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Brussels, 7 November 2008

Commissioner Piebalgs underlines in Baku the strategic role of Azerbaijan for the realisation of the Southern Gas Corridor

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs met today in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, with the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, as well as Minister of Energy and Industry Natig Aliyev, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov. During his meetings, the Commissioner underlined that Azerbaijan is a strategic partner of the EU and reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to close and strengthened EU-Azerbaijani relations and to enhancing its energy partnership. Ahead of the soon to be adopted second Strategic Energy Review, Commissioner Piebalgs discussed the establishment of a Southern Gas Corridor to bring energy resources to Europe as one of the EU's highest energy security priorities.

"Recent events in the Caucasus have shown once again that this is a critical time for energy issues in the region and that EU-Azerbaijan energy cooperation should be strengthened now more than ever", said Commissioner Piebalgs.

Against this background, and ahead of the adoption of the Strategic Energy Review, Commissioner Piebalgs’ underlined that Azerbaijan is an important strategic partner of the EU and energy is a core area of our relations. He pointed to the concrete success achieved with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline and the development of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline as the inspiration for meeting today’s challenges.

It was noted during the meetings that the EU would step up its efforts to establish a Southern Gas Corridor which will open up new possibilities for gas exports from the Caspian region to Europe. The need for increased activities in support of exploration and development of Caspian resources were also highlighted, as well as the fact that the EU and Azerbaijan share a common energy agenda.

The EU has strengthened its energy ties with Azerbaijan via a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Energy. Moreover, with the adoption of the European Neighbourhood Action Plan, EU-Azerbaijan cooperation goes beyond existing relationships to offer a deeper political relationship and economic integration. The EU will pursue its efforts towards increased energy security and diversification, along with full support to stability and progress in the region as a whole.

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