President of Poland (1995-2005)

But what is this paradox? That still we are in this situation of change and a lot of elements from the past and a lot of new elements of the future

Energy is a key factor today and will be a key factor tomorrow. Of course, in different conditions and in a different environment. I will say something about it, but this discussion, this exchange of opinions is extremely important and I think can change also our understanding of the situation and our strategy of what to do, especially if we are involved very much in energy policy or in this sector. I would like to say also that Burisma, for me — and that is why I am inside Burisma —Burisma’s activities are an example of the best that we can offer Ukraine today. The main problem of Ukraine as a state is its sovereignty, its independence. This nation has a long history that is more than a thousand years.

In history, Ukraine had very short periods of independence, sometimes it was only months. And that is the main question: how to establish strong statehood in the 21st century, especially in this geographical location, especially having such a neighbor as Russia with old cultural, political, historical and economic ties. And I think what we can offer Ukraine now, first of all, is energy independence.

I have even such an impression that the 21st century is a special time in our lives because change is nothing new in the history of mankind. Change was from the very beginning. If you can imagine the world of Adam and Eve and now – there is a huge change. But the speed, the pace of changes never was so fast, never was so quick. And that means to be prepared for all these changes is very difficult, especially for politicians for business people. But also for the citizens. Just imagine that smartphones are around only from 2007. And I remember the SMS was introduced in 1995-1997. It was an idea of communication with customers, to say that the system will work or that the system will not work. And now the SMS is a part of our life, and frankly speaking the young generations don’t even know how to write letters. A letter is an element of our past. So this change is extremely quick; it is very difficult to understand all these changes. It is very easy for generation of the internet; it is much more complicated for our generation, so-called digital immigrants.

And still there is a question how to find some balance or equilibrium between these two worlds. Because we have two different concepts. And in energy I see this paradox exists as well, because from our side we know very well that new technologies will come. We have the increasing role of new rules. Really this information that someone said a few weeks ago that 90% of energy in Germany was coming from wind, solar, etc. It is great. It means there is a new direction. So we have new technologies, new possibilities, we will have a lot of new devices which need less energy, not more – cars, but not only. We have also, what was discussed in this panel – an increasing role of consumers, this so-called democratization. The consumer that will be in the future battling producers of the energy that will change this situation. And that is something that we feel, that we understand is probably also a good change for us in the future, and that is this element of the 21st century. But we have a lot of elements, let’s say of the 19th and 20th century. And I will tell you a good story: I have a summer house on Masurian lakes in Poland and because we have a lot of storms now and the electricity was stopped once for many hours. The first hour was OK, well, nothing happened. After two hours, the situation was much more complicated. But after seven hours my wife and my self and even my dogs understood that that is impossible to live in, that it’s something for which we weren’t prepared, and even having mobile phones, etc, all these iPhones, iPads, etc. We have a problem because all the batteries need to be charged. So I tell you without electricity and if some terrorist attacks the energy system, we are closed. We as human beings are not prepared for the situation when we have no approach or no possibility to use electricity. And that is very much in the style, in the thinking of the past.