Energy 27 March, 2018 11:00 am   

Baca-Pogorzelska: It is not true that we argue with everyone

While the government in the heat of criticism explains its diplomatic penetrations with ever new countries in the background, there remains the improvement of some relations a little unnoticed. Yes, I know that exceptions confirm the rule, but it is worth noting. Lithuania is such an example – writes Karolina Baca-Pogorzelska from Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

A rough friendship

Our neighborly relations with Lithuanians can usually be described as a rough friendship (and sometimes is even an optimistic expression). However, I have the impression that recently Warsaw has found a common language with Vilnius – at least on economic issues, although Lithuanian and Polish are not at all similar to each other. And the confirmation of this is the Thursday meeting in Brussels regarding the synchronization of the Baltic Sea network with European networks (the Balts want to desynchronize with the Russian system, and Russia is threatening them with a faster cut-off).

“Energy Union: synchronization of the Baltic power grid with the European system will strengthen solidarity and regional security of energy supply” – we could read in the European Commission’s Thursday communique.

The Heads of State and Government of the Baltic States and Poland met with the EC President Jean-Claude Juncker to confirm the commitment to synchronize the Baltic States’ energy networks with the European continental system by 2025. Heads of State and Government called for every effort agreed timetable for ministers, for system operators and for experts. They agreed to meet again in the summer to conclude a political agreement on the optimal way of synchronizing the Baltic Sea network with the European continental network.

“On March 22, 2018, during a meeting at the European Commission, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker along with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Prime Minister of Estonia Jürim Ratas, Latvia’s Prime Minister Măris Kučinski and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki underlined the importance of the synchronization process as a key element for the physical integration of the Baltic States with the European continental energy system, which is a huge contribution to unity and energy security of the European Union. They also emphasized that this is one of the most symbolic projects of the Energy Union and a concrete expression of solidarity within the framework of energy security” – we read in the EC communication.

A better climate

When, together with my editorial colleague Michał Potocki, I was on talks in Vilnius in November 2017 and at the turn of February and March 2018, I was surprised by the growing climate – whether during official or non-official talks. Let it not be: Lithuanian politicians pointed out the errors of our diplomacy, they argued about the state of law over the Vistula, etc. But when we were going through economic and, above all, energy, the situation was quite different – even off the record, when it is easier to get criticized. Žygimantas Vaičiunas, Minister of Energy of Lithuania, first thanked Minister Piotr Naimski for a clear and strong “no” for the purchase of electricity from the Belarusian nuclear power plant, which is being built at the Lithuanian border about 40 km from the capital of this country, then praised the cooperation with Minister of Energy Krzysztof Tchórzewski regarding synchronization. And we all perfectly remember that a year ago it seemed that we would have a stalemate here.

Not even could the Balts not get along with each other in this matter; the second thread of LitPolLink, the Polish-Lithuanian energy bridge, was the axis of the dispute. I do not know if the blackout threat to Lithuania from Russia improved the climate of talks, or maybe it turned out that we can get along with the Lithuanians on energy issues. I would like to believe that this is the second reason. Especially that our common project of a gas connection between Poland and Lithuania sounds more sensible, and both sides are positive. The energy minister, Krzysztof Tchórzewski, believes that the construction of the Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) pipe worth 558 million PLN may start next year. As I have already mentioned in the DGP – this week, minister’s Piotr Naimski’s visit in Lithuania is possible.

– We have the recent promise of Deputy Minister Piotr Naimski that soon similar permits will be issued for the territory of Poland. The next step is regional agreements, not only bilateral Polish-Lithuanian, but also with the participation of Latvia and Estonia. We’re working on it. The next months will be very important in this respect – Žygimantas Vaičiunas recently told us. The role of the synchronization of power grids by Poland was also confirmed by Daivis Virbickas, president of LitGrid, the Lithuanian energy network operator (interview with him on Monday issue of DGP).