Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels today to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest.
«Azerbaijan is an important partner for the European Union. We have reached a level of reliable partnership in the energy sector. Based on these achievements, we intend to move forward to the signing of the Association Agreement, based on respect for democratic principles and fundamental human freedoms,» Barroso said after the meeting.
“The meeting discussed in detail the issues related to implementation of Southern Gas Corridor project,” Barroso said, welcoming the progress made on implementation of the project since signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Azerbaijan in 2011.
“Both Azerbaijan and European Union have done a great work in this field,” he said thanking Azerbaijani President for leadership in this process.
«President Aliyev assured me that Shah Deniz consortium will next week decide on a choice of route for transporting Caspian gas to Europe,” Barroso noted. “The choice should be made between the pipeline projects Nabucco and TAP.”
Both routes are of strategic importance in terms of diversification of gas exports to the European gas market, he added.
Southern Gas Corridor, which will transport up to 10bn cubic meters of gas by 2019, is beneficial for all sides involved, he noted.
«In the medium term, the corridor will provide more than 10% of the annual needs of Europe’s gas, thereby contributing to our energy security, price stability and economic growth,» he said.
Head of the European Commission stressed that peace and security with neighbors is a key condition for the development and prosperity in the South Caucasus region.
«We call for a just solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with international standards,» he said, assuring that EU continues to support mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and is ready to take part in securing a lasting peaceful solution.
Barroso said that the meeting with Ilham Aliyev touched upon aspects of economic cooperation with Azerbaijan, including the negotiations on accession to the World Trade Organization.
«We are committed to expansion of economic and trade relations with Azerbaijan, in particular through establishment of a comprehensive bilateral free trade space as a key condition for WTO membership,» he said.
Discussing the issue of respect and protection of human rights in Azerbaijan with President Aliyev, Barroso said that the rule of law, strong democratic institutions and an active civil society in the long term will only contribute to the stability and prosperity of the country.
Referring to the upcoming October presidential elections in Azerbaijan, the head of the European Commission noted that the EU hopes that these elections will be held in accordance with international standards, in the presence of observers from the OSCE / ODIHR.
In the context of development of relations in the framework of the Eastern Partnership, Barroso shared Ilham Aliyev’s intention to deepen Azerbaijan-Europe relations in this format.