Tale/innlegg | Dato: 10.11.2011
"My hope is that Norwegian and Georgian cooperation will accelerate, both in the political and economic fields. Renewable energy, in particular hydropower, where both Norway and Georgia have a comparative advantage, is an excellent starting point”,the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs said in his speech in Tbilisi on 10 November 2011.
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Dear Minister, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
- It is a great pleasure to be present at the opening of this seminar. Today’s event here in Tbilisi is a logical follow-up of a seminar held in Oslo in March, during Foreign Minister Vashadze’s visit to Norway.
- My hope is that Norwegian and Georgian cooperation will accelerate, in the political as well as the economic fields, and bring gains to both countries and peoples. Renewable energy, in particular hydropower, where both Norway and Georgia have a comparative advantage, is an excellent starting point.
- We live in uncertain times, dominated by financial and economic crisis in Europe. We are also facing other challenges, not least climate change and its effects on people and the environment.
- In all respects, energy is at the centre of attention. We are focusing on how to provide and use energy in the economically best way, fuelling growth, and at the same time reducing environmental harm.
- Georgia is blessed with vast renewable energy resources - which are exactly what both Georgia and the world needs.
- My country is in a similarly favourable situation - and even more so. Hydropower lies at the heart of Norway’s industrial development.
- Hydropower accounts for almost all of our electricity production, and plays an important role in our energy supply. The result is that about 60% of Norway’s total energy consumption is covered by renewable energy. The equivalent figure for the EU is about 12%.
- We exchange power with our neighbouring countries. With our large reservoirs, we play an important role in providing peak capacity to Europe. Electricity - together with our export of oil and gas - makes Norway the third largest energy exporter in the world.
- Norway has built a strong energy industry. Norwegian companies, such as Statoil, Statkraft and Statnett have become significant global and European energy actors.
- Statoil has been present in the Caspian region for about 17 years – and has taken part in all the important decisions concerning the export of oil and gas from Azerbaijan through Georgia. First with the pipeline to Supsa, then the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and the South Caucasus gas pipeline.
- All of this has brought benefits to Georgia, both with regard to business and income, and with regard to Georgia’s integration into the broader Europe. This is something that Norway supports, and that needs to be sustained by further economic growth and progress within Georgia.
- I am impressed by the steps that Georgia has already taken to improve the business climate, modernise legislation, and combat corruption.
- I have noted with great interest Georgia’s rapid climb up international rankings of attractiveness for investors. This is important, and Georgia, its leaders and people need to constantly focus on further improvement. As you all know, this is a global market, and global competition is tough.
- At the same time, you live in a region marked by conflicts. Georgia itself has unresolved conflicts within its internationally recognised borders, as well as destabilising social and ethnic conflicts in neighbouring countries.
- I am convinced that this situation can only be changed and conflicts resolved by peaceful means. There is a need to build confidence and cooperation, to provide good education, more jobs and economic growth. And, not least, to strengthen democratic institutions, governance and processes.
- Norway is not part of any conflict, but we strongly support the efforts to resolve them peacefully through international organisations where we are members. I also believe in the changes that economic progress itself will bring about – changes in ordinary people’s standard of living.
- Energy has been a key development factor in Norway. In fact, the first development of Norwegian rivers and waterfalls started about 120 years ago. A forward-looking legal framework and management of hydropower resources, access to the best technology and financing, as well as industrial competitiveness, among other factors, have yielded economic, social and political benefits to our country. The same could happen here in Georgia.
- Norway has acquired considerable experience in many areas of hydropower development and power distribution. Predictable and transparent rules, an open market system and a respected tax regime play a crucial role. So does the essential human factor, such as highly competent engineers, managers and skilled workers.
- The company Clean Energy Invest has taken the first Norwegian steps into the Georgian power sector.
- We - like Georgia - welcome this very much. Norway wishes to be a partner for Georgia in the further development of the hydropower sector. We aim for closer cooperation between government agencies, research establishments and other important actors.
- But first and foremost we want to stimulate direct cooperation and interaction between commercial market operators, companies, investors and banks.
- In our hydropower projects, at home and abroad, we emphasise the importance of sustainability related to the economy as well as to environmental and social aspects. Norway has an interest in cooperating along the entire “value chain” of hydropower in Georgia, from planning large- and small-scale power plants, to procurement and financing of infrastructure, equipment and services, and development and optimisation of power transmission.
- On the international scene, in September, the UN Secretary-General launched the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative. The Norwegian Government strongly supports this initiative, which is also of high relevance to Georgia. It aims at meeting three interlinked global targets by 2030:
- Universal access to modern energy services;
- Improving energy efficiency by 40%;
- And third: producing 30% of the world’s energy from renewable resources.
- In October in Oslo, Norway together with some 30 countries and international organisations and development banks launched the “International energy and climate partnership – Energy +” in support of the UN Secretary-General’s initiative. The partnership aims to ensure access to sustainable energy for all and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- Public–private cooperation to secure financing is of key importance to both initiatives. The “Energy+ Partnership” has taken on a particular role to support the UN Secretary-General’s sustainable energy effort – by developing results-based financing and business models, and by attracting commercial investments in the renewable energy sector at scale.
- Furthermore, it is important that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio next June produces results on the sustainability agenda. I consider energy to be a priority issue in order to achieve this.
- In view of its important hydropower resources, Georgia could be a frontrunner in terms of sustainable energy access. And both the UN Secretary-General and the “Energy+ Partnership” could draw on solutions that Georgia is developing.
- Georgia is a beautiful country, with mountains higher and valleys deeper than in Norway. The country’s topography and rivers create great opportunities for a secure and renewable energy supply for a very long time.
- There is also the potential for Georgia to become a flexible power hub ensuring better supply at peak demand to its neighbours in the region, in a similar way as Norway does in the north.
Ladies and gentlemen,
- I am sure you will use this seminar to learn more about our mutual potential for cooperation, to increase the contacts between Norwegian and Georgian experts, authorities and market operators, and to discuss and draw conclusions about the next steps to take.
- In order for us to succeed, we must have a high level of understanding and cooperation at the political level, and we must foster close interaction with the actual energy project operators in Georgia, companies, financial institutions and other entities.
- I wish you every success with today’s seminar. Thank you for your attention.