Energy Community changes director, interview with leaving and newly appointed director

, News Serbia Energy

Slavčo Nejkov, after six years, has been ending mandate of Director of the Secretariat of Energy Community of Southeast Europe, during which Serbia made significant progress in European, energy integration. At the meeting of the Ministers of EC in Budva last week, he took the opportunity to send the instructions to Serbia how to continue development and to introduce his successor Janez Kopač. Serbia Energy journalist Oliver Nikolic brings exclusive talk with leaving and newly appointed director of Energy Community.

– This is, in fact, my third mandate. Building a home is always difficult, and my successor, Mr. Kopač has even more difficult task because he need to build a second floor and the roof. But I’m happy and I think that Energy Community goes in the right direction, and the task is very clear, EU laws are very clear, what is clear to investors we search, so those are good basis for the development of the entire energy sector in Southeast Europe.

ON: We in Serbia have witnessed serious progress in this sector, primarily in the legislative section, and then in the development of investments. What is your message to our government, in which direction to continue to develop energy sector and sector of the renewable energy sources and sustainable development?

– First you need to finalize efforts to harmonize legislation with the EU. Much has been done; Serbia has the most independent legislation in the region, which is great for further development. The second thing that has to be done is interconnections. Why is it important for Serbia? Because you are the only country in the region that has eight borders! All that countries depend on the energy stability of Serbia. Third, you have a huge potential for gas storage. And if we 2009 have had at least the potential that Serbia has today, the entire region would suffer less during the gas crisis. Thus, legal reforms, regional open access to the energy market through our energy strategy and improvement of gas transit. Minister Mihajlovic is very cooperative, I’m fascinated by how well she understands the problems and how to deal with them during this, her “flying start”. The only problems we have are related to the connection with Kosovo, besides that, we have great cooperation.

ON: Everybody is very interested in where you will continue your successful career, you were an important negotiator in the north Atlantic connections of Bulgaria, and you left a significant mark in the Energy Community…

– After all, I’ll go – fishing! I have some ideas, I’ll let you know when crystallized (laughs).

Interview with Janez Kopač

The new Director of the Secretariat of Energy Community is Slovenian Janez Kopač. He has a rich political career, once as a SFRY youngster within SSOJ he cooperated with Milo Djukanovic and our, then young, politicians, he was the youngest Finance Minister in the history of Europe and the Director of the Directorate for Energy of Slovenia … As a private businessman for some time he use to “deal with the oil”, and he was also the head of Slovenia’s negotiating team in talks on South Stream.  He is straightforward, and on the observation that the Slovenes have sent heavy artillery in the EC headquarter in Vienna, he said in fluent Serbian:

– No, no. We just move forward.

ON: Starting from 2013, Serbia is chairing the EC, you will work in close coordination with our Minister, government officials, what do you specifically expect from Serbian chairing?

–  As Nejkov already said, there is no problem with Serbia, except for issues related to Kosovo. So I got the impression that in Serbia there is great readiness for regional cooperation. We all need these wins. I am satisfied that Serbia, what its good experience, shall lead the region. You are already a leader in the energy region. And it is important that other countries in the region see your good practice. I cannot be more specific, I have to study many more details…

ON: In the region, there is a general opinion that for many years the EU funds money is committed for the development of the energy sector, especially renewable sources, and to apply a very few projects, and that the money in some way – standing unused. Brussels officials often say that there are about 20 billion Euros for this purpose in the region, but that almost no one uses it.

– Well, those billions are not the money that would be waiting for us in the European budget. This is money that is potentially directed towards this region, mainly from private investors and other international organizations in addition to the EU. And all investors are waiting for a stable legal and sub-legal environment. Serbia is a good example because it has an independent regulator. Some countries do not function at all, they do not have even bad, in fact, do not have no laws, without which there is nothing. However, European money is directed towards energy infrastructure than to renewable sources. EU has defined the market with rights to formal use of renewable energy sources, so it can be sold, not electricity but the right of use the resources, those licenses can be sold. For example, Slovenia in the past has well earned on this from Italians. There’s a European incentive, but as an economic mechanism that should be used. Of great importance is the spatial planning, where we have big problems. But this segment requires large statutory changes.

ON: Do you mean changes in the feed in tariffs and their possible reduction?

– No, it’s not our job. It is the jurisdiction of each of the countries.

Source Serbia Energy Magazine