Ilham Aliyev attended the “Eurasia: The Next Frontier?” session of the World Economic Forum in Davos

23 january 2014, 11:00

The “Eurasia: The Next Frontier?” session has been held within the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The session was attended by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

Noting that the main objective of this session is to obtain new information about the region, the facilitator said that most of the meeting participants had taken part in the World Economic Forum on "The Strategic Dialogue on the Future of the South Caucasus and Central Asia" held in Baku in April of last year. He described the South Caucasus as a region causing interest and said he wanted to find out the thoughts of the President of Azerbaijan on this issue.

Addressing the session, President Ilham Aliyev said:

- As for Azerbaijan, we are doing a lot to strengthen the regional cooperation. As you know, Azerbaijan initiated the energy projects in the region, and this has contributed to greater regional cooperation. First of all, I want to note the pipeline. This project has connected Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey as regional partners. After completion of the project, Central Asian states began to use its transit opportunities.

Here we can see that all of the states involved are benefiting from the project. They are acquiring access to new markets and new export routes. In fact, after the restoration of the independence of the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asian, the energy factor was important in terms of regional cooperation. We have succeeded in further speeding up this work and are currently working on the transport infrastructure.

Of course, we are also stepping up economic cooperation between countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia.

These countries are registering major growth in the gross domestic product. This figure exceeds the world average and the potential for growth is also immense. I believe that there is political will to strengthen the cooperation between the countries which 22 years ago were regarded as members of a large family called the Soviet Union. Today these countries are independent, and each state has determined the path of its both political and economic development and is implementing social programs on the basis of its economic potential. But regional cooperation also provides additional opportunities and stimulates the creation of a more favorable business and investment environment.

We are closely following the developments in our region and in Central Asia. The traditional friendly relations between our nations serve the establishment of a regional cooperation format. As for Azerbaijan, we will continue to work actively on these issues and will take all necessary measures to identify new areas of cooperation in the future.

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Then, President Ilham Aliyev answered a question.

My question is to the President of Azerbaijan: If we consider that this cooperation contributes to the development of new initiatives and the work already under way, what priorities have you identified for Azerbaijan?

President Ilham Aliyev: At the moment the main priority is the realization of ambitious energy projects. I mean the "Shah Deniz-2" project which we started implementing last month. According to the project, two pipelines will be built – one in Turkey and the other from the Turkish-Greek border in the direction of Italy. One is called Trans-Anatolian and the other Trans-Adriatic pipeline. These two projects envisage the transportation of natural gas from giant fields, and it will become the largest infrastructure project in Europe.

Thus, one of the biggest challenges facing us in terms of regional cooperation is to complete this project in a very short time, i.e. within five years. Two South Caucasus countries, Georgia and Azerbaijan, are working hard in this direction. In the future, Central Asian states will also be able to connect to the infrastructure built because it means more opportunities for the diversification of energy supplies.

Another important project is a project of the railway which will connect Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. This is a project which will connect Europe and Asia and is considered a new Silk Road. The construction work is under way. I do hope that the railway will be put into operation in 2015. So it means both transport and energy communication and, at the same time, mutual investment. In particular, countries possessing additional material resources are seeking new investment opportunities, and I think that Azerbaijan, Georgia and Central Asia are a favorable place in terms of investment today because they have emerging markets, there is rapid population growth and the potential for dynamic economic development there.

Thus, new ideas related to transport, energy and trade can become leading trends this year.