Baku meeting of Eastern Partnership countries focus on Europe’s energy security (UPDATE)

By Gulgiz Dadashova

The 4th informal dialogue meeting of Eastern Partnership countries' energy ministers kicked off in Baku on September 8.

Europe's energy security is the key topic of the two-day event.

Addressing the event, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule said the energy security is a key strategic objective for the Eastern Partnership.

"The form of eastern partnership is for us (EU) the best possible tool how we in the EU can focus on real needs of members of the Eastern Partners and also needs of the region," he said.

"It is time to address the challenges in energy and the political situation in the region we face.

"We have improved our tools, including the neighboring investments framework, which provides the leverage funds of the European financial institutions to finance infrastructure projects."

Fule further expressed hope that the countries will be able to focus on the cheapest and the cleanest form of energy - energy efficiency.

EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, for his part, spoke of the affect of the recent political developments to the energy issues.

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has intensified the efforts of the EU towards energy security of its supplies, Oettinger said.

He stressed the events happening in particular, in Ukraine, in the Middle East, and other regions have direct impact on the neighboring countries.

"With regard to the current Ukrainian crisis, the Eastern Partnership and notably, our cooperation on energy security can help to guarantee security in the region," Oettinger stressed.

The commissioner expressed confidence that successful collaboration between the partners in the energy sector can help and provide security and stability.

"In the context of our Eastern Partnership, we have good advantages. Several programs and projects are ongoing. We can make good further efforts together."

He noted that the subject of two days dialogue will be in particular how to diversify routes of energy supplies.

Azerbaijan's Energy Minister Natig Aliyev also drew attention to the recent events taking place in North Africa and Ukraine.

He said the developments taking place in Eurasia cause changes in the world's energy map.

Aliyev noted the importance of expanding the cooperation and working on the diversification of the energy supply routes with a view to strengthen the energy security.

The energy minister went on to add that by late 2014, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey will sign an agreement on electricity transmission under the Energy Bridge project.

He underscored that the intense work under the project for the export of electricity through the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route is underway.

Aliyev further stressed that Azerbaijan has fully ensured its energy independence. Additionally, the country has diversified the routes for the electricity supply with three oil and four gas pipelines, he added.

The EU program on "Eastern Partnership" was adopted on the initiative of Poland and Sweden and approved at the EU summit in Brussels in 2008.

The goal of the Eastern Partnership program is the rapprochement between the EU and Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus.

The program envisages significant increase in the level of political interaction, large integration of former Soviet republics into EU economy, increasing the volume of financial aid to them and strengthening the energy security.