Energy Security: The Key to Eastern Europe’s Future

As the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline begin to take Gazprom’s place as energy supplier to Europe, Georgia’s place in the energy security pipeline is growing. Despite signs of growing political instability in Tbilisi, this promises to be the groundwork for a revolution in Georgia, the former Soviet Union, and Europe as a whole.

The story begins years ago as Azerbaijan and Georgia began the effort at bringing on-line a viable market route for Azerbaijan’s energy reserves and the Caspian republics’ strategic positioning. Despite some missteps in Georgia, centered around Russia’s efforts at aiding breakaway republics, the threat to Gazprom has become significant enough that Russian President Vladimir Putin is now desperately working to find a way to involve Russian state-owned energy concerns in Baku’s booming energy markets.

Despite ongoing economic malaise continent-wide, Europe is poised for an economic revolution. The critical factor in any economic development is energy — it is the constant of all kinds of market and economic activity, and the story of economic progress is the story of increasingly efficient harvests and use of energy. Economic development in turn requires energy security, something Europe has not enjoyed as its tether to Gazprom remains intact. As new, cheaper forms of energy become available, the future of Europe’s economic progress may very well be born out of the Soviet Union’s wreckage.

A bright new day may be waiting for Europe. It is yet to see whether that day will dawn.

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