Deputy Prime Minister Bytyqi at the "Southeast Europe Energy Forum": North Macedonia becomes an energy hub in the Western Balkans

In the very beginning I would like to offer my gratitude to the organizers: the American-Greek Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM Greece) and the Hellenic Association for Energy Economics, as well as the co-organizers of this important forum, the US Embassy and the Atlantic Council, for the invitation they have extended for me to be part of this panel discussing the significance of the energy connectivity of the countries in our region.

In the past few years, we have established the energy policies in the Republic of North Macedonia on stable foundations. They guarantee secure and stable energy supply, but also diversification of the supply based on clean and green energy, thus enabling sustainable economic growth of our country.

Our new Energy Law is fully aligned with EU regulations as well as with the Energy Union, which is transposed in the new Energy Development Strategy up to 2040 and the National Plan for Climate and Energy, that is pending adoption, for this the energy community has praised our efforts and commitment we have done in the energy sector as we are the first country on the Western Balkans to do so.

Considering the current situation with COVID-19 and its effect it has on the world economy, we took a step further and aligned all the plans that were created for implementation of these documents with COVID-19 economic recovery andthe “European Green Deal”.

Today on this Forum we signed the agreement between the national transmission companies for gas in North Macedonia (NER) and in Greece (DESFA). This agreement defines the conditions for cooperation and the time frame for construction of gas interconnector between the two countries. This is one of our key projects. The construction of this inter-connector will open many possibilities for our country’s, and they will give us the opportunity to position ourselves as a regional hub for gas supply of the countries in the region of Southeast Europe and beyond, and for our national economy  will mean diversified energy supply and enhance competitiveness.

In addition to the investments in the inter-connector with Greece, we are planning inter-connectorswith Kosovo,Serbia and Albania. This will open the horizon for enhancing regional cooperation and competitiveness of the common regional market.

The competitiveness of the South East Europe with today’s investment in the interconnectors will be predecessor of the transmission of hydrogen as future energy source.

Therefore, we all together are showing that investing today in safer, competitive, cheaper, and more environmentalfriendly energy supply will mean investing in our future. As a country being aware of this, we are fully committed and convinced that the targets set in the revised National Determined Contributions, which was recently adopted, will be fully met as planned. In all sectors by 2030 we plan to reduce 51% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels.

Beside the interconnector previously mentioned, we have already signed an agreement for cooperation for construction of the gas terminal in Alexandropoulos where North Macedonia will participate with10% of the shares for the terminal. At the same time, we will participate in the ownership of a gas power plant in the vicinity of Alexandropoulos where North Macedonia participates with 25% share. We have proven that it is possible to cooperate, that there is no irreconcilable gap and that through dialogue, mutual respect, understanding and cooperation each challenge can be resolved. These strategic projects, of great importance for the whole region and supported by our partners EU and NATO, are a standing proof of it.

In this occasion I would like to mention an additional joint effort which shows the visionary approach of North Macedonia and Hellenic Republic where geopolitical positions are used wisely in increasing the competitiveness and economic wellbeing of the citizens in both countries, recently we agreed that in the first quarter of 2022 the pipeline for refined oil distribution between Thessaloniki and Skopje will be put in place.

All this, in terms of investment for us as a country is a result of our Energy Development Strategy 2040. Our commitment to the Green Agenda foresees implementation of the program for “Just Transition” that envisages transition from energy production from conventional sources using fossil fuels to production of energy from renewable resources.

The mid-term and long-term planning of the key investment ventures in the country are not just an empty statement nor a technical obligation for checking part of the obligations that our government has undertaken; quite the contrary, we are truly committed to implementing our plans. The signing of today’s Memorandum is yet another proof that our commitment results in concrete projects.

When speaking of mid-term and long-term planning, this year, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia adopted an important document – the Interventive Investment Plan. This plan, for a mid-term period, until 2027, envisages realization of investments in the amount of 8.2 billion EUR.

The total investments mostly focus on energy projects with a level of 3.1 billion EUR. This proves our focus on transitioning to the green energy. This is followed by 2.7 billion EUR in road and railway infrastructure which serves as an example that we are committed to building connections with our neighbours and providing conditions for better competitiveness of both North Macedonia and the whole Western Balkans region.

We are doing all of this having in mind our future, but we have to keep in mind that the best policy in energy is not the one that has the greatest benefit according to academic policy recommendations in some distant future. It is the one that arrives to the people and serves their needs now: clean, affordable, and giving the comfort they deserve.

Therefore, my friends, colleagues, let’s take it from here and with all our joint efforts to create better and safer environment for our citizens.