Baku, Azerbaijan, May 12
The projects bringing energy resources from new suppliers to Europe will contribute to the energy security of the Alliance, James Appathurai, the NATO secretary general's special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said May 12 in an interview with Azernews.
Appathurai said that NATO is not an energy institution and doesn't take part in pipeline projects that will bring Azerbaijani gas to Europe.
"The implementation of such projects is primarily the responsibility of the countries concerned," he said, adding, "However, as an Alliance that provides protection for almost 900 million citizens, NATO is interested in more energy security in Europe."
"This has been reiterated last year in September, at the Summit in Wales, where the Alliance declared that a stable and reliable energy supply, the diversification of routes, suppliers and energy resources, and the interconnectivity of energy networks remain of critical importance," Appathurai further noted.
"And while the organization is not involved in protecting pipelines, it has been engaged in cooperation with Azerbaijan on a number of energy issues over the past years," he said.
"We exchange information and best practices for energy infrastructure security. We organize conferences and scientific workshops that analyse new threats to infrastructure, such as cyber attacks, and discuss solutions for resilience. We consult on regional energy security vulnerabilities in NATO committees. And we have also recently enhanced the number of energy training and education activities open to Azerbaijan. We will continue this cooperation, and Azerbaijan's growing role as an energy supplier to Europe may offer new ideas for common activities," Appathurai noted.
Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority energy projects for EU. It envisages the transportation of gas from the Caspian Sea region to the European countries through Georgia and Turkey.
At the initial stage, 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 second stage of the Shah Deniz field's development, gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus gas pipeline and the construction of Trans-Anatolian and Trans-Adriatic gas pipelines.
Azerbaijani gas will be delivered to Europe approximately in early 2020 after the completion of construction of TAP (part of the Southern Gas Corridor).
Touching upon the partnership between the Alliance and Azerbaijan, Appathurai said that NATO and the country have developed a strong partnership, which goes back all the way to 1994 when Azerbaijan first joined the Partnership for Peace.
"The partnership consists both of political dialogue, with NATO and Azerbaijan exchanging ideas on a wide range of security issues, and practical cooperation," he said.
"Azerbaijan is a long-standing contributor to NATO operations," Appathurai further said, reminding that at present Azerbaijan supports NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan with an infantry company and specialized personnel.
"These contributions have been of great value," said Appathurai. "We also have strong cooperation in defence reform through a variety of NATO tools, and cooperation with the Ministry of Emergencies, the Internal Troops, the State Border Services and Azerbaijan's National Agency for Mine Action since many years."
He also said that in 2014, Azerbaijan and the Alliance adopted a new comprehensive program for cooperation in 2015-2016.
The program is called the Individual Partnership Action Plan, which is currently being implemented, according to him.