Azerbaijan leader says energy security boosts GUAM independence
(RIA Novosti) - Energy security of GUAM, a regional organization of four former Soviet republics, is vital for the independence of its member countries, Azerbaijan's president said Tuesday.
"Energy-security issues are now priorities for our regional development," Ilham Aliyev said. "The issues are directly linked with bolstering independence."
Aliyev told the leaders of GUAM, which comprises Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova and is widely seen as an attempt to counterbalance Russian influence in the region, that the alliance should step up efforts to ensure that the energy card did not affect sovereignty, reports Trend.
"We are at a new stage of strengthening our independence," he said. "And in this context, we must be utterly confident that the energy factor will not influence our independence."
Aliyev highlighted the region's major energy projects - the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline - and said that the creation of transport corridors by means of pipeline networks would contribute to regional energy security and independence.
Azerbaijan is the only GUAM member country to have substantial oil and natural gas reserves, whereas Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine are reliant on imports, principally through Russia.