What does Merkel bring to Baku?
One of the key topics of Chancellor Angela Merkel's forthcoming visit to Azerbaijan - a country leading in economic cooperation with the European Union in the South Caucasus - will be the prospects of economic projects implemented by Baku in Europe and by Berlin in Azerbaijan, oil expert Ilham Shaban and political expert Elkhan Alasgarov told Vestnik Kavkaza.
According to head of the 'Caspian Barrel' Center for Oil Research Ilham Shaban, this important visit of Merkel to Baku will be devoted to the key issues of deepening cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union. "As always, the energy component is the cornerstone of the EU-Azerbaijan relations. In earlier times, the key topic at such negotiations was the export of Azerbaijani oil - 55-60% of Azerbaijan's exports were oil supplies to European markets. Now, due to the Southern Gas Corridor project, the issue of exporting Azerbaijani gas to Europe tops the agenda. For the next few years, gas will be the main direction of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU," he said.
Azerbaijan, in its turn, is interested in cooperation with Germany in the field of electric power industry. Baku is in need of purchases of high-quality equipment to produce and distribute electricity. "Outside the raw material sector, our economic contacts with Germany are conducted along the electric power line, the German company Siemens works in the country. Cooperation in the non-oil sector with Europe is not yet comparable with the interaction in hydrocarbon exports, but it is actively developing. Siemens Power Generation Group built a power plant in Sumgait with the capacity of 525 MW, which is a very high-quality project. Now they came out with proposals for new similar projects that are of great interest to Azerbaijan in connection with the tasks of ensuring energy security of the republic," Ilham Shaban said.
Head of the expert council of Baku Network, Elkhan Alasgarov, agreed with Shaban. "The visit of the head of the German government to Azerbaijan has several aspects, and the main one is economic. Azerbaijan and Germany have normal economic relations, primarily due to the fact that Germany is interested in the energy resources of the Caspian. In addition, Azerbaijan is the main buyer of German engineering products and has close ties with companies from a wide range of sectors of German industry. Azerbaijan is interested in Germany as the leading EU country and a strong partner in the economic area," he pointed out.
"Angela Merkel's visit to Baku will take place against the backdrop of the implementation of major economic projects connecting Azerbaijan and Europe, including the development of the Shah Deniz project and the laying of the final section of the Southern Gas Corridor, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which will bring Azeri gas to German regions," Elkhan Alasgarov stressed.
Undoubtedly, the support of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will also be on the visit's agenda. "Germany unequivocally supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. German scientists regularly carry out studies on this topic and speak with an unconditional recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Although Germany is not a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, it is the leading state in Europe, which is capable of influencing its neighbors' policy on such a significant issue for Azerbaijan as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," the head of the expert council of Baku Network concluded.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Baku on August 25, spokesman of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Hikmet Hajiyev said earlier. The German Chancellor will also visit Tbilisi and Yerevan.