Interview with Polish President: Krakow Energy Summit – an Attempt to Reinforce Cooperation between Central Europe, South Caucasus, and Central Asia
Azerbaijan, Baku/ Trend , corr. A. Gasimova; E. Husseynov/ exclusive interview with Poland's President, Lech Kaczynski on the threshold of the Krakow Energy Summit:
- What importance does Poland, an organizer of the Energy summit, attach to the forthcoming forum due in May? What issues will be discussed at the summit?
- The Krakow meeting of Presidents is an attempt to tighten the cooperation between countries of Central Europe, Southern Caucasus and Central Asia, which lie in the Eurasian transport corridor. Azerbaijan, with its energy resources and position in this corridor, is a key partner in potential cooperation. At the same time, I would not want to treat the Krakow meeting as a one-off initiative. I would rather it were the beginning of a broader and more intensive regional cooperation, which would cover a wider range of partners, including the European Union and the United States. I can disclose at this point that the next meeting is planned for autumn, in Vilnius.
- What initiative can Poland put forward during the summit? What importance does Poland attach to the energy resources of the Caspian region and their transportation to European countries?
- The keynote subject of the Krakow meeting is energy co-operation, however we will also be discussing many other unrelated topics such as transport, cooperation in the area of investments or infrastructure. However for Poland, there is a project of extreme importance included in the summit, which has been waiting for implementation for many years - the Odessa-Brody-Plock pipeline that involves all countries, maybe except Lithuania. This project is closely related to resources from the Caspian Sea: both in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Poland has an interest in these resources as regards to export, but also in their possible extraction. I think the Polish market, especially the market of the European Union, is a promising one for Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan-based resources.
- What are your estimations on the results of your official visit to Azerbaijan? How do you estimate the current state and future of bilateral cooperation between Poland and Azerbaijan in political, economic and other fields? How do they meet the existing potential?
- I consider the visit to Azerbaijan a very successful one. I am particularly satisfied with the talks and mutual understanding I had with President Ilham Aliyev. The visit proved that our relations have been elevated and are developing greatly. Evidence of this is the volume of high-profile visits. Apart from myself, Baku was visited recently, amongst others, by Piotr Wozniak, Polish Minister of Economy, Bogdan Borusewicz, Speaker of the Senate and Anna Fotyga, Foreign Minister.
I am also positive about the prospects of economic cooperation. Although our trade exchange is not very extensive at the moment, it has nevertheless grown dynamically of late. I hope this will continue to grow in coming years. Azerbaijan also plays an important role in the Southern Caucasus region. We would like a country with such potential to cooperate even closer with the EU and NATO in order for this cooperation to reinforce democracy and market economy.
- During the visit you stressed the opportunities for closer cooperation of the two countries in the energy sector. Is Poland interested in purchase of Azerbaijani energy resources? What sectors of the Azerbaijani economy are reasonable for Polish investors?
- For Poland, Azerbaijan is a crucial partner in the area of energy. As I already mentioned, due to its location it plays a great role in building a transit corridor for energy resources from Central Asia via Southern Caucasus to Europe.
I think that intensive energy cooperation between our countries may bring mutual benefits. Polish companies are interested in gaining access to the resources while Azerbaijani producers would like to enter the Central European market, including Poland's. Some Polish companies have already expressed interest in developing cooperation in this respect. I can mention Orlen or PGNiG. However, the implementation of large infrastructural projects requires intensive international cooperation. Azerbaijan has demonstrated that it is a serious and reliable partner in this area. Polish investors look with interest at Azerbaijan's dynamically growing economy, not only in the energy sector. The building construction boom has led to strong interest in Polish companies in this very sector. I also see opportunities for cooperation in the food and pharmaceutical sectors.
- What assistance could Poland offer Azerbaijan in the expansion of relationships with the European Union and NATO?
- Poland, as a member of the EU and NATO, is actively supporting the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the two organisations. I think that close cooperation with Euro-Atlantic and European structures will be extremely fruitful for Azerbaijan. For three years, Azerbaijan has been covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, under which the Action Plan, now in implementation, was signed. Poland continues to express its readiness to help Azerbaijan in implementing selected provisions of the Action Plan, as we declared in the Memorandum on cooperation in the area of European integration between the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Azerbaijani counterpart, signed during the recent visit of Minister Fotyga in Baku. I think that Poland's experience from pre-accession times may be extremely useful for Azerbaijan. As regards to NATO, we speak in favour of development of cooperation under the Partnership For Peace Programme. It is important both for reforms in the Azerbaijani army as well as for strengthening stability and peace in the Southern Caucasus region. After all, NATO is involved in countries lying not far from Azerbaijan; hence cooperation with NATO is not only materially important for Baku, but also for NATO members.