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Southern Gas Corridor will contribute to ensuring both Azerbaijan`s economic development and European energy security

Interview with  Fuad Muradov Co-chair of Euronest PA Energy Committee, deputy of the Millli Majlis

Q: A ground-braking ceremony has been held for the Southern Gas Corridor a couple of days ago. How will this event affect Azerbaijan`s international image?

A: This is a historic and remarkable event. Azerbaijan became an important contributor to ensuring Europe`s energy security back in 1994 when the Contract of the Century was signed. In 1994, Azerbaijan embarked on a new policy, and from that time to the present day Azerbaijan has made huge strides in the oil and gas sector. Thus, beginning the implementation of the oil strategy of Azerbaijan, the "Contract of the Century" opened the way for the full development of the country in all fields. The image of a reliable partner enabled the country to initiate new large regional projects in a short period of time, the most important of which were the development of the Shah Deniz gas field and the construction of the Baku-Supsa, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipelines and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Thus, Azerbaijan consistently turned from an oil and gas producing state into one of the main alternative sources of gas supplies to Europe. Today, Azerbaijan is one of the main players on the energy map of Europe. "Azerbaijan has never been so close to the European Union. Its economy is closely integrated with the European markets, our ties are wider, and contacts are active. The European Union supports all the initiatives of Azerbaijan related to reform and modernization and wants a more profound relationship in various fields," President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso noted in his video shown at the ceremony. "Three years ago, in January 2011, I and President Ilham Aliyev signed a Joint Declaration relating to the Southern Gas Corridor in Baku. However, this project is not just a pipeline, but also an important strategic energy corridor of the 21st century. It is a geo-strategic project in every sense of the word."

Q: What benefits will this project bring to Europe? What role will Azerbaijan`s gas play in ensuring Europe`s energy security amid different processes?

A: Azerbaijan maintains cooperation with the European Union both in bilateral and multilateral formats. Azerbaijan and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic energy cooperation 2011, which also facilitated the development of Azerbaijan's energy strategy and diversification, and gas supplies to Europe.

The Southern Gas Corridor is a very important project that will change the region’s and Europe’s energy map. This is important for the future of the EU, for its security, because the continent without option will not have safe future. Azerbaijan’s gas supplies to Europe will open the "Southern Gas Corridor", which will allow Europe to diversify its sources of hydrocarbon supplies and boost energy security, and on the other hand give Azerbaijan a new market - Europe.

However, Azerbaijan`s success irritates its enemies and some political groups. They envy Azerbaijan`s socio-economic development, and its growing international prestige. They want to prevent Azerbaijan`s further development But their efforts will be in vain.

Q: Can these noble initiatives of Azerbaijan prompt Europe to take a more principled approach to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem?

A: Azerbaijan`s growing role in ensuring the energy security of Europe has considerably increased the international interest in our country. I think that under this cooperation European countries should pay more serious attention to finding a solution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The reason is that these countries can seriously affect the settlement process. As we know Armenia continues to disregard all commitments in the peace negotiations. The leadership of Armenia wants to keep the status-quo so they remain stuck to the stalling tactics.  

Azerbaijan continues numerous campaigns to increase the international community`s awareness of Armenia`s aggression against the Azerbaijani people. We raised the issue at all international organizations. So Euronest Parliamentary Assembly is a good platform for us to deliver our truths to the international community. European countries have a big role to play in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is one of the major conditions for the establishment of peace in the region.