CLOSE... BUT NOT THAT CLOSE: Poland and Lithuania have still to sign up for their energy bridge, let alone Ignalina (Photo: Mike Collier)
VILNIUS CONFERENCE -- Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus gave another example of his deal-brokering skills Oct. 10 at the Vilnius Energy Conference which he is hosting.
Adamkus persuaded the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Poland and Ukraine to join him in signing an agreement as a basis for further cooperation in the energy sector - in particular the creation of a new transportation corridor for crude oil and natural gas from the Caucasus to Eastern Europe.
At an earlier meeting in Krakow, the presidents had agreed to begin work on the so-called Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk Project. Now, a consortium of companies representing each country will oversee the project.
The main goal of the new consortium 's named 'Sarmatia' - is to prepare a feasibility study for the transportation system from the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Poland to European and international markets.
The presidents also agreed that the next meeting of the 'Krakow forum' countries will be held in Kiev, Ukraine next year.
However, despite the lavish compliments paid to him by the other presidents 's Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili even talked of Adamkus performing another "special miracle" 's Adamkus may have been short of one additional signature he would have liked to add to his collection.
No agreement was signed between Lithuania and Poland concerning the proposed 'energy bridge' link that would supply power from a future nuclear power plant at Ignalina, Lithuania to the north-east of Poland 's an area facing an even more acute energy crisis than other parts of Poland.
"We had bilateral negotiations about the electric bridge," Adamkus said at the evening signing ceremony in the grounds of the presidential palace. "It has to be built and it will be built. Today we have not signed for one reason only. It will be signed immediately after a company structure has been established 's before the end of this month."
Polish president Lech Kaczynski also tried to talk up the project, but seemd less willing to provide a specific timetable or talk in anything but vague terms. Indeed, when one journalist asked if Poland could be regarded as a reliable partner in light of its demand 's delivered just days before the conference was due to start - that it must receive at least a third of Ignalina's output, Kaczynski became indignant, responding: "I would not like to receive such questions in the future."
From the comments of the presidents it seems that in return for their huge supplies of gas and use as transit routes, the Caucasian members of the consortium will gain strong support for closer ties with the EU from their Eastern European counterparts. In the cases of Georgia and Ukraine, that could mean backing for an actual EU membership bid.