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Energy and Regional Issues discussed in Davos


Armen Sarkissian heads panel with presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, EU leaders

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 29 January 2009 – The World Economic Forum’s 39th Annual Meeting in Davos started with a keynote speech by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He told the opening plenary that Russia will work with the US, Europe and other countries to resolve the global financial crisis. “We cannot afford to be isolationist and egotistic,” he said, promising that Moscow will not resort to protectionism and erect trade barriers that will simply worsen the global financial crisis.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, speaking on the same day, stated that the global financial crisis has a “rather big impact” on China’s economy. “We are facing severe challenges, including notably shrinking external demand, overcapacity in some sectors, difficult business conditions for enterprises, rising unemployment in urban areas and great downward pressure on economic growth,” he said.

The global financial crisis is the main theme of this year’s gathering of some 2500 participants from 96 countries, including 41 heads of state or government as well as finance, foreign affairs, trade and energy ministers, heads of non-governmental organizations, social entrepreneurs and religious leaders. Forum members are comprised of 1,000 of the foremost companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

Armenia’s former Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian, who is the Chairman of the Global Energy Security Council, participated as a speaker in a plenary session on “An Integrated Approach to Energy, Food and Water Security”. The discussions focused on the impact of the global financial turmoil on supply and distribution of natural resources in view of the facts that 1 billion people around the world lack clean water, one in four lacks electricity, and 25,000 die of hunger each day. The speakers addressed the hidden interrelationships between food, water and energy. Water and energy are more closely interlinked than many assume.

Speaking about energy security in the future, Sarkissian said: “Strong policies and serious commitments to alternative sources and supplies of energy from North Africa, Central Asia and the Caspian are needed,” adding that “an open and pragmatic, multilateral dialogue with Russia, Central Asian and Caucasus countries” are urgent.

On Thursday, Armen Sarkissian chaired a special panel on Oil and Gas Geopolitics. The high level panellists included President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, EU Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs, OPEC Secretary General Salem Abdalla El Badri, Mexican Energy Minister Georgina Kessel, South African Minister of Minerals Buyelwa Patience, as well as top executives of major energy companies, Exxon Mobile chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Total chairman Thierry Desmarest, Eni SpA chairman Roberto Poli, E.On chairman and CEO Wulf Bernotat, president and CEO of StatoilHydro Helge Lund, and others.

In his concluding remarks, Armen Sarkissian said: “While financial markets and governments are preoccupied with saving economies from meltdown, a potential major crisis in the global energy supplies and environmental dangers could be looming not in the far future. More than in any other time, in this age of globalisation politics, economics and energy are intertwined. That is why cooperation among regional countries as well as around the globe are essential to start to tackle the critical issues facing our globe today”.