Riga, 29 May 2010 - FORMER LATVIAN PRESIDENT URGES NATO TO “SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE” ON ENERGY SECURITY
NATO Allies should coordinate their energy sourcing policies more closely, former Latvian president Vaira Vîíe-Freiberga said Saturday, given the important security and diplomatic dimensions of energy supply.
Speaking to the Spring Assembly of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Riga, Ms Vîíe-Freiberga pointed out that the wide range of energy situations of the different Allies was a reason for more solidarity, not less.
Some may be self-sufficient, but others rely on a single supplier for their energy needs, she said. Members should not let their different energy situations obscure the common values and principles that should bind the Alliance.
Statements coming out of Moscow indicate that Russia intends to use its energy and other economic assets to increase its political influence over some of its most vulnerable neighbours, she said.
A single NATO policy should be established to coordinate the different Allies’ priorities, according to Vīķe-Freiberga, to ensure that the Alliance can “sing the same tune” from the “many different mouths,” especially with regards to relations with Russia.
Bilateral initiatives could be counterproductive and dangerous in the long term, she told the Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee. The more appropriate track, she argued, would be to create a genuine common European energy market. Particular attention should be paid to linking the different gas and electricity grids across European NATO countries, she suggested.
NATO has in previous decades been concentrating on its “boots”, she said, referring to the attention paid to immediate military capabilities. The time has now come to look more closely to the life-blood of energy supply, said the former president, drawing the comparison with Napoleon’s observation that an army marches on its stomach.
The relations of the various Allies with Russia must not be allowed to undermine Alliance solidarity, she said. In that context, she expressed concern over the proposed sale of French warships to Moscow announced recently. “I find it rather shocking that such a deal would be conducted without discussion within the alliance.”
The Assembly’s Spring Session brings together around 340 delegates from allied and associated countries in Riga from May 28 to June 1. The full programme of the Session is available at http://www.nato-pa.int/default.asp?SHORTCUT=2014