Ambassador Richard Morningstar, the founding director and chairman of the Global Energy Center at the Atlantic Council, notes that Greece can play a role in promoting as well as benefit from a transparent and competitive energy market in Europe. In an interview with Kathimerini after delivering the annual Prometheus Energy Lecture, titled “21st Century Energy Security: The United States, Europe, and Greece,” in Piraeus earlier this month, the former special envoy of the US secretary of state for Eurasian energy explained why energy security is the foundation for economic and political security.
Having just been bestowed with the Prometheus Award by the Department of International and European Studies at the University of Piraeus, Ambassador Morningstar told Kathimerini that US liquefied natural gas as an alternative source can promote energy security in Europe, and that including Greece in the Three Seas Initiative would be very helpful for Greece in its transformation into an energy hub for the region. As for ExxonMobil’s recent gas discovery in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, he notes the political and security challenges but adds that the US may – and should – get more involved to help resolve those issues in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Why does the US care about energy security in Europe? In your lecture, you made the point that energy security is also economic and political security; does this imply that Russia is a malign actor in the region?
Yes, I think it does relate to economic security. On the political side, if you go back to the 1980s, we raised serious concerns with Europe on gas from Russia during the Cold War, and I think that the disruptions in Ukraine in 2006-09 emphasized that Europe should have alternative sources and should be as independent as possible. I would never say that Russia should not be selling gas to Europe, but they should be selling it in a competitive and transparent market. I hope that the steps that are being taken both in Brussels and to improve the infrastructure in this part of Europe will help create that competitiveness and transparency. My argument is that Gazprom has every right to compete with anybody else in Europe, as long as they can’t use it as a weapon...
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Ambassador Richard Morningstar served as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan from 2012 to 2014, Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy from 2009 to 2012 and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union from 1999 to 2001.