BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 23. In the global context, the issues of transport and energy connectivity have become paramount, if not the most crucial. Azerbaijan, amidst these challenging times, diligently focuses on enhancing its logistics and transportation infrastructure, while actively seeking new approaches to ensure its energy security and support its partners. President Ilham Aliyev's visionary and comprehensive policy has resulted in strengthened cooperation between Azerbaijan and its European allies in recent years. Notably, Azerbaijan has witnessed numerous high-level visits and business delegations from various European nations, further solidifying the bonds of cooperation.
Lithuania, in this regard, is one of the leading countries to boost bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan. The two countries engage in extensive bilateral cooperation across diverse fields of mutual interest, encompassing politics, economy, culture, and diplomacy. The concerted efforts of both the countries are focused on fostering collaboration and fortifying their ties. President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Vilnius on May 22 has once again reaffirmed the shared commitment of both countries to further strengthen bilateral cooperation and enhance their collaborative engagement on the global stage.
During the Azerbaijani-Lithuanian business forum, which took place in Vilnius yesterday, President Ilham Aliyev pointed out the growing importance of Lithuania and Azerbaijan as transportation hubs of their own regions, noting the need and feasibility of establishing connectivity between the regions of Caspian and Baltic Sea.
“If we look at the energy map of Europe it has been changed dramatically mainly due to the initiatives of Azerbaijan. Oil pipelines, gas pipeline create a completely new situation. The same with the transportation. We built new connections together with our neighbors and partners. We're investing largely into the sea port infrastructure of Baku. We are investing in building more vessels, which will be able to transport more cargos across the Caspian. Therefore, for business communities, I think, it's the right time to evaluate this opportunity and not to be late because, definitely, these enormous transportation opportunities, especially in the current geopolitical situation, will create added-value,” President Ilham Aliyev said.
Routes passing through Azerbaijan have become increasingly appealing thanks to the country's efforts in providing optimal conditions for secure and efficient transit. With its modern transportation infrastructure, including railways, roads, and sea routes, Azerbaijan offers significant cost and time savings. It comes as no surprise that the volume of cargo transit through Azerbaijan witnessed a remarkable increase of over 75 percent last year.
Situated at the crossroads of the Middle Corridor and the North-South Transport Corridor, Azerbaijan is poised to leverage numerous distinct advantages to bolster its transport and logistics capabilities and unlock opportunities across various sectors. Notably, significant progress has been achieved in the development of both the Middle Corridor and the North-South Transport Corridor, with major projects successfully concluded.
At the same time, while addressing the participants of the forum, President Ilham Aliyev highlighted bright prospects for cooperation in the field of traditional energy sources, as well as the renewables, between Azerbaijan and Lithuania, noting enormous wind potential in the Baltic and Caspian Sea.
“Both countries have this on our agenda. In our case, though we are on the safe side with respect to energy security, but still, we want to save more natural gas for export and to use our nature - wind and sun - in order to produce electricity, especially taking into account that last July the European Commission and Azerbaijan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on strategic partnership in the field of energy. Based on this memorandum, we are supposed to double our natural gas supply to Europe until 2027. In 2021, our natural gas supply to Europe was 8 bcm, this year it will be 12 bcm and by 2027 it will reach 20 bcm. I think this is minimum because the potential is here. We are producing more natural gas from existing fields. Very soon we will announce important production from one of the big fields of the Caspian. And also investments in renewables will allow us to save natural gas for export,” President Ilham Aliyev added.
And, indeed, the prospects of uniting the Baltics with the Caucasus, open up promising opportunities for all stakeholders in the wider region. Bringing the Caspian closer to Europe will simultaneously foster closer cooperation with the countries of Central Asia, and further, China. In a rapidly changing world, where global transportation chains have shifted, Azerbaijan's pivotal role as a unifying link between East and West is indispensable, and everyone across Europe understands this. The signing of strategic agreements with European partners in recent years underscores the significance of Azerbaijan’s policy under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev. As a prominent player in the South Caucasus region, Azerbaijan's importance extends beyond its immediate neighbors, making it a significant actor on the European continent as a whole.