Macedonian Energy Forum 2019


Speech of the Chargé d ‘affairs Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm
at the Macedonian Energy Forum 2019
Thursday, May 16, 2019


Good Morning Prime Minister Zaev, Deputy Prime Minister Angjushev, Minister Bekteshi, Director Kopac, ambassadors, distinguished panelists, attendees, media representatives, ladies and gentlemen.

I want to congratulate and thank the co-organizers of this forum, ESM and its General Manager Dragan Minovski, the Government of North Macedonia, and the ZIP Institute.  You all worked so hard to put together a stimulating program and an array of fascinating panelists.

I am honored to help open this year’s forum, which puts a timely focus on energy transitions.

Last year, in its latest report on the Transformation of the Global Energy System, the World Economic Forum predicted an “innovation tsunami” is on the horizon of energy systems.  The Forum said this “innovation tsunami” has the potential to disrupt and transform our world energy systems and world economy with the same shock that electricity, oil, and the internal combustion engine gave to global systems over 100 years ago.

In the report, the Forum notes that “business and government must become … more adept at talking about these realities.”  While “technological change could bring profound improvements to how society uses energy,” the report cautions that such “improvements are still likely to lag far behind society’s expectations.”

For that reason, forums such as this one are critical opportunities for us – business and government – to share knowledge, ideas, and solutions.

For the United States, energy security is a key component of our National Security Strategy.  We recognize that access to domestic sources of clean, affordable, and reliable energy underpins a prosperous, secure, and powerful America.

But we also know that energy security must extend beyond our borders.  We understand the energy system is global and that we must work together to innovate in order to secure global access to energy.

Unfortunately, some nations use their energy for malign ends.

Secretary Pompeo addressed this very issue at an executive conference in Houston in March.  In his remarks, Secretary Pompeo emphasized that the United States is committed to creating “energy security for those all around the world.”

He talked about the importance of facilitating beneficial investment in the energy sector, of promoting transparent, fair, and accountable business collaborations, and of denying space for those who use their energy towards malign ends.  He characterized America’s energy blueprint as “to innovate, not subjugate; to contribute, not to coerce.”

Here in North Macedonia, the U.S. government is committed to supporting North Macedonia’s energy sector by helping partners plan, finance, and implement energy sector solutions.

With our European partners, we have supported the revision and adoption of the new Energy Efficiency Law and continue to support reforms to liberalize the energy market.

And we support U.S. businesses, who are taking part in developing the energy sector in this region.  Many others are exploring possibilities and looking for local partners.  They offer American technology, equipment, products, and services that can catalyze your reform processes.

U.S. equipment and technology is embedded in some of the most important energy infrastructure in this region and in Europe.  An important example is the cooperation between Greece and U.S. businesses on the importation of U.S. LNG.  There is excellent potential there to expand LNG transmission in this region.

We applaud and support the cooperation between North Macedonia and Greece to build a natural gas interconnector, allowing North Macedonia to diversify its natural gas supply.  If built, that interconnector could have a broader regional impact, facilitating the transit of diversified gas to other countries including Kosovo, Serbia, and Albania.

Diversification of energy sources is vital to a nation’s energy security and I commend the Government of North Macedonia’s plans to increase renewable energy projects.

As North Macedonia prepares to become the 30th member of the NATO Alliance, ensuring the country’s energy system is stable, reliable, and diversified is critical to building the country’s security and prosperity.  North Macedonia has already demonstrated a commitment to enhancing regional stability.  It has the potential to further contribute to regional stability and prosperity by pursuing joint efforts with its neighbors to innovate and transform the regional energy system.

You can continue to rely on the United States as a partner as you develop more secure and stable energy sources and fund innovation that can fuel your economies.

I hope you will all take full advantage of the discussions today and tomorrow.

I wish you continued success and a productive conference.  Thank you.