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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with President Aliyev of Azerbaijan
21 June 2013
Good afternoon ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to welcome President Aliyev to Brussels. President Aliyev and I had a very open, constructive and friendly discussion today building on the fruitful exchanges and visits we have had over the last years. We met several times, including a visit I have paid to Baku.
Today, we focused on energy issues, but also reviewed the wider developments in Azerbaijan and the European Union.
Azerbaijan is a very important partner for us – we have achieved a reliable partnership in the energy field. We want to build on this, moving to a long-term association grounded in democracy and shared values, in particular human rights and fundamental freedoms. I stressed today my personal commitment to supporting Azerbaijan in this path.
A word on our strategic energy cooperation: We did of course discuss the way ahead on the Southern Gas Corridor in detail.
We are both extremely pleased with the progress achieved on the Southern Gas Corridor since our Joint Declaration of 2011. We have both worked hard for the realisation of this strategic project for both Azerbaijan and for Europe. I wish to thank President Aliyev for his strong and continued commitment. I remember well our discussions when we met in Baku and, in fact, Azerbaijan has been delivering all the commitments that were taken at that time. And I'm proud that this declaration that I signed together with President Aliyev was at the basis of all these developments.
President Aliyev confirmed to me that the Shah Deniz II Consortium will decide on the critical "European leg" of the Corridor next week, as foreseen, and choose between the two options, "Nabucco-West" and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
This is as such a commercial decision for the consortium. But I would like to stress also that both Nabucco West and TAP are of strategic importance for the diversification of our gas supplies for our single energy market. I am therefore confident that both routes could ultimately be built, once we scale up the Southern Gas Corridor beyond the currently available gas with further resources. This can be a win-win situation!
The most important message today is the following: the Southern Gas Corridor is not a theoretical project on the drawing board. It is about to be realized, to the benefit of all involved. It will bring initially 10 billion cubic meters to Europe by 2019, but we will not stop here. The Corridor could in the medium term cover more than 10% of our annual needs in Europe and thus contribute to our energy security, price stability, growth and jobs. This is our common vision as President Aliyev and I agreed in 2011. This is what we will keep working for, to enhance our mutual security of supply. We believe this is in the best interest of Europe and Azerbaijan.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I said earlier, we discussed broader issues as well. Azerbaijan is an important partner with whom we cooperate closely on a number of regional and global issues. We also looked ahead to Azerbaijan's chairmanship of the Council of Europe next year.
We also shared our views on key domestic issues for Azerbaijan. Presidential elections are high on the list. We expressed our hope that these can take place according to the highest standards, with the support of international observers including from OSCE-ODIHR.
Ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms stand high in our agenda. We have discussed these issues in an open manner and I had the opportunity to recall that stability and prosperity can only endure in the long term with the respect of rule of law, democratic institutions and of course a dynamic civil society.
We discussed the development of our relations within the context of our Eastern Partnership and I share the commitment of President Aliyev in terms of deepening our relationship also in that context.
We discussed economic issues as well, including Azerbaijan's development plans and progress towards WTO accession. We are committed to deepen our trade relations, also through the establishment of a bilateral deep and comprehensive free trade area for which WTO membership is crucial.
Finally we also discussed the regional situation. We know well that for countries in the region to realize their full potential they need to be secure and at peace with their neighbours. We call therefore for a fair resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with the agreed principles. The EU supports the international mediation efforts through the OSCE Minsk Group and stands ready to play its part for a lasting and peaceful settlement.
2013 is indeed a year of great opportunity for EU-Azerbaijan relations. I stand for broader and deeper relations with your nation, a country which we very much respect, with energy as an excellent starting point and with shared values at the core.
I thank you for your attention.