European countries should be concerned about being overly dependent on one source of energy supply Ross Wilson, the former US ambassador in both Turkey and Azerbaijan, tells the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
"I think that the countries of Central and Western Europe and Eastern Europe should be concerned, as any country anywhere, about being overly dependent on one source of supply for a critical component of their national economy," said Wilson.
However, Wilson believes that the problem is not just about Russia, but about nations being able to "stand on their own feet."
For countries looking to diversify energy supplies, Wilson said he believes there are several alternatives to Russia. Wilson himself was ambassador to Azerbaijan when construction began on the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan, or BTC, pipeline. BTC transports oil supplies from Azeri oil fields in the Caspian Sea through Georgia to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
"For me it's not so much a Russia-specific issue, it's just being dependent on one source of supply for a critical component [of their national economy] is not a sound strategy," Wilson told the Daily News. "I think in part for that reason I supported [and] the U.S. government has strongly supported the development of Caspian Basin energy resources as an additional supply to what will always be large-scale purchases from Russia. Augment those with supplies that come from Kazakhstan, from Azerbaijan, maybe from Iraq at some point in the future and, if their policies change, maybe from Iran at some point as well."
Energy issues have a large impact on politics and foreign relations in the region. Attempts to promote new energy supply routes must take into account Russian concerns and Wilson sees ways around any potential conflicts.
"As you look now at the future of gas pipeline developments, you sort of have the same thing being played out, whether and how Russia is going to be accommodated, whether and how Russian resources might actually help to make gas pipelines more viable, finance-able, and exactly what the routes of large-scale, new gas pipelines might be," said Wilson. Speaking in reference to countries that he believes can be major energy suppliers to Eurasia, specifically Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Wilson said he believes "these are integral issues for these countries' foreign policies."