WROCLAW, Poland – Lower Silesia is concerned with Poland’s reliance on oil and gas imports from the east and hailed the latest initiative by the country’s premier for an Energy Union for Europe.
Cezary Przybylski, the Marshall of Lower Silesia, a Polish region located mostly in the basin of the middle Oder River with its historic capital in Wroclaw, told New Europe in an interview on 28 May that he worried by his country’s reliance on Russian gas imports and their transit through Ukraine.
“We worry. Looking at the initiative that Prime Minister Donald Tusk undertook to make Poland more independent of gas or oil supplies from the east, this is what it is aimed at. We can’t depend on one direction of supplies,” Przybylski said on the sidelines of the AER General Assembly in Wroclaw.
Tusk has also called for EU countries to work together in price negotiations with Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom. The Polish premier’s plan is gaining support spurred by the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine.
The Marshall, who hosted the Assembly of European Regions conference in Wroclaw’s historic Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia) and Topacz Castle, stressed that his region relies on oil and gas imports.
“Definitely, we’re not independent enough. We’re developing the economy and the changes in heating methods and also development of industry where there is a greater need for gas and oil. We’re not able to generate these kinds of amounts ourselves so we still need to import energy in general,” Przybylski said.
He added that there some projects in process under the programme for renewable resources. “But this is not something that can replace oil and gas supplies from the east. It can supplement them but definitely it cannot replace the traditional ways,” he said.
DG Regional and Urban Policy Director General Walter Deffaa told New Europe on the sidelines of the same conference that the EU is supporting Lower Silesia’s plans to boost clean energy.
“For us it is important that we concentrate on four priorities and one of them is CO2 reduction,” he said, adding that the other three are research and development, ICT and small businesses.
Turning to Ukraine, Przybylski reminded that his region has signed an agreement with Dnipropetrovsk region and wants to intensify the co-operation. “We want not only Lower Silesia but also other regions to join this co-operation. Co-operation with Ukraine is not only Dnipropetrovsk but also strong relations, emotional relations because some Poles who live in Lower Silesia actually come from Ukraine but used to live there,” he said. “That is why it’s so important for us to have Ukraine join Europe. Looking what’s happening in Ukraine now, we see the need to bring closer the rules of democratic state and to help them with good experiences that Poland and Europe have to transfer to Ukraine,” the Marshall added.
AER President Hande Özsan Bozatli told New Europe the organisation which includes members from both Russia and Ukraine can help bridge differences between the two countries.
“This is the only way. AER has been organising Black Sea summits every year,” she said. “It’s at regional level. People can come together and just become friends and talk while at national level you would never be able to do it.”
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