Baku, Azerbaijan, May 23
Timely and successful finalization of the Southern Gas Corridor project is critical for bringing alternative gas volumes to Europe, said Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
He made the remarks addressing a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Eastern Partnership countries in Brussels May 23.
The revised European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) reaffirmed the importance of completing the Southern Gas Corridor project for achieving the pan-European energy security, said the foreign minister.
"The groundbreaking ceremony of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), held on May 17 in Thessaloniki, Greece, marked another milestone in this regard," he added. "Azerbaijan is and will remain a committed partner to meet joint strategic interests in the field of energy security."
Mammadyarov noted that Azerbaijan has always demonstrated a strong political will to develop the relations with the EU based on principles of equal partnership and mutual benefit.
He recalled that Azerbaijan introduced the draft Strategic Partnership Agreement to the EU a year ago.
"This agreement will lay the solid foundation for upgrading our bilateral relationship to qualitatively new level and for better securing our common interests," said Mammadyarov.
He said the visit of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini to Azerbaijan was a good opportunity for reviewing and discussing the future direction of the EU-Azerbaijan relations.
"We attach great importance to enhancing our bilateral cooperation in many areas of shared interest, and, having recently finalized joint consultations on the scope of Strategic Partnership Agreement, we understand that the EU will come up with an official mandate to launch negotiations soon," said Mammadyarov.
"Currently, we are working on the resumption of existing political dialogue mechanism aimed at re-energizing our bilateral cooperation," said the minister. "Furthermore, we are also ready to resume negotiations on Common Aviation Agreement with the EU."
"There is huge untapped potential in the area of transport as well," noted Mammadyarov.
"Azerbaijan continues to make all the efforts to further contribute to the development of transit corridors in our region, particularly the East-West and South-North corridors."
The minister also said the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, expected to be operational by the end of this year, will join the ranks of the region's most critical infrastructures once China's Silk Road Economic Belt concept comes to the full reality.
"These projects will serve as an effective instrument for engagement in wider areas of common interest between the EU and Azerbaijan," he added.
The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority energy projects for the EU. It envisages the transportation of 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian Sea region to the European countries through Georgia and Turkey.
At the initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects.
As part of the Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz development, the gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).