Foreign Minister: Azerbaijan Already Plays Role of Economic Regional Leader
The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, said in Washington that Azerbaijan already plays a role as an economic regional leader. "The gross domestic product of Azerbaijan has doubled over the last three years. Last year the GDP growth was 35% and the present growth is 28%," he stated.
The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan spoke of three large-scale projects, in particular the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, strengthening the sovereignty of Azerbaijan and raising the welfare of the Country's population. According to Mammadyarov, BTC appears as a contributory factor in strengthening the stability in the region. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement on the use of BTC. Generally Kazakhstan is interested in transporting nearly 25 mln tons of oil via the pipeline.
The second project is the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline. "At the first stage, its capacity will be 8 bln cu.m of gas per year, thereafter increasing to 16 bln cu.m and at the final stage, to 24 bln cu.m," the Minister said. The gas pipeline will deliver gas from the Azerbaijani sector of Caspian to Georgia and Turkey for further delivery to Greece and Austria and from Greece to Italy. " Azerbaijan's companies are working on technical issues to extend the pipeline, in particular with Austria. It is a very interesting project for us that may be realized in 2012- 2014," the Minister said.
The third project is the railway Baku-Tbilisi-Kars pipeline. The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan said that a transport corridor between West and East may pass through Azerbaijan and Georgia. According to preliminary assessments, the railway may be built up over a period of 18 months. The cost of the project is between $400-$600 mln. "We hold negotiations with Kazakhstan, a country that is interested in this project. After Turkmenistan and China join the project, the railway will be beneficial," the Minister stated.