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In the News

Azerbaijan Can Boost Energy Security But Europe Should Aid Karabakh Solution

AZERNEWS

June 11, 2013

 
 By Gulgiz Dadashova

Azerbaijan can play a vital role in European energy security strategies in the long term, Energy Minister Natig Aliyev said.

Aliyev attended a conference in Vienna entitled The Geopolitics of Azerbaijan and European Energy Security that heard from Azerbaijani and EU politicians, diplomats and experts in international oil and gas.

Aliyev noted that energy security is one of the key elements of the world economy and politics and directly affects all areas of life, saying that Azerbaijan is a reliable energy producer in Europe and a partner offering routes for transportation of hydrocarbon reserves.

The minister said Azerbaijan has covered a road of significant economic and political development and has taken strides over the past 20 years.

The oil and gas industry has a rich tradition and a great history in Azerbaijan and the country plays an important role worldwide, including in the energy policy of Europe, he said.

Aliyev said as much as $60 billion has been invested in Azerbaijan's energy infrastructure since independence, meaning there's now as much as 91 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves available for European markets.

"We can produce a whole lot more," Aliyev added.

The conference participants said that Europe, which currently meets 50 percent of its energy demand through imports and will have to increase energy imports to 80 percent in the near future, at the same time is highly dependent on transportation of energy products.

Under such circumstances, Azerbaijan can play an irreplaceable role in the diversification of energy sources, but the international community in return should assist in resolving its long-standing conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani parliament member Elkhan Suleymanov warned that the occupation of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region by Armenia for the past 21 years threatens regional stability.

Noting that he considers wrong to equate the concepts of war and conflict, Suleymanov said that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is not about the conflict between the two parties, but the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and occupation of territory by military force.

Suleymanov called on the world community and international organizations to take a fair position in this issue. He noted with regret that the indifference of the international community severely affected people of the two countries, especially Azerbaijan, which has more than one million refugees and internally displaced persons.

Professor Gerhard Mangott of the University of Innsbruck said the ongoing aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh proves that the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute "cannot be considered a frozen conflict".

Speaking about the interests of the superpowers in the South Caucasus and Azerbaijan's role in European energy security, he said Azerbaijan is a state that is based on European values and interested in integration.

"Under these circumstances, proving that it pursues a strong and independent foreign policy, while it does not get any significant political support from the European Union, Azerbaijan insists on playing an important role in the energy security of Europe," he said.

Israeli Ambassador to Austria Aviv Shir-On said Israel has good relations with Azerbaijan, which is an Islamic country, and this experience can serve as a good example for other countries.

"We appreciate the efforts of Azerbaijan to establish trade and energy policies but also a foreign policy consisting of delicate balances vis-a-vis international and regional organizations, he said.

President of the Farefuturo Foundation Adolfo Urso noted the importance of a return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

Citing an increasing demand for energy in Italy and other European countries, Urso expressed confidence that Azerbaijan will make a positive and significant contribution to European energy security.

The Vienna conference was moderated by former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, who said nations have a habit of forgetting conflicts like Nagorno-Karabakh because "the newest conflict is the most interesting conflict".

He called on the international community to do more to help bring an end of Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijani territory, for humanitarian reasons as much as reasons of energy security.

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