Dionis Cenușa: Gas deal is good, but with many vulnerabilities

It would be a shame not to learn from the recent gas crisis that energy interconnection, access to cross-border gas transportation infrastructure, but also European solidarity, in parallel with the development of national operators, can reduce the negative impact of the Russian energy monopoly in Moldova, said political scientist Dionis Cenușa during a debate organized by IPN.

“Taking the challenge as an opportunity, Moldova must rethink its role and place in the region. This
has to do with the implementation of the Third Energy Package, to a full extent, without delays and without all sorts of reservations meant to favor some external actors”.

Speaking about the experience
of other countries in similar situations, the expert referred first of all to Lithuania. The Baltic republic has already announced that it is giving up long-term contracts with the Russian Federation and will even invest more in its port of Klaipeda to import liquefied gas. The inclusion of this source offers more freedom and stability not only to Lithuania, but also to the other two Baltic countries, which are interconnected in a common power grid. In this respect, “our plans with Romania matter a lot, but also with Ukraine. Diversification means having at least two sources, whether it’s gas or electricity”, said Dionis Cenușă.

The expert noted that Ukraine is an untapped opportunity. “We must follow the same logic as the one used when overcoming the wine crisis caused by the Russian ban. The Russian segment was not abandoned, but roads were opened to other countries, even to other continents”.

In the case of Poland, which is fed by the Yamal-Europe pipeline, the situation is different. The expert
noted that Poland uses a formula where reverse flows can also be virtual, not just physical, which means that in case of an insufficiency for the physical reverse, gas can be pumped from the German pipes. “This highlights the importance of interconnection and solidarity between European countries.”

The expert also spoke about the idea of an Energy Union, “initiated, by the way, by Poland and other states that depend on Russian gas back in 2014. Currently governing rules are being defined, and, besides regional cooperation, interconnection, investments in green energy, emphasis is also put on solidarity. This is a crucial element and the European Union has demonstrated it in relation to Moldova in the current energy crisis, and so has Romania as a member state, but also Ukraine, as an associated state of the EU”.

The European Union is moving faster towards energy efficiency, but also towards changing energy supply routes. Europeans import liquefied gas from the United States and consider cooperation with Azerbaijan, among other things. “Actions are currently being taken to bring gas from Azerbaijan to the Western Balkans, which is vulnerable to Russian gas. I mean Albania, Croatia and Serbia,” he said.

However, a lot depends on Moldova’s negotiating capacity, says Dionis Cenușa. “The Supreme Security Council assembled very late. By October 28, many things were already in place. This is despite the fact that it was very correctly anticipated that problems would arise, that the Russian Federation would want to put pressure on the new government. Things could have been planned and discussed in advance, both at a high level and with the involvement of experts”.

In the expert’
s opinion, the Government was able to reach a good deal in unfavorable conditions, created with its own hands. However, the contract remains “vulnerable in several respects, including because we continue to contribute to the financing of the separatist regime and, indirectly, to strengthen the positions of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova,” the expert concluded.

The public debate “Energy Security of the European Union and the Republic of Moldova: reciprocal lessons” is the 212th installment of the series of debates held as part of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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