Speech/statement | Date: 2016-05-18 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
State Secretary Elsbeth Tronstad's statement at the conference "Connectivity for Commerce and Investment" in Berlin 18-19 May 2016.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking the German OSCE Chairmanship for inviting me to this conference and giving me the opportunity to address such a distinguished audience.
Before turning to the topic of the panel debate, I would like to underline that Norway is a strong supporter of the OSCE, its values and its principles.
The OSCE is an important arena for promoting adherence to democratic norms and principles. It is an invaluable platform for dialogue and a casting mould for first-rate confidence and security -building measures.
The OSCE is an integral part of the European security architecture. Its approach to security – with the three dimensions – is comprehensive. We commend Germany's efforts to strengthen the second of these dimensions, namely the economic and environmental dimension.
In times when tensions run high, and dialogue seems to falter, it is prudent to look for areas where interests concur and where common ground can be found. I believe Germany is on the right path in using economic and environmental issues as a platform for renewing dialogue and rebuilding trust across the board. These issues can indeed provide a platform for us to reconnect.
In this sense, the theme of this conference – 'Connectivity for commerce and investment' – provides just such a platform. And the theme for this panel – security of energy supply and protection of critical energy infrastructure – gives us a concrete starting point from which we can move forward together.
The OSCE and energy
The OSCE's 57 participating states and 11 Partners for Cooperation include some of the world's largest producers and consumers of energy, as well as many strategic transit countries.
One common challenge that nearly all energy producers and companies face is the challenge of finding secure routes for transporting and delivering energy. Many factors can interrupt supply, from natural disasters to intentional disruption of supply and destruction of systems. The motivation for such attacks varies, and can include both financial and political reasons.
Since energy infrastructure carries the fuel that keeps the global economy moving and our societies working, it is a possible target for terrorists. It can also be used to exert pressure in interstate conflicts.
A Norwegian perspective
Let me continue with a Norwegian perspective. Norway has a long history as an energy producer and is dependent on energy infrastructure to transport energy to other countries. This goes both for gas and for electricity. We are the second largest exporter of natural gas to Europe, and by 2020 will have seven active electricity interconnectors to key markets. In our view, well-functioning, interconnected energy markets are a key to energy security within the OSCE area. This means that it is vital to have a good understanding of the political and regulatory drivers in the European energy markets, including regular analysis of the factors that influence these markets. Diversification and interconnectivity prevent energy from being politicised, and this is in the best interests of both Norway and the EU Energy Union.
Energy security continues to be at the top of the European political agenda. I am pleased to note that Europe now seems better able to withstand unplanned energy interruptions.
This is not due to big individual projects, but rather to stepwise interaction between three forces: commercial actors, governments and technological development. Let me be concrete. The construction of a number of relatively low-cost but strategically well-positioned pipelines is already increasing the flexibility and interconnection of the European energy market. These projects have been partly financed by the EU through the projects of common interest (CPI) initiative and/or by commercial actors. The increased use globally of floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) – a smart way to import LNG that is both cheaper and much quicker to install than traditional LNG plants – is an example of how technological advances can make a difference. The LNG terminal in Klaipeda uses this technology. In February this year, the EU presented a set of innovative proposals to strengthen the continent's energy security in various ways. At the same time, we have had the first ever US delivery of LNG to Europe, which illustrates very clearly just how diversified energy supplies are becoming.
Three possible roles for the OSCE
Even though energy security is being strengthened, we must continuously guard against unwanted developments. Things may still go wrong. I would now like to share some thoughts on possible roles for the OSCE in the protection of critical cross-border energy infrastructure,
First is increasing knowledge. This would involve gathering information and analysing the various vulnerabilities of cross-border energy infrastructure, including threats as diverse as cyber and terrorist attacks, and the effects of regulatory conditions on energy flows.
The second is creating a platform for dialogue and cooperation. I would like to quote Ministerial Council Decision no. 6 from Kyiv 2013, which: '...encourages participating States to make best use of the OSCE as a platform for a broad dialogue, cooperation, exchange of information and sharing of best practices on strengthening the security and safety of the energy networks in the OSCE region'.
This is what Norway considers one of the great strengths of the OSCE – its ability to connect different actors within and between states and across regions, its ability to provide a platform for dialogue to find common solutions. The OSCE can also play an important part in facilitating the creation of innovative networks for international cooperation on complex challenges.
The OSCE can make an important contribution by raising awareness of the challenges ahead. It can explore new approaches for cooperation between its participating states, taking into account the contribution that can be made by civil society. This work will include strengthening local government, building partnerships between the private and public sectors, and cooperating with NGOs. This conference, and indeed this panel, are excellent examples of non-governmental actors' relevance when discussing cross-border policy issues.
In other words, the OSCE's main focus should continue to be on capacity-building, awareness-raising and exchange of best practices. The Organisation should seek to ensure that the dialogue between our societies does not break down – especially at a time when the political situation is difficult.
However, we can also enhance the OSCE's scope of action and add new tools to our toolbox. So, before I conclude, I would like to suggest a third possible role for the OSCE as an honest broker or facilitator in tense and difficult situations related to energy conflicts. In such situations, the OSCE could , possibly in cooperation with other actors, help to establish the facts on the ground, and facilitate dialogue on energy supply in crisis areas.
I now look forward very much to hearing the other panellist's views on this topic.