Azerbaijani president receives in video format new president of EBRD (PHOTO) (UPDATE)

Azerbaijani president receives in video format new president of EBRD (PHOTO) (UPDATE)

Details added (first version posted March 11 at 20:00)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 11


President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in a video format new President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Odile Renaud-Basso and other members of the Bank's senior management.

Welcoming the EBRD delegation, President Ilham Aliyev said:

Good afternoon,

-Madame President, dear ladies and gentlemen, very glad to see you. I am glad to have this opportunity to talk to you about our future plans. Of course, due to the pandemic we have to use this opportunity of video conference. First of all, I would like to express gratitude for this attention which the bank paid to Azerbaijan. I think we have established a very strong partnership relationship during the last almost 30 years. The bank supported us in transformation of the country and diversification of our economy. The fact that we have more than 3 billion euros in project financing is a clear demonstration of that. Also, it is very important that now half of this portfolio is the funds which were channelled to the private sector. This is also very good indicator of our cooperation.

As far as the infrastructure projects which have been implemented by our state companies almost all of them have already been completed. I was informed that we had 13 projects, 12 of them have been successfully completed and the last one is in the process of completion. I am also very grateful for support from EBRD to our energy projects, particularly Southern Gas Corridor, and its last portion - TAP, which EBRD financed at amount of 1 billion euros. As you know last day of last year we celebrated the inauguration of TAP and the Southern Gas Corridor. So, that was really a historical achievement which changed completely the energy map of Eurasia. Now, as you know our main objective is to continue diversification of our economy. The results, I think, are very promising, especially this year and last year, despite pandemic, despite some contraction of our GDP we have growth in non-energy related industry production. These two months we have growth of more than 12 percent. So, this is a good indicator of diversification of our industry. We managed to channel the funds which we accumulated from oil sales to support private sector, to support our industrial potential and the 12 percent growth in non-energy industry really is a remarkable event. Now, our main objective is obviously the restoration of the liberated territories. As a result of Armenian occupation for more than 25 years, almost 30 years, everything is destroyed. Foreign diplomats, and media representatives have already visited the liberated territories many times and they witnessed themselves total devastation and destruction. The cities are destroyed, the villages are destroyed. So we will have to rebuild the big area of more than 10 thousand square kilometres in order to provide decent living conditions for people, for more than one million former refugees who are waiting to return to their homeland. So, this is our main objective and we started already, despite the fact that only 4 months have passed since declaration was signed which actually was the end of the conflict and the end of war, already we started. We are now building the international airport, we are building highways, building railroads, already started. We plan by the end of this year to complete almost 100 percent the energy supply to the whole Karabakh area. We have many other plans and, of course, we count on a cooperation with EBRD on these issues. I already have declared the liberated territories as a green energy zone. We plan to use mostly renewable energy sources, sources of water, sun and wind. We already have good experience in working with big international energy companies, by the way, EBRD is part of the financing to these investment projects. We hope that the same pattern will be applied to the liberated territories because there is a big potential in renewable energy sources. In other words, it is a new period or even a new era in development of Azerbaijan and development of the region. After Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have been resolved, after almost 30 years, there are new opportunities for regional development, regional cooperation, connectivity and Azerbaijan is ready for that. I already publicly elaborated on that saying that we are ready for cooperation, we are ready to turn the page of hostility and to work with our neighbours in good face, in order to provide better situation and more predictable situation in the region. So, this is basically small overview of what has been done, and some of our plans. Of course, during the discussions we will discuss more broadly about practical steps of our future partnership. So, once again thank you for this initiative to meet. I am very glad to see you again.

New President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Odile Renaud-Basso said:

- Mr. President, thank you very much. Thank you for the initial presentation. I would like to congratulate you on the successful management of the COVID-19 crisis. All countries are now facing this challenge, and this crisis is causing economic problems in many places around the world. You have a better situation than other countries.

Speaking about cooperation with Azerbaijan, Odile Renaud-Basso said: "Last year we focused on the private sector, socially significant and environmental impact assessment projects in local currency in support of small and medium enterprises were implemented successfully. We are also pleased to cooperate with the Central Bank in financing projects in local currency by concluding a SWAP agreement. This, in turn, is important in terms of supporting small and medium enterprises. It is gratifying that the Southern Gas Corridor project, to which we have made a significant financial contribution, has been completed. We were closely involved in this project and are glad that the project has already been fully implemented. We appreciate our cooperation in the field of energy."

New President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Odile Renaud-Basso said that they cooperate with the Azerbaijani government in the field of wind and solar energy and stressed the importance of adopting legal framework in this area.

During the meeting, the sides also hailed the level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and expressed confidence that this cooperation would deepen further.

The sides exchanged views on transport, renewable energy, Ganja-Green City projects, those related to the Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company, telecommunications, banking sector, as well as projects to be implemented in the liberated territories.

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