Amos Hochstein: Azerbaijan plays critical role in overall national, economic security of Europe (exclusive)

Amos Hochstein: Azerbaijan plays critical role in overall national, economic security of Europe (exclusive)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 21

By Aygun Badalova - Trend:

Trend Agency's exclusive interview with Amos J. Hochstein, US Secretary of State's Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, Bureau of Energy Resources.

Can you please share your views on the current state of the U.S. - Azerbaijan relationship?

The United States and Azerbaijan enjoy a strong relationship, working together for the last 23 years since Azerbaijan's independence. We have strengthened this bilateral relationship though our partnership on regional energy security. As is often the case with friends, we don't always agree on all things but we clearly understand the importance of the relationship. Both our countries work hard to ensure that whatever differences we may have don't affect our shared strategic interests both regionally and internationally.

You are known as a strong supporter of the Southern Gas Corridor. Can you please tell us what you think about Azerbaijan's contribution to regional and global energy security?

Azerbaijan plays a critical role in global energy security and in particular a key role for real energy security in Europe. In the 1990s, when the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, or the BTC, pipeline was being conceptualized, it was the vision and understanding of the leadership of Azerbaijan, who in sharing that vision with then President Clinton, at that time recognized that this pipeline was about more than just oil in a pipe, it was about the strategic nature of Azerbaijan as a member of the international community and the world energy community.

This pipeline allowed for oil from the Caspian region, for the first time, to reach international markets on a free market basis. I see the Southern Corridor as completing the circle that began with President Heydar Aliyev in the 1990s with BTC and being completed by President Ilham Aliyev with the Southern Gas Corridor.

Europe today suffers from a legacy of infrastructure that commits several countries to an untenable position of being forced to buy gas from Russia, a single dominant supplier who uses that position as political leverage for economic and political coercion. The Southern Corridor bringing gas from Azerbaijan all the way into Europe, is the only true diversification project in Europe today because it brings new gas through a new route providing real option for competition.

That is why I believe Azerbaijan's role in energy security in Europe is so critical and since energy security is the foundation of economic security and national security for every country, that means Azerbaijan plays a critical role in the overall national and economic security of Europe.

Secretary of State Kerry and other high-level officials often mention the Southern Gas Corridor in their speeches. Everyone also remembers the strong support of the US for the strategic and successful Baku Tbilisi Ceyhan oil pipeline. What does the US do in support of the Southern Corridor? What is your own role in this process?

As the Secretary of State's Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, I've dedicated a significant portion of my time over the past nearly five years I've been in this job, to ensuring the success of the Southern Corridor. Many years ago, at the beginning of the BTC discussions, most people doubted the possibility of translating the BTC from a vision into a reality because of the political challenges such a pipeline posed and yet it has become a reality.

Compare that to the ambition of the Southern Corridor which is an even more complicated pipeline. It requires the building of infrastructure from Azerbaijan, through Georgia, Turkey, Greece to Albania and ultimately to Italy with an interconnection from Greece into Bulgaria.

This involves several governments, several systems of governance, different regulations, and a wide variety of legal issues; not to mention the technical complexity of such a pipeline. The United States, who has no companies involved in this project and has nothing to gain economically, believes that this critical project is so important that we have followed it from day one until today.

We have worked to ensure that we do whatever we can, on an almost weekly basis, to offer the kind of support that smooths out differences when they arise and helps figure out the way forward when difficulties present themselves.

While I can't go into details of diplomatic engagements, I can assure you that not a week goes by when I or my team are not having discussions on these issues. And I want you to know, the commitment to this project is shared beyond my efforts but also by Secretary Kerry, Vice President Biden and President Obama; all have supported this project with action, not just speeches and words.

Recently, a bill driven by the Armenian lobby was introduced by Congressman Chris Smith. This bill does not just hurt the U.S. - Azerbaijan relationship, it also undermines strategic projects such as energy security and transportation that the US supports and has a negative impact of US allies in Europe as well as Israel and Turkey. What is your view on this bill? Some say the US Administration is against the bill, while some believe the State Department is behind it. Is there a clear answer to these questions?

It must be understood that the United States has three branches of government and that our Congress plays its own role. Every member of Congress has the prerogative, the right, to introduce legislation.

The process is a long one requiring adoption of proposed legislation by both our House of Representatives and Senate; only then can it be signed into law by the President if he or she so chooses. I don't comment on what is and is not appropriate for Members of Congress to do. Each Member is entitled to express their views and propose legislation. But I will remind you that at this time it is a proposed legislation. The U.S. Department of State is not involved in legislation as that is the purview of the United States Congress.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Meeting of Halk Maslahaty of Turkmenistan's Milli Gengesh held in Ashgabat
Meeting of Halk Maslahaty of Turkmenistan's Milli Gengesh held in Ashgabat
Turkmen company intends to export polypropylene yarn
Turkmen company intends to export polypropylene yarn
Eni Turkmenistan Ltd opens tender for supply of materials
Eni Turkmenistan Ltd opens tender for supply of materials
Loading Bars
Latest
Voting begins for Iceland's parliamentary election
Azerbaijan continues exercises with combat shooting jointly with Turkey in Nakhchivan (PHOTO/VİDEO)
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale September 26
Kazakhstan boosts trade with Sweden despite global pandemic
TEKNOFEST festival to be organized in friendly, fraternal Azerbaijan - Turkish president
Azerbaijan to limit traffic on Remembrance Day
Azerbaijani FM talks bilateral issues with his Kyrgyz colleague (PHOTO)
Britain expected to ease visa rules as truck driver shortage bites
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price dips
Azerbaijan negotiating on UNESCO Mission's visit to liberated territories - minister
Meeting of Halk Maslahaty of Turkmenistan's Milli Gengesh held in Ashgabat
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 1,099 more COVID-19 cases, 2,404 recoveries
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for September 25
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulates Turkmen counterpart
OIC Commission adopts declaration on results of mission to Azerbaijan
OIC experts visiting Azerbaijan's Ganja to view consequences of Armenia's missile strikes (PHOTO)
Turkmen company intends to export polypropylene yarn
Iran to boost crude oil extraction in Ilam Province
Digitalization - most important tool for ensuring transparency of transit traffic, says Azerbaijani minister
Azerbaijan's Azerpambig announces tender on purchase of spare parts for tractors
Georgia shares data on COVID-19 cases
Uzbekistan reveals number of vaccinated citizens as of September 25
Concentrix enters Georgian market
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Number of transactions at Uzbek stock exchange decreases
Kazakhstan's joint venture to purchase dosing pump through tender
Armenia, as a country in strategic future, doomed to disappear - Russian historian
Over 22,000 new Covid cases registered in Russia for first time since August 14
Iran to take part in exhibition on reconstruction of Azerbaijan's Karabakh
Weekly review of main events in Azerbaijan's transport sector
Iran against any occupation and aggression – Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan
UzAuto Motors restores manufacturing of several Chevrolet models
Profit of Georgian insurance companies announced
Int'l organizations should investigate Armenia's environmental terror - MP
Azerbaijan MHI State Agency opens tender to acquire MS licenses
Tension in relations between Iran and neighbors - serves enemies, says Iranian MP
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Uzbekistan shares COVID-19 data for September 25
Kazakhstan’s Ulba Metallurgical Plant opens tender to attract shipment services
Iranian currency rates for September 25
IFC supports National Bank of Georgia in amending Corporate Governance Code
IFC’s cooperation with National Bank of Georgia to help develop green bonds
Eni Turkmenistan Ltd opens tender for supply of materials
Azerbaijan notes increase in oil prices
OSCE MG co-chairs welcome meeting of Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs
Iran plans to increase exports to Iraq
Azercell Mobile Customer Care visits Shusha! (PHOTO)
Uzbekneftegaz develops new well, receives natural gas
Iran's membership in SCO positive move, but not a magic pill to solve all problems
Russia to increase share of low-carbon energy sources to 90% by 2035
S.Korea daily COVID-19 cases top 3,000 for first time after holiday
Australia urges to create ‘stronger, more independent’ WHO
Iran counts on thermal power plants to provide sustainable electricity in winter
Iran imports hay from Russia due to recent drought
UN chief calls for rapid decarbonization of energy systems
EU eyes investments in Baku port to make it greener and better connected digitally - EU official
2,324 more COVID-19 cases reported in Kazakhstan
Iran must ‘move quickly’ if it wants to resume nuclear deal talks: US official
Russian top diplomat, UN Secretary-General discuss Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine
U.S. CDC director says boosters needed to protect workers
Huawei CFO strikes deal with U.S. over fraud charges, allowing her to return to China
Children aged below 14 see highest COVID-19 rates in Ireland
Migrant camp on Texas border cleared, county judge says
PM Modi invites US President Biden to visit India
Heavy rains, flooding hit over 300,000 people in Sudan: UN
FMs of Azerbaijan and Armenia hold meeting with participation of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs
UK records another 35,623 coronavirus cases
Intel breaks ground on $20 bln Arizona plants as U.S. chip factory race heats up
U.S. House set to debate $1 trillion infrastructure bill Monday - Pelosi
Greta Thunberg joins tens of thousands of climate protesters in Berlin
Russia’s import of cars from Turkey up
Azerbaijani chess team wins bronze medal of European Club Cup (PHOTO)
Turkey will strive to be a leader in climate change fight
Turkmenistan holds ceremony of presenting passports to those granted citizenship
Assistant to Azerbaijani president talks bilateral and regional issues with Iranian Deputy FM
Georgia shares data on public debt
Uzbekistan receives new batch of Chinese vaccine
Biden says there will be consequences over Haiti migrants' treatment
Iran, Singapore discuss bilateral issues
Turkey's manufacturing capacity continues to rise in September
Norway to lift all COVID-19 restrictions: PM
Brent crude oil surpasses $78 per barrel, first time since October 2018
Azerbaijani FM, EU high rep exchange views on further prospects for co-op (PHOTO)
Anglo Asian Mining shares date of payment of dividends to shareholders for 2021
TBC Capital publishes updated macro-sectoral overview of Georgia
Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers approves state and consolidated draft budgets for 2022
Azerbaijani FM met his French colleague at 76 session of UN General Assembly
UNHRC on Azerbaijan's initiative makes statement on mine impact on human rights
Iran always wishes peace, security, prosperity to Azerbaijan – ambassador
Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers holds expanded meeting (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani banks see increase in volume of deposits
Private Iranian cargo companies warned regarding Karabakh - ambassador
South Korea interested in building 'smart farms' in Turkmenistan
Iraq interested to co-op with Azerbaijan in oil, gas sectors (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan to complete implementation of some projects with WB this year
Georgia unveils import and export volumes of wooden furniture
EBRD eyes to support investment financing for Georgian MSMEs
Shifting carbon tax burden to producers alone to hinder large scale CCS projects
OIC commission assesses damage from Armenia's missile strikes to Azerbaijan's Tartar
All news