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Background

The Institute of Energy for South East Europe (IENE) was founded in 2003 by a small group of independent professionals and business executives active in the energy sector of the region. The Institute, which has its headquarters in Athens, Greece, is a nongovernmental and nonprofit organization.

The founding of the Institute came in response to the strong integration process and rapid economic development experienced by most countries in SE Europe in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s in their move away from centralized type administrative systems to open market economies following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In addition to the pressures of market liberalization the region had to cope, and is still coping, with some major reconstruction issues following the break-up of Yugoslavia (SFR) and the establishment in its place of various independent states.

The rebuilding process in the case of West Balkans and the market liberalization process for the whole region has been long and difficult. Consequently, these countries initiated energy reforms at a later stage than other European economies in transition. Electricity systems, for example, in some parts of the region still remain extremely fragile and as a result low system reliability and low efficiency impede economic recovery. However, reliable and affordable energy supply in all its forms is crucial for economic development and social welfare, for the whole S.E. European region.

Treating the S.E. European area as a whole, i.e. as a homogeneous regional entity, although necessary, for the purpose of study and analysis is not easy in practice since the constituent parts are far from uniform in terms of defining characteristics. A multitude of tiny, small and larger new nation states, but with very old origins, which now comprise the Western Balkans area, stand opposite the older (in terms of national boundaries) countries of the Eastern Balkans, with Greece’s mountainous island like structure in the south and Turkey’s huge continental expanse in the east. But more than geography the region is embedded in people’s minds for different reasons mainly related with its Ottoman past, as most of the area was part of the Ottoman Empire as recently as the end of the 1910’s but also because it’s more recent Soviet dominance, following the Second World War, has left an inedible mark in many economies.

A brief look at the map of SE Europe and a cursory examination of its basic economic and energy statistics will reveal the great disparities that exist between the countries of the region.

Map of SE Europe

There are marked differences over a wide spectrum of economic and social parameters to an extent that makes one wonder if there is any merit in pursuing a common stand in the hope of establishing integrated strategies for the area. On the other hand it is evident that the relatively small and fragmented states of S.E. Europe can no longer move alone and pursue truly independent economic, let alone energy policies.

Even the largest states of the region such as Turkey, which enjoys a strong geopolitical position, needs to develop close ties and partake into the energy policies of neighbouring countries, like Bulgaria and Greece, in order to advance its own energy interests. Thus, a sense of interdependence becomes inevitable. As a result, all countries have their eyes set towards the broader region of South East Europe where the development of meaningful economic relations and cooperation, based on mutually beneficial policies, have energy as their common denominator.

The signing in Athens, in October 2005, of the ECSEE Treaty, the setting up the following year of the EU backed "Energy Community” and the initiation of the Athens Process, opened up new and particularly interesting prospects for the development of a broader energy market in the region. This major development provided a further strong impetus for the mobilization of the Institute of Energy for SE Europe, enabling its firm establishment and gradual emergence as a truly regional organization.

IENE EVENTS Energy Security in SE Europe and the Role of LNG10th SE Europe Energy Dialogue

PUBLICATIONS SEEEO 2016-2017 SEEED More

COOPERATING ORGANISATIONS IEA WEC Energy Community BBSPA EPG AERS ROEC BPIE RCEN Geothermal Finance and Awareness in European Regions