Romanian FM: Azerbaijan plays important role in increasing European energy security - INTERVIEW

'Romania is confident that this cooperation will strengthen in the coming years'

Baku. 30 January. REPORT.AZ/ Minister of foreign affairs of Romania Bogdan Aurescu gave interview to Report News Agency.

- Mr. Minister Aurescu, how do you evaluate the current level of bilateral ties between Romania and Azerbaijan? What need to be done in order to increase the level of these ties?

- The political relations between Romania and the Republic of Azerbaijan, based on the Strategic Partnership established at top level in 2009, are excellent. Our countries are successfully implementing the measures included in the Action Plan under the Strategic Partnership, signed in 2011. Bilateral political dialogue, economic cooperation and cultural links are developing dynamically. According to Azerbaijani statistical data, Romanian exports rose for three years in a row to reach 55.85 million U.S. Dollars in 2014 – a peak in the history of the trade relations between our countries since Azerbaijan became an independent state. Romania is interested in deepening the economic cooperation with Azerbaijan through implementation of substantial projectsin order to correspond to the level of political relations. Last year the ferry boat line linking the Romanian Black Sea port Constanța and Georgian port of Batumi has been re-opened. The ferry boat line Constanța -Batumi can help building a Freight Transport Corridor Black Sea-Caspian Sea, a project of strategic value. This corridor will open new opportunities for our cooperation and more ample trade opportunities for goods from Central Asia and Caucasus to be brought on the European market, in its very heart. A wide toolbox can be maximized to this end - using ferry boats that ship goods on the Caspian Sea up till the Azerbaijani port of Alat alongside the railway infrastructure of Azerbaijan and Georgia and further on the ferry-boat line Batumi-Constanța and the transport potential of Danube river.

- After the "Nabucco" failed to be implemented, such projects like TANAP and AGRI were named as potential alternatives for transportation of energy resources from Azerbaijan to Europe. How do you see the role of Azerbaijan in supporting European energy security?

Azerbaijan plays an important role in increasing European energy security. Romania has been a consistent advocate and fully supports the development of the gas interconnector Azerbaijan – Georgia – Romania – Hungary (AGRI), which can provide the shortest route between the gas fields in the Caspian Sea and the European market. Once we will have an assessment of the AGRI Project Feasibility Study, during the first part of this year, we expect further steps to be taken by the Board of Directors of AGRI LNG Company, to advance with the project.

- Recently, Romanian embassy in Azerbaijan was once again appointed as contact point of NATO in Azerbaijan. What's your comment on this issue and how Romania can assist in bringing Azerbaijani Armed Forces in compliance with NATO standards?

The renewal of the NATO CPE mandate for Romania in the Republic of Azerbaijan for two more years represents a recognition of the successful completion of its responsibilities during the previous mandates. We see it also as an indicator of trust and of the excellent level of our bilateral relations. Assuming the fourth CPE mandate is part of our desire to contribute to the development of NATO relations with Azerbaijan, as a NATO partner country.

One field in which Romania can assist partner countries is sharing its experience of Euro-Atlantic integration, presenting best practices and providing expertise on the implementation of reforms in the security and defense sectors in accordance to NATO standards. In our assessment, the relationship between NATO and Azerbaijan has strategic value and Romania is confident that this cooperation will strengthen in the coming years.

- What positive outcome did membership in EU brought to Romania and how your country can play role as a bridge between EU and Azerbaijan?

Romania’s EU membership brought considerable dividends to both parties. The preparatory process has led to substantial progress in implementing the reforms agenda. And even now theacquis and the review of European Institutions can facilitate an improved track record in areas of reform where additional steps are required. Romania has been and remains a strong advocate of development and deepening of Azerbaijan’s relations with the European Union. EU-Azerbaijan cooperation provides ample opportunities for developing joints projects. Romania supports the initiative of establishing a Strategic Partnership between EU and Azerbaijan based on the recognition of the particular and solid contribution that your country can potentially bring to the European security energy.

- How can Romania play an active role in solution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

Romania has a principled approach towards the settlement of all protracted conflicts in the region. Romania will continue to support efforts towards their peaceful and negotiated settlement based on the respect of the norms and principles of international law, including those of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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