Johannes Hahn: Southern Gas Corridor is a strategic project for EU - INTERVIEW
Q. Negotiations on the new agreement are taking place between Azerbaijan and the EU. What do you think of the current level of the negotiations? Political discussions have already taken place. Are there any shared opinions or disagreements in this respect? When do you think these negotiations will be concluded?
A. Negotiations have been very constructive so far and allowed progress in many areas, though we should not underestimate the work that remains to be done. We are aiming at a swift conclusion but a good result is more important than a rapid one. For us it is important that we cover all the key areas of our cooperation, from economic and security matters to provisions on the respect of human rights, good governance and the rule of law, ensuring the agreement takes account of the shared objectives and challenges the EU and Azerbaijan face today.
Q. The Eastern Partnership summit is to take place in Brussels in November. How are preparations for this summit going so far? What are the main priorities of the summit? Are there going to be discussions or decisions in respect of Azerbaijan? Do you think a new agreement will be signed?
A. The preparations of the Eastern Partnership summit are advancing very well and we expect to agree on very concrete measures for the coming years to advance on economic development, market opportunities, good governance, connectivity, energy efficiency, mobility and people to people contact. These are our common objectives agreed in Riga two years ago. We are also working with Azerbaijan on Partnership Priorities which cover a broad range of cooperation areas; on the new agreement, if we progress swiftly and without compromising on the ambitious content, we may have the negotiations finalized by the time of the summit.
Q. Azerbaijan initiated the Southern Gas Corridor project and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railways projects, which is important for the East-West initiative. How important are these energy and transportation projects for Europe? And what have they got to offer Europe?
A. The Southern Gas Corridor is a strategic project for the EU as it will allow us to improve our energy security by diversifying our sources of supply. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project's importance will very much depend on Azerbaijan's success in developing its position as a transport hub between East and West, which will depend on many factors, in this vein one can underline importance of WTO membership for the predictability and the international compatibility of the transport systems and regulations with the European ones and the ability of the business climate to attract foreign investors. Azerbaijan's efforts in fighting against corruption will certainly make a positive contribution towards an attractive business climate, as the respect for the rule of law is one of the determining factors in it.
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