As Prepared for Delivery: Prague, Czech Republic
Thank you for that kind introduction.
Its truly an honor and a privilege to be here in the Czech Republic… addressing you on this special year in Czech history…the 100th anniversary of your independence and of diplomatic relations between our two countries.
Over the last century, our two countries have shared tremendous moments.
It was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who… in his famous “14 points speech”… espoused the right of nations to form their own states as a core principle for establishing lasting peace following the First World War.
And when prominent Czech and Slovak leaders met in May of 1918 to declare their intention to form an independent nation… they did so in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
These leaders based their own constitution… in part… on America’s Constitution.
And when Tomas Masaryk drafted your Declaration of Independence in October 1918 shortly before he became your country’s president on November 14, 1918…exactly a century ago today… he did so in Washington, D.C.
When it comes to independence, this great hall also has special meaning.
It is here that the Warsaw Pact was dissolved on the 1st of July, 1991.
It is here that you renounced decades of Soviet domination that chained your military and national security apparatus to Moscow.
That pivotal moment came just two years after you won back your freedom during the Velvet Revolution.
But independence can be threatened in other ways besides outright invasion.
It can be threatened when a nation’s vulnerabilities are exploited through coercion and manipulation.
Today, this threat is unmistakably present when it comes to energy security.
By any measure, energy security is a vital component of national security.
Energy security means abundant…affordable… sustainable… and yes, reliable supply.
But energy security requires energy diversity…a diversity of supply… of countries providing that supply… and of routes to deliver that supply.
In the 1990s, the Czech Republic took bold steps in this direction by building new interconnections … allowing it to diversify both sources and routes with market-driven prices.
Thanks to these efforts, your country is far more energy secure … and that is of critical importance to the United States.
As NATO allies, your national security is our national security.
But the problem is… many of our European partners and NATO allies lack this security and diversity.
They are highly dependent on a single supplier…the Russian Federation … for a single source of supply.
In 2015, 35% of total European gas imports came from Russia, and today, 13 European nations continue to rely on Russian gas for 75% or more of their annual needs.
The dangers of excessive dependence were highlighted in 2006, 2009, and again in 2014.
On each occasion, Russia cut off gas supplies to and through Ukraine… harming that nation as well as other European allies and friends.
And that is a key reason President Trump and I oppose the Nord Stream 2 construction project.
We believe it would increase dependence on Russian gas.
Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream are not commercial projects as their proponents proclaim…they are naked political gambits aimed at driving a wedge between Europeans.
They would increase Russia’s leverage over Europe’s foreign policy…and Europe’s vulnerability to a supply disruption.
In other words, projects like Nord Stream 2 would deliver multiple blows to Europe’s energy diversity and security.
We encourage our European partners to view these projects with appropriate skepticism...and to seek sources for their energy besides the Russian Federation.
While I was in Bucharest in September for the Three Seas Summit, I announced the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation.
Through this Partnership, we’ll work with Europe to catalyze investment for the north-south energy corridor and beyond in order to ensure access to diverse energy sources of all types and origins.
We have endorsed key pipeline interconnectors across Central and Eastern Europe, a region that especially relies on Russian gas.
And we commend the Czech Republic for leading by example in this pivotal area.
You have shown the world how a former Soviet satellite can break its reliance on a single gas supplier.
By building gas pipelines with your neighbors… and by having adequate gas storage facilities… you have the infrastructure you need to import energy from multiple sources… making you far less vulnerable to supply disruptions or threats to create such disruption.
And let me also applaud you for reforming your gas market…so your prices are now driven by supply and demand… not political negotiations with the Kremlin.
We encourage all of Europe to follow in your footsteps…and we encourage Europe to look westward…across the Atlantic… to increase its diversity of LNG suppliers.
By any measure, the United States has plenty of LNG to provide.
We are the world’s leading producer of both oil and natural gas.
Last year, we became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time since 1957.
We have already shipped LNG to 31 nations on five continents.
Simply stated, no one has more LNG than America…and America is open for business.
While we do not oppose Russia supplying natural gas to Europe, we believe Russian producers must abide by the same rules as other suppliers.
As President Trump stated at the Three Seas Summit in Warsaw last year,
“The United States will never use energy to coerce your nations, and we cannot allow others to do so.”
But besides increasing their diversity of suppliers by obtaining natural gas from non-Russian producers… there is another way that European countries can wean themselves from Moscow’s coercive gas monopoly.
They can diversify their actual sources of supply.
Let me cite one example:
Peaceful nuclear power provides emissions-free energy 24/7.
We strongly support our allies’ use of this energy… and we offer American technology and service providers for delivery of high-quality, innovative solutions… as well as financing for nuclear projects.
So we wholeheartedly support the Czech Republic on its inclusion of nuclear power in its energy mix.
But remember what I said about energy suppliers.
What matters is not just having nuclear technology… what matters is whose nuclear technology you will have.
And that is exactly what you face concerning a proposal to build a new unit at the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant.
The question is whether you should enter into a relationship with a supplier like Rosatom.
The question is whether you trust a supplier that is owned and operated by the Russian Federation.
Given all that I’ve just said, this could clearly harm your own national security as well as that of our NATO allies.
Yes, nations have electricity needs and the Czech Republic is no exception.
But the good news is that the choice you face is not Russian supply versus no supply.
You have multiple options…and fortunately you have time…up to 20 years…to decide which options to choose.
On the demand side, you can invest in smart grid technology and energy efficiency.
On the supply side, you can import electricity in the open market.
You can extend the life of the existing units at the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant…and let me add that the United States has tremendous experience to share on safely extending the operating life of nuclear plants.
You can invest in a new Pressurized Water Reactor to be built at that plant.
Beyond nuclear, you can deploy clean coal and gas-fired power generation, along with renewables.
And you will clearly benefit when tomorrow’s technologies… from energy storage to small modular nuclear reactors… come on line.
As I look to the future, I look forward to great things.
I look forward to building on the deep and abiding friendship between our two countries and on reaffirming by word and deed the values we share.
I look forward to strengthening our bonds as NATO allies.
I look forward to our continuing to invest in each other’s economies to bring jobs and prosperity to both sides of the Atlantic.
And beyond our two countries, I look forward to a community of sovereign nations, trading with and benefiting from each other… freely and fairly, without coercion.
I look forward to these nations achieving energy diversity at every turn…so together… they can achieve true energy security and economic prosperity.
For that can only mean a more stable, secure, and safer world for all.
This is my vision…this is my country’s vision...and I know it is your vision as well.
So let us reaffirm our vision today…for the sake of our two nations… and for the sake of the world.