Azerbaijan, Baku, 17 March / Trend corr A. Badalova/ Interview with Minister of Development of Greece, Mr. Christos Folias, who arrived in Baku on 17 March, at the Trend News Agency.
Question: Which new agreements do you intend to sign in the near future, and how can these help in improving the trade turnover of the two countries?
Answer: I have been very much looking forward to visiting Baku and working towards the enhancement of relations between Azerbaijan and Greece. For this purpose we have prepared draft Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding on a wide variety of topics, which include the following: cooperation in Research and Technology, Renewable Energy Sources and energy efficiency, cooperation between the Hellenic Food Authority and the relevant administration in Baku and cooperation between the Hellenic Organization for Standardization and the State Agency of Standardization, Metrology and Patents of Azerbaijan.
Thus, the agenda of my visit in Baku includes meetings with the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev, whom I had the pleasure of having met before at the inauguration of the Turkish-Greek natural gas pipeline in November 2007, the Prime Minister Mr. Arthur Rasizade, the Minister of Industry and Energy Mr. Natiq Aliyev, the Minister of Finance Mr. Samir Sharifov, the Minister of Economic Development Mr. Heydar Babayev, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov and the President of SOCAR Mr. Rovnag Abdullayev.
Question: It is known that Greece is interested in Azerbaijani gas from the Shah-Deniz field. Will the volumes and terms of supply of Azeri gas to Greece be discussed during the visit?
Answer: We hope to conclude an Agreement regarding the supply of natural gas for the domestic market in Greece in the near future. I should note that the Agreement between Azerbaijan and Greece on cooperation in energy issues, signed in 2007, was recently ratified by the Greek Parliament. This Agreement provides for a Joint committee and it is my objective to ensure that we establish this as soon as possible as we have many issues of common concern that we should work together to promote.
During my visit, I will be discussing the importance, both for my country and for Europe as a whole that Azerbaijan constitutes for the development of our energy policies. Both sides are currently working on concluding an agreement for the provision of natural gas in the immediate future. The commercial terms however are a matter for the interested companies to decide.
Question: Is Greece ready to be a transit country for the transportation of Azeri gas to other European countries?
Answer: The Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) is a project of absolute importance to Greece and the other participating countries. So far we have completed the first phase of the strategically significant section connecting the natural gas systems of Turkey and Greece. We are already receiving natural gas from this source. We have now turned our attention to the second phase of the ITGI which is the Interconnection Greece-Italy. For both the on-shore and off-shore parts of this project, all the detailed technical studies are being prepared. Concerning the legislative framework for the transit quantities to Italy, we have taken the necessary measures in conformity with EU legislation.
Question: How do you access the investment climate in Azerbaijan and what economy spheres of our country are interested for Greece companies in terms of business development?
Answer: I understand that Azerbaijan is currently attracting great investment interest from countries worldwide. Greek enterprises could invest in that part of the world since Greek entrepreneurship has demonstrated great resourcefulness and extroversion. Many countries have, in fact, benefited greatly from borrowing the Greek know-how in fields such as tourism, shipping, construction, banking, telecommunications and so on.
I strongly believe that now that energy has paved the way and opened the door between our two countries, many other initiatives for closer cooperation and joint ventures can go through it, as well.
Question: What is Greece's current demand for oil, and what is the dynamics of the demand growth for this fuel in your country?
Answer: According to statistical data for the year 2007, domestic oil consumption was 18.892 million tones of petrol. As it is already known, oil demand is steadily increasing thus pushing international prices above ceiling. The fact that oil will soon be depleted forces countries and consumers to seek alternative energy sources. Natural gas, of course, is one alternative source of energy, which is certainly not a new concept for Europe while for Greece; it was only recently introduced in our national energy balance.
In 2005, bio-diesel was introduced in the Greek market. The Ministry of Development supports this concept and promotes its use via the legislative framework adopted in 2006 for 5% mixture in the diesel produced by Greek refineries.
Furthermore, Greece and the European Union as a whole strongly support the broader use of Renewable Energy Sources (RES). In fact, by the year 2020, the European goal is 20% of the EU average energy balance to derive from RES.
The correspondent can be contacted at: Capital@trend.az