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​TAP project- Mutual interests of the European Union and Azerbaijan - COMMENT

By its role that Azerbaijan plays in transportation of natural gas to Europe, it can join Asia to the continent by the energy pipelines

Baku. 18 May. REPORT.AZ/ On May 17, Thessaloniki played host to the groundbreaking ceremony of the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline (TAP).

Report informs, during the event, European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič has met with the First Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Yagub Eyyubov, Azerbaijani Energy Minister Natig Aliyev, President of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) Rovnag Abdullayev, SOCAR Vice-President on Investments and Marketing Elshad Nasirov

Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev has assessed the project on days of Europe in Baku: Azerbaijan will continue to contribute to the energy security of Europe. We witness results of a memorandum on energy cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan in 2006."

Azerbaijan is one of the leading countries in Europe in provision of multi-faceted projects. It also helped get rid of the old continent's energy dependence and this process is continuing. Official Baku, thus, ensures the EU's strategic interests, avoids political pressures, as well as contributes to solution of the socio-economic problems.

On his statement to Report Zafar Valiyev, an expert on energy issues said that the TAP project was a project for Europe-wi de geopolitical importance. He said that implementation of this project, i.e within the second phase of "Shah Deniz" gas condensate field of the gas flow to Europe's energy map, will lead to very serious changes: "The TAP project will ensure Europe's energy security, and at the same time give big dividends to those countries which are included in the south-eastern part of the continent".

The expert noted that the share of gas of Russian pipeline will be reduced in next 5 years in the Europe's portfolio. According to him, after suffering a fiasco of Russia's "The South Stream", "The Turkish Stream", then the "North Stream-2" in ensuring energy security of Europe, TAP will be of exceptional importance in the south-east: The majority of Eastern European countries, such as Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and other countries are dependent on the Russian gas. Entering of the Azerbaijani gas to the European energy market means that in the future, Europe's dependence on the Russian gas will reduce. The total annual gas demand of Europe's south-eastern part is 60-65 billion cubic meters. After Azerbaijan's full-scale work on the project, a certain part of the deficit will be eliminated as well. After full-scale implementation of the project, we will witness various connecting gas pipelines and interconnectors throughout the project".

Valiyev also stressed the possibility of including Turkmen and Iranian gas to the "Southern Gas Corridor" project: "This project will create favorable conditions for entering of the Iranian and Turkmen gas to the European gas markets as well. Turkmenistan is currently pursuing a policy of diversification of its export capabilities. Azerbaijani state's export forces allow those countries of Central Asia which are rich with hydrocarbon to achieve delivery of their resources to Europe via Azerbaijan's export forces. This experience is available now. For the past several years, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan put the crude oil, which was extracted from their fields, to the European markets through the export pipeline of Azerbaijan. So I am not suspicious on using the export forces of Azerbaijan in transporting the Turkmen gas in the future. Using of Azerbaijan's export potential will be inevitable for both Turkmenistan and Iran in the future as well", - the expert said.

He also emphasized that the project was credible from both the commercial aspect of the project, as well as from its the geopolitical side. The expert noted that the pipeline would form a security zone. "In the future it will gain political dividends to Azerbaijan, and also at the light of oil production falling it will solve the economic opportunities by the Southern Gas Corridor's income."

In addition to ensuring economic interests in realization of this project, paying political aspirations is also one more main factor.

A day before the groundbreaking ceremony, during his visit to Vienna on the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

The meeting expressed satisfaction with the current state of cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan and then the participants exchanged views on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Participation of Maroš Šefčovičin the groundbreaking ceremony and the meeting of the president with Mrs. Federica Mogherini may be considered as a symbol of the European Union's interest in our country. Official Baku is actively involved in ensuring Europe's energy security. But the other party still has not taken practical steps to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Undoubtedly, official Baku does not require anything not correct and without basis from Europe by expanding its economic cooperation. Azerbaijan requires support for restoring and ensuring the territorial integrity of the country from all parties it cooperates with and taking real steps to support this fair position.

Thus, by its role that Azerbaijan plays in transportation of natural gas to Europe, it can join Asia to the continent by the energy pipelines.

We would like to draw attention to one issue. On May 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to Greece. According to the report, during the visit, the issue of transporting Russian natural gas through Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline to the member states of the European Union is also expected to be discussed.

As is known, due to Russia's annexation of the Crimea, the European Union has imposed sanctions. After the groundbreaking ceremony of TAP, Vladimir Putin's visit to Greece has also been mentioned in other reports. At least if to consider the current state of Greece, it may be regarded as a 'weak point' of the European Union.

In all cases, TAP's perspective is hoped to ensure the mutual interests of the European Union and Azerbaijan as well.

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