The third Energy Summit aimed at linking energy hungry Central Europe directly with the Caspian and Central Asian fuel stocks takes place in Kiev, Ukraine, later this week. It is the third stage of a process kicked off a year go by the Polish president Lech Kaczyński and one at the core of his international activities. So far however, his policies brought little results in terms of limiting Poland's energy dependence from Russia and building alternative strategic supply routes.
The plans were far-reaching and the map of presidential journeys promoting the idea of energy-linking two former areas of Soviet dominance covered most of Central Asia. Capitals of Georgia, Azarbaijan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Ukraine saw Mr Kaczyński's old Tupolev jet as frequently as the rest of the EU. He managed to rally his friends-presidents of Ukraine, Azarbaijan, Georgia and Lithuania behind the initiative but failed to get Kazakhstan on board. The absence of president Nazarbayev during the first energy summit in Kraków was a clear sign that the key to Central Asia may still lay in the Kremlin as Nazarbayev chose to host president Putin's visit instead.
After last fall early elections president Kaczyński lost the executive leverage and things seem to make little progress since. After the government led by his twin-brother Jarosław was ousted, he lost control of the key energy sector decision makers in government and state-owned business. The new ministers still uphold the priority of energy supplies diversity but rely more on the European Union than agreemens outside the EU framework. More importantly, they emphasise exploiting own resources like coal, natural gas and wind energy - an approach typical of the grassroot politicians currently in charge of the economy ministry rather than visionaries, willing to „change the world". The only practical result of the president's dealings was expanding the state-owned company responsible for the Odesa-Brody-Gdańsk project to include stakeholders from Azarbaijan, Lithaunia and Georgia.
In Ukraine it's more or less the same story - president Juschchenko may sign whatever he likes with his Polish counterpart but when it comes to digging new pipeline ditches he faces internal „orange" opposition of the led by prime minister Yulia Timoschenko and her people in the energy sector. But the Ukrainians are more advanced - at least they have already built the crucial pipeline to be used in the Odsesa-Brody-Gdańsk project. The Polish part of it exists still on paper only. And paper will not blush later this week, when another right statements will be put on it.
Building energy independence goes more than strenuously these days. Regional summits, bilateral meetings and even boldest declarations will not contribute to the work on the ground, when little is done outside the marble halls of power.