Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 27
By Anakhanum Khidayatova - Trend:
The EU has a clear interest to work with Azerbaijan on energy, regional security, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said in an exclusive interview with Trend.
She made the remarks Feb. 27 in anticipation of her visit to Baku to participate in the second Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Meeting on Feb. 29.
"Our European Union and Azerbaijan share a clear interest in deepening our relationship," she said. "We aim at a broad and comprehensive agreement, and I believe that the past few months have signalled a turning point in our discussions: some difficulties remain, but we are much closer now on the need to have economic and political cooperation going hand in hand."
"The preparatory consultations for our new partnership are progressing well," she said. "I believe that we will soon have a discussion with the EU Member States on the launch of negotiations."
Speaking about the EU energy security, Mogherini said that the Southern Gas Corridor is vital to energy security strategy of the union, adding that it brings further diversification to the EU networks, and also offers a possibility to deepen political, economic and social ties with a number of partners in the region of the union.
The Southern Gas Corridor project envisages transportation of 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Georgia and Turkey.
At the initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects. Other sources can also connect to this project at a later stage.
As part of the Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz development, the gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.
The signature of the ''Ashgabat Declaration'' in May 2015 was an important step to ensure additional gas supplies from the Caspian region in the future, according to Mogherini.
"Further progress is being made in this regard: an active working group at vice-ministerial level has met in the course of 2015 and again just a few days ago," she said.
"During my visit to Baku I will also participate in the second Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial, alongside my colleague Maros Sefcovic, the vice-president of the European Commission, who is responsible for our Energy Union," Mogherini said.
She went on to add that this is not just about government and institutions: it is the gas exporters and the investors in various stages of the infrastructure who can set the pace of future developments.
Follow the author on Twitter: @Anahanum