By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijan's State Oil Company (SOCAR) and Russia's gas giant Gazprom have agreed on the short-term transit of Russian gas to Armenia through Azerbaijan due to repairs in the North Caucasus - Transcaucasia gas pipeline, news sources have reported.
Ibrahim Ahmadov, deputy head of SOCAR's public relations department, said that due to ongoing temporary repairs in the North Caucasus-Transcaucasia pipeline, "Russia requested Azerbaijan to allow the temporary transit of its natural gas to Georgia through its territory [and then to Armenia] and the sides reached an agreement on paid transit”.
Gazprom Export earlier stated that the sides sealed the deal on March 16.
"During the scheduled maintenance work on the North Caucasus - Transcaucasia gas pipeline, Russian gas will be supplied to consumers through the territory of Azerbaijan. On March 16, Gazprom Export and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan signed a short-term contract for the transportation of Russian gas through the territory of Azerbaijan," Gazprom Export said.
North Caucasus-Transcaucasia pipeline runs through Russia, Georgia and Armenia. Its transportation capacity stands at 16 million cubic meters of gas per day.
Commenting on the deal, former US ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza said the fact that Azerbaijan is going to help Armenia maintain a steady supply of natural gas whether from Russia or anywhere else, is another sign of how positively and humanely Azerbaijan has behaved in the aftermath of the Second Karabakh War.
He pointed out that this step is another sign of how Azerbaijan is committed to helping Armenia reintegrate with its neighbours and thereby heal the wounds of war by generating economic cooperation and economic growth.
“It would be very wise of Armenia to take advantage of this opportunity. Unfortunately, the political crisis in Armenia has led to such psychological pain that it is often impossible for the political leadership and even the common citizens of Armenia to recognize what a great opportunity is before them. That opportunity of course is the November 10 agreement which among other things says that all transportation roads in the region are reopened. There are many opportunities in terms of infrastructure projects now that Azerbaijan and Turkey are willing to pull together that can benefit Armenia and I hope that Armenia will accept this opportunity,” he concluded.
Armenia and Azerbaijan ceased economic cooperation from the early 1990s as they fought a war over the latter's Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts before a ceasefire deal was struck in 1994. Azerbaijan regained control over its occupied territories liberating them in a 44-day war between late September and early November 2020. In January 2021, Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders agreed to work on restoring economic and transport links. A day after SOCAR and Gazprom concluded the deal, Azerbaijan in the person of Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov once again reiterated that the opening of communications in the region will benefit all regional countries, including Armenia.
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