At a recent Natural Gas Europe and IPM conference, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria made a multilateral commitment to greater cooperation on economic development and energy security. The three bodies issued a mutual statement in which they agree to work together to convene a forum to coordinate energy policies to increase prosperity for the region. The proposed forum will be open to respective members, governments and neighbours in the Central, Eastern and Southern European region. The Danube Energy Initiative, as the forum will be known, will sign a final agreement in Budapest in September.
In the statement, the Chambers of Commerce settled to cooperate to guarantee better access to secure energy sources, ensure the liberalisation of the energy market and enable competitive pricing.
Leaders of the three chambers noted that greater coordination was a high priority for all their organisations, and that they were all pledged to act in accordance with the principles of transparency, cooperation and the rule of law.
Zeljko Sertic, President, Serbian Chamber of Commerce said, ‘I am delighted that the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria, yesterday signed a joint agreement committing to the creation of a new forum and I look forward to working closely with my colleagues in Hungary and Bulgaria on this project.
‘This forum will work to coordinate between the governments, businesses and civil society organisations of our respective countries to ensure that we all have more coordinated energy policies, designed to create greater prosperity for all.’
Imre Toth, Honorary President, Hungarian Chamber of Commerce said, ‘this is an important step forward in improving the region’s negotiating power. Central, Eastern and Southern Europe occupy a unique geopolitical position in the delivery of the world’s fossil fuels. Through greater cooperation, we plan to improve the competitiveness of our businesses, lower energy prices for consumers and decrease CO2 emissions for our environment.’
Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade said, ‘energy security in Europe is vital and we cannot accept a situation where we are reliant on Ukraine for our energy supply. Europe lacks a clear energy strategy. The reality is that South Stream reduces transit risks and guarantees a stable and reliable gas supply to Hungary and the region more broadly.’
Szijjarto concluded, ‘Central and Eastern Europe should not be dependent on the outcome of political differences between the US, Western Europe and Russia. The EU has to accommodate a regional strategy aimed at the diversification of its supply routes.’
Vasil Todorov, Secretary General, Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce said, ‘we will continue to work on the details of the forum over the course of the summer and will meet again in Budapest in September to formalise its creation. The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce is committed to working with our neighbours and partners to generate new solutions for the future.’
Adapted for web by Claira Lloyd
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