Saturday, June 11, 2011

Belgrade Forum: Russian Stability Critical to Western Energy Security

Source: Belgrade Forum

Energy security is one of the most critical issues facing European governments as Russian presidential elections approach, experts and politicians warned yesterday in Belgrade.

Recent developments, including the Arab Spring uprisings and fears about instability in the Caucasus and Russia have driven the issue of energy security to the top of the political agenda.

The outcome of the presidential elections in Russia in 2012 will have a major impact on the West's ability to rely on reliable energy supplies, diplomats, politicians and Balkan experts agreed, with the need for stability in Russia paramount.

They had gathered in the Serbian capital for the one day conference, 'European Security in the light of the 2012 Elections' organized a week in advance of the NATO summit in the city.

Jan Mladek, Secretary of the Czech Social Democrat Party, said: "The West will be looking to Russia for reassurance about stability and security of its energy supply.

"If Mr Putin returns as president we hope it would help with the reconstruction of the oil and gas pipelines which help ensure energy security in Europe."

Energy security was one of three topics under discussion at the conference, organized by the Belgrade Forum, alongside political and economic cooperation and European stability.

Other speakers included Charles Crawford, former UK ambassador to Poland, Dr Alessandro Musolino from the governing European People's Party and the Russian ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Konuzin.

Addressing the issue of stability in Russia after the 2012 elections, Dragutin Matanovic, senior adviser to the Interior Minister of Serbia who was at the event said: "If Mr Putin is re-elected as president of Russia he will continue to do what he has already done in making Russia strong again.

"The West need not be afraid of the return of Vladimir Putin - he means stability for Russia and this means stability for Europe."

Speaking about the 2012 elections, Dusan Bajatovic MP, chairman of Serbia's Committee for Defence and Security, said: "Russia has a clear leader in Vladimir Putin and he's considered exactly that by the elite and the rest of society."