Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding

25 April 2023, 13:21
Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding

Remarks by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear President Radev.

Dear ministers, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to President Radev for this initiative, which is a very important step in the further diversification of energy resources and also energy security, and also a very timely step. Six months ago, I visited Bulgaria on an official visit. So, I'm back in six months. At that time, we participated in the ceremony of the inauguration of the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector project. The project, which made it possible to expand the European geography of Azerbaijan’s natural gas supplies, and the project, which helps already to strengthen European energy security. One month ago, President Radev was our guest in Azerbaijan. So, this really demonstrates the level of cooperation between our countries. It demonstrates the dynamism of our political dialogue and also demonstrates that Bulgaria and Azerbaijan are not only strategic partners but also two friends.

The MoU signed today, when implemented, will definitely strengthen energy security in Europe and allow Azerbaijan to export more gas to many more European countries. As it was already said today by Madame Kadri Simson, Energy Commissioner, and other officials from the European Commission and other friends, Azerbaijan is a reliable partner of Europe, I would say, not only in the area of energy but also in many other areas. Also, I would like to inform you that with nine EU member states, Azerbaijan signed and adopted agreements or declarations on strategic partnership. So that means that one-third of the member states of the EU are strategic partners of Azerbaijan, and this partnership has a very important future.

I'm sure that today's important ceremony will be another step in strengthening our cooperation. Last July, Azerbaijan and the European Commission signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Partnership in the Field of Energy” based on which we plan to double our gas supply to the European Union market by 2027. In 2021, we delivered 8 billion cubic meters to Europe. And this year, our target is 12. So, that will be almost half of our total export, which we plan for this year at the level of 24.5 billion cubic meters. And of course, our production and export will grow, because we will increase production from existing gas fields and also in the coming years, we expect production of natural gas with new fields. Today, Azerbaijani gas is exported to Georgia, Türkiye, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, and, starting from this year, Romania. By the end of this year, if all necessary interconnectors are in place, we plan to start gas supplies to Hungary and Slovakia.

We are in the process of negotiations with Albania to build a local gas distribution system because the Southern Gas Corridor crosses Albania’s territory. As a member of the “Solidarity Ring”, I am sure Slovakia will soon become our partner in energy as well. We will increase the geography of our gas supplies from 6 to at least 10 countries. I say at least, because I think this is not the end of the story. We plan to expand furthermore our presence in the European gas market. I'd like to underline the special role of the President of Bulgaria, Mr. Radev, in the initiative to create this solid team of partners. The “Solidarity Ring,” I'm sure, will play an important role in the implementation of our joint ambitious plans.

I also would like to inform you that natural gas is not the only energy product that Azerbaijan exports to Europe. We have been a reliable partner and an important crude oil supplier for more than 20 years. Petrochemicals and electricity are also part of our exports. I also would like to express my gratitude to the Minister of Slovakia for remembering the story of our energy development. It's absolutely true that Azerbaijan, less than three years after the restoration of its independence, signed the contract in 1994, which was named later a “Contract of the 20th Century”, and invited for the first time, foreign oil companies to work, produce and export oil in the Caspian Sea. So, today we are implementing the project of the 21st century, and the project which grows.

Therefore, as a reliable partner in energy, Azerbaijan definitely is ready to continue its journey and achieve all its targets. Also, I would like to inform you that after the successful completion of three major energy infrastructure projects - two oil pipelines, one from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean and the other from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, as well as the Southern Gas Corridor with the length of 3,500 kilometers - so after all that, we are now working to transform Azerbaijan into a source of production and export of renewable energy. Leading international companies in the field of renewable energy signed contracts and MoUs with Azerbaijan to produce more than 25 gigawatts of renewable energy in Azerbaijan. Construction of the first wind and solar power plants has started. The estimated potential of renewables in Azerbaijan is about 200 gigawatts, including 157 gigawatts in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. Our main export destination for green energy, of course, is Europe.

So, we are continuing our active energy diplomacy and the implementation of mega projects starting from oil, now gas, then green hydrogen - and all that will connect us with the solid transmission links and will create an absolutely new situation. So, we are actually redrawing the energy map of Eurasia.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate all of us on the signing of the MoU and hope to see the soonest implementation of our joint plans. Thank you.