President Ilham Aliyev: “Azerbaijan has never faced with pressure from Russia concerning Nabucco Project”“Azerbaijan’s economy has not strongly been damaged by the global crisis. As Azerbaijan has integrated into the world economy, we have certain concerns over the export potential particularly.
The export potential in the non-oil sector slightly reduced over the past month. But generally the situation of financial issues and economic development in our country is good”, said President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in an interview with CNBC, APA reports quoting AzerTaj news agency.
Azerbaijan’s economic growth increased for 2.6 times over the past five months and now it is difficult to keep the rate of the previous growth, said the President. “This figure was 11 percent last year, and previous one was 25 percent. It is impossible to keep this level for a long time, but there is a significant economic growth. It is important to diversify the economy and to be more independent on the oil price and energy factor. It was achieved as a result of policy provided in the fields of reforms, diversification and support of private ownership. We achieved to reduce dependence on the energy factor”.
The President underlined the important energy projects Azerbaijan carried out for more than ten years and emphasized that the pipeline exported Caspian oil to the world market was playing significant role in the international energy security.
“We have huge energy resources. The gas resources will be enough for at least a hundred years. We have a modern transport infrastructure and we have already diversified the supply routes. The diversification is important not only for the consumers, but for the suppliers as well. Problem of the consumers was on the focus during the current crisis, but as a supplier country Azerbaijan also needs secure and reliable transport routes. We are achieving these goals with the construction of pipelines in the different directions. Today the question is about the additional volume for the energy security of the Europe. Azerbaijan has such opportunities. We are participating in the discussions on the Turkish-Greek-Italian, Nabucco, Trans-Adriatic pipeline projects. The work done in our country so far shows that Azerbaijan is a reliable partner. The project we carry out was not shadowed by the crisis”.
Touching upon the Nabucco Project, the Head of State said Azerbaijan was interested in the new projects and the transportation capacity of the existed pipelines did not meet the export potential of the country’s energy resources. “We may produce gas twice as much than current production. This year Azerbaijan will produce more than 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Our export is still restricted to the regional market. Nabucco and other such projects create opportunity for diversification and long-term reliable supply mechanisms. But, of course, the important points of Nabucco Project, first of all, the funding issue should be clarified. The second important issue is that Europe should have an integrated energy policy. Nabucco unites not all European Union, but several Central European countries. Other important issue is that how important role Europe can play in the realization of Nabucco Project. There are hopeful points, but we need any progress on this issue. Third, it is important for Azerbaijan to clarify the transit issues. We have to reach transit deals with the transit countries to have a direct access to the European market. All these important issues are connected with each other and we will plan the production in accordance with their realization. We can’t produce natural gas without market. There should be market and deals at first to begin the production. There are at least 2 trillion cubic meters of confirmed gas resources in Azerbaijan”.
The President of Azerbaijan denied reports on Russia’s pressure on Azerbaijan concerning the Nabucco Project. “There was no pressure from Russia. We have no energy problems with Russia”.
Speaking about the prospect of the relations with Barack Obama’s administration, the head of state expressed his confidence in the further development of the relations.
“Much time has passed since the establishment of Azerbaijan-US relations. Energy policy plays an important role in our partnership. Our relations coincide with the national interests of both countries. We hope that this positive tendency will also continue with the new administration,” he said.
President also spoke about the policy for modernization of Azerbaijan’s economy.
“The main points of our strategy are: diversification and modernization, reduction of energy dependence of economy and the country’s sustainable development. In this respect the priorities are modern technologies, information and communication technologies, education, employment, reduction of poverty, health and other spheres. All these cover social sector of our life. We have achieved noticeable progress in all these spheres, including information and communication technologies. As I have noted information and communication technologies are the main priority of our economy. We aim to establish a country with strong economy, financial opportunities, and mighty intellectual potential. Oil revenues make human capital investment available. Nowadays information and communication technology is one of the most prospective spheres of economy in the world. It is not only economy, but also knowledge, education, general development and modernization. We have established very good relations with the leading ICT companies of the world and I hope it will continue. We are about to launch a satellite, and establish space industry in Azerbaijan. We have great plans and I hope that we will achieve our goals. We attach great importance to the information and communication technologies. Now we plan to create conditions for the ICT companies to choose Azerbaijan the regional center. Wish is not enough to be a regional center, joint efforts are needed: first, involvement of the state, initiatives of the state and state program on information and communication technologies, secondly, liberalization of economy, favorable investment environment. And of course, to become a regional center efficiently using our geographical position, like we did in the fields of transport and energy. We are constructing pipelines, highways, Silk Road, East-West and North-South corridors. These are being realized due to our favorable geographical position and concrete programs. The activities we plan in information and communication technologies sector will lead Azerbaijan to the new stage of development. As you know, the future belongs to technological development, not to oil and gas. Oil and gas resources will be depleted sooner or later, knowledge and technology will always dominate in the development. The countries making investments in information and communication technologies and having advanced technological opportunities are the leading countries in the world,” he said.
President Aliyev said the state program for ICT covered technoparks and regional innovations and noted that Azerbaijan was ready for initial investment.
“Of course, we would also be pleased with foreign and local investments. But in order to give impetus to these activities, we should make all preparations, establish infrastructure and ensure investment. We should be attractive for the development of information and communication technologies, like we attract energy projects,” the president said. /APA/