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Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria Commit to Cooperation on Economic Development and Energy Security

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VIENNA, July 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

The Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria yesterday made a multilateral commitment to greater cooperation on economic development and energy security.

At a Natural Gas Europe and IPM conference in Vienna, the three bodies issued a mutual statement in which they agreed to work together to convene a forum to coordinate energy policies to increase prosperity for the region. The proposed forum will be open to their respective members, governments and neighbours in the Central, Eastern and Southern European region. The Chambers have decided to name the forum the Danube Energy Initiative and a final agreement would be achieved 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.

Zeljko Sertic, President of the 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 of the 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."

The Secretary General of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, Vasil Todorov, added: "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."

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.

The conference, entitled "Natural Gas: Perspectives from Central and South Europe", heard from a number of senior politicians, businessmen and academics. The recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between Gazprom and Austrian energy business, OMV, meant that the South Stream pipeline was top of the agenda for many of the speakers.

Hungary's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pter Szijjrt, echoed comments made by Prime Minister Orban, who called the pipeline 'a must' while visiting Belgrade on Monday. "Energy security in Europe is vital," said Mr Szijjrt, "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."

He called on European and Russian leaders to accelerate negotiations, but said in conclusion that "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."

Welcoming delegates to the conference, Christian Schnbauer, Head of the Department of Energy in the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, said: "We are responsible to the public for the delivery of secure, low carbon, low cost energy solutions. The only solution for Austria and the region is the construction of large scale energy infrastructure projects."

Among other high level participants at the conference were: Professor and Director of the LLM Programme at the City Law School, City University of London, Alan Riley; Senior Vice President Corporate Strategy at OMV, Ulrich Streibl; Chief Executive Consultant for New Gas business at the Hungarian MVM, Csaba Attila Kiss; Chairman of the Association of Gas and District Heating Companies, Marc Hall; and Chief Adviser to the Head of Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation, Chair of Global Economy of Higher School of Economics, Leonid Grigoryev.

Notes to Editors

Natural Gas Europe provides essential daily reading on European gas matters. As an independent organization, we provide information and analyses of natural gas matters from our correspondents, contributors and media partners. Our focus is on the role of natural gas in Europe, facilitating dialogue and understanding of important matters such as exploration, environment, regulation and energy security. 

Initiative Pro Mitteleuropa - Middleeuropean Initiative (IPM) is an international NGO based in Vienna, founded in November 2010. The NGO is promoting the European peace project, environmental protection, sustainability and international cooperation is now and will continue to be the primary objective of IPM International and its connected boards.


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