President Aliyev: Azerbaijan enjoys political, economic stability for many years
CHRONICLE 25 November 2022 - 20:24
An international conference under the motto “Along the Middle Corridor: Geopolitics, Security and Economy” has been held at ADA University, Baku, on November 25.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the conference, Azertag reports.
In his opening remarks, Rector of ADA University Hafiz Pashayev said:
Distinguished participants of international conference. It is already the third time that Ada University and Center for Analysis of İnternational Relations are jointly organizing an international conference in which President Ilham Aliyev honors us with his participation. This conference has become an important platform for the discussion of regional developments, with a special focus on post-war peace building process and reconstruction. Messages from this room became valuable agenda points for global analysts and researchers, as well as for publications in world renowned journals. We thank President Aliyev for his valuable time, which he spends with us today. This time, we have decided to focus on the issue of Middle Corridor which is a highly relevant and timely topic of today's regional focus. Azerbaijan’s geo strategic location, has always attracted attention from the times of the ancient Silk Road to modern times, when national leader Heydar Aliyev has masterfully crafted the new energy map of the greater Eurasia and successfully built energy corridors. It was not easy at all. It's a crossroad both commercially and politically for all major issues facing the region. Azerbaijan has always resisted efforts by those who wish to dominate it, regardless of where the efforts come from. I want to bring to your attention that back in 2010 ADA university together with Central Asia Caucasus Institutes at the Johns Hopkins University has published a research study on how to make Azerbaijan and the Caspian region a transit hub of the continent. President Ilham Aliyev’s long term vision and tireless efforts to create a better synergy between Europe and Asia via Azerbaijan and the Caspian region have significantly contributed to this course. Azerbaijan’s 44-day Patriotic War and the liberation of the occupied lands have opened new opportunities for the regional transport corridors including Zangazur corridor and several other initiatives in this regard. We strongly believe that this discussion today and tomorrow will further enhance regional transport and connectivity agenda and bring more sustainable peace to the region. Please allow me to thank all international experts for their participation in these discussions. And now with great appreciation to President Aliyev for his valuable time, I turn the floor to his Excellency. Please Mr. President.
The head of state made a speech at the conference.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev
-Thank you very much. First of all, I would like to express gratitude to our guests, international experts for being with us and to address this important issues. Of course, special gratitude to ADA university for hosting this important event. As Mr. Pashayev already said, it’s for the third time in recent history we gather here. I think the discussions which we had previously and this time will contribute to better understanding about regional realities, plans of Azerbaijan, and also our interaction with the neighborhood. Today’s topic covers a particular issue of middle corridor but, of course, when I see how it is called, “geopolitics security and economy”, of course, their coverage will be much broader and this is natural. Because in order to implement such a large-scale project as middle corridor, the issues of security and economic capability, of course, must be addressed. Because without security and economic potential it will not be possible to achieve the goal of full commissioning of the middle corridor which will be beneficial to all the countries in the region. Of course one of the important elements for implementation of any large-scale project is the stability. Azerbaijan is a country which enjoys stability for many, many years, and this was one of the main factors of our economic development and the role which Azerbaijan plays now on international arena also generated by our internal politics. Because strong economy, political economic stability and predictability of the policy of our government, all these factors, along with building bridges and establishing closer relations with as many countries as possible led to today’s reality. Therefore, political stability, security, economy all these factors are very important. Along with that, of course, what every country which is part of the middle corridor have done internally, in other words, what was the level of accomplishment of their homework in order to build physical transportation and logistics infrastructure. Azerbaijani geography is very well known. We are a landlocked country. We don’t have a direct access to world oceans.
Therefore, whether it’s our energy project, or transportation project we needed to work very hard in order to achieve our target. At the same time, advantage of our geographical location is just we are situated between Europe and Asia, actually, in the middle between the two continents and this allows us to play an important role in connectivity issues. But, of course, physical availability of infrastructure was most important and we invested in that sector for many, many years. And now, when we look at our railroad connections and highway infrastructure, we see that everything in Azerbaijan is ready. Five years ago we inaugurated together with our partners Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad project and now when we see the growing volume of cargo crossing our country we started to invest in the expansion of the Georgian segment of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars. This project will cost us more than hundred million US dollars and we plan to accomplish it within a year and maybe in a year and a half. At the same time, other transportation projects like the North-South corridor will add synergy to the East-West corridor. So, Azerbaijan actually is the participant of both corridors and most of the transportation and logistics infrastructure with respect to these corridors in Azerbaijan is ready. What we are doing now, we are just modernizing, we are building new railway lines in order to increase the speed of the trains and cargo trains. At the same time, we are investing in transportation infrastructure particularly, air cargo transportation infrastructure. Our trade sea port which is a relatively new element of transportation connectivity projects is going to be expanded. From today’s 15 million tons up to 25 million tons because of the necessity, because of the new geopolitical situation in the world and necessity to transport more cargo through Azerbaijan. And also we are in a process of completion of our airports projects. After Lachin airport is ready, which will be the third airport on the liberated territories, the number of international airports in Azerbaijan will be equal to nine. Of course, this is not only for passenger transportation, but also a cargo transportation. So we expect rapid growth of cargo transportation through Azerbaijan and we are ready for that. If we add our potential with respect to the shipping infrastructure and the availability of the brand new shipyard in Baku, we will see that we will definitely achieve what we planned. And in order to transport additional cargos from eastern shores of the Caspian through Azerbaijan, of course, we will need to have new tankers and ferry boats and cargo boats. So, probably now I will conclude this introduction to leave more time for our discussions. Once again, welcome. I know that you will be visiting one of the liberated cities, Aghdam, and also I am grateful for that. You will see with your own eyes the results of 30 years Armenian occupation. Thank you.
President Ilham Aliyev then responded to questions from the conference participants.
Former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Board Member of the Jamestown Foundation, Matthew Bryza: Hi Mr. President, Matthew Bryza from the United States. In terms of the East-West corridor, Middle Corridor and specifically an energy, how are things going in terms of Turkmenistan, its gas getting incorporated maybe via Iran through swaps and also across Turkiye where there are some intense discussions of maybe private companies getting involved in the gas transit across Turkiye. Thank you.
President Ilham Aliyev: Yes we are, of course, addressing this issue of looking at the very broad prospects of cooperation. I think these transportation routes which already are functioning will allow all the countries of the Caspian region to be more integrated. Our cooperation with Turkmenstan has a very good history, and today we provide important transit for cargos from Turkmenistan, and even in our Trade Sea Port in Alat we have allocated a special place for particular cargos from Turkmenistan. We started swap operations with respect to Turkmen gas. And the reason is that we are now facing a growth in our industry, and the big need for additional volumes of gas. Industry is growing, population is growing. We are now in the process of active reconstruction of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur. Therefore, the demand for the natural gas definitely will grow. What is necessary to be done, of course, we will continue our cooperation with foreign oil companies which plan to increase gas production from existing fields and also the new fields which will be operational starting from next year, particularly, huge gas condensate Absheron field will start production next year and the first phase of production will be 1.5 billion cubic meters. Of course, there is a potential to increase several times the production. At the same time, we need to expand the existing pipeline system which also is brand new. We just completed less than two years ago the final segment of the Southern Gas Corridor Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) but already today, we see the demand to expand the capacity twice from ten to twenty bcm. That will need, of course, a consolidated position and investments of all shareholders. Azerbaijan has only twenty percent share in TAP. Therefore, we hope with partners we will get to that point, and also expansion of TANAP from 16 to 32 billion cubic meters. Because capacity of TANAP is almost fully engaged. So, all that will need, of course, additional investments. Of course for that we will need to have the arrangements of transit with our Turkish colleagues. Without that it will not be possible to satisfy the needs of European consumers and also growing needs of Turkish consumers. There is an opportunity now without losing time to engage Trans-Balkan pipeline, especially, after interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria was inaugurated last month, and we are ready. The capacity of that pipeline is 3 bcm. So, we are ready to supply necessary volumes maybe within one month. But for that we need a transit arrangement with Turkiye, unfortunately, we did not get to that point yet. Negotiations continue. They last more time than we anticipated but hopefully we will come to that agreement. Because if it is not reached due to some reasons then all our plans to supply additional gas to Turkiye and to Europe will be under threat. You know that this July we signed a MoU with the European Commission to increase twice the supply. There is a potential, because of first, as I said, new gas fields which we plan to commission in the coming years, I mentioned Absheron, I can mention Umid-Babak, I can mention Asiman, Shafag and many others. Second, serious reforms in our energy company SOCAR-new management, corporate management. Transparency and efficiency will save us additional volumes of gas. And also our projects which already started with international investors with respect to renewables. Two projects are already in the pipeline. 470 megawatt of wind and solar energy will be available probably by the end of next year. Plus, 230 solar megawatt plant in Jabrayil will be added to that. So, that will save us additional gas. In other words, we will be able to implement fully the MoU with the European Commission which we signed in July, but for that we need to finalize our arrangements with our Turkish friends and I hope that it will be the case sooner than later.
The participants of this important event included leaders and representatives of leading think tanks of USA, Belgium, Bulgaria, Great Britain, France, Israel, Switzerland, Italy, Georgia, Canada, Egypt, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia and Turkiye.
The conference featured discussions on security aspects of the Middle Corridor, and economic opportunities of the region. In this regard, particularly, the participants exchanged views on the importance of the Zangazur corridor, the new transport opportunities that the East-West corridor will create, and the expansion and diversification of international cargo transportation.
As a result of the policy pursued by President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has gained great authority in the world and is already known as a country that has initiated and organized a number of prestigious international events discussing the most important topics. Special importance in the international events held since the Patriotic War is attached to the work done in the direction of revitalizing Azerbaijani territories liberated from occupation and their being transformed into an important component of international transport corridors. One of the most remarkable points is that the expansion of the scope of these conferences and forums, as well as the increase in the number of their participants, are evidence of the growing international interest in these events. This is also a clear indication of the international community's attention and growing interest in the consistent and progressive policy being implemented by the President of Azerbaijan in the direction of the transforming the South Caucasus into a region of peace and cooperation after Azerbaijan’s victory in the Patriotic War under the leadership of the President and Victorious Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev.
Along with other countries, the work done in this direction is carefully monitored by leading think tanks, well-known experts and analysts. This is evidenced by the high level of participation in the forums and conferences held, along with Baku, in the territories liberated from occupation in the current year alone. In particular, international conferences “New Vision for South Caucasus: Post-Conflict Development and Cooperation” on 10-13 April, and “South Caucasus: Development and Cooperation” on 29 October, both held at ADA University, as well as the National Urban Forum held in Aghdam on October 5-6 and other events aroused great interest.
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