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Azerbaijan expands influence in Arab world - on the results of President Ilham Aliyev's visit to UAE

19 January 2023 10:43 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan expands influence in Arab world - on the results of President Ilham Aliyev's visit to UAE
Rena Murshud
Rena Murshud
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Azerbaijan’s popular Russian language news website Day.Az carries an article by journalist Leyla Tariverdiyeva. The original article can be found at the link below:

Azerbaijan continues to expand its influence and strengthen relations with the Arab world. President Ilham Aliyev spoke from the rostrum of the Arab League summit in November 2022, discussing cooperation with member countries and prospects. Representative delegations from Saudi Arabia visited the Azerbaijani capital in December 2022 and January 2023. Baku maintains contacts with many Arab countries, but Azerbaijan has particularly warm relations with the United Arab Emirates.

President Ilham Aliyev paid a working visit to the UAE on January 15-16. The Azerbaijani leader met with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the first day of his visit, and the next day he spoke at the start of the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Development Week ADSW-2023. As the leader of a country that maintains strong and dynamically developing ties with the Emirates and knows a lot about the principles of sustainable development and their application, the president of Azerbaijan attended this prestigious event as a guest of honor.

The Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2023 is a global initiative that the UAE has been promoting since 2008. The ADSW is a highly authoritative event that draws the attention of the world's largest states and corporations. This is the fifteenth week in a row. As before, the event is being held under the patronage of the UAE president and is being organized by the energy company Masdar.

This week's catchphrase is "United Action to Combat Climate Change Towards COP28". Presidents, politicians, leaders of the energy industry, investors, and entrepreneurs are taking part in the discussions. During the Sustainable Development Week in Abu Dhabi, the most pressing and topical issues related to the problems of climate change and the fight against this phenomenon are raised. The UAE has already made some contributions to this process, as exemplified by Masdar, a renewable energy company and one of the largest in the world in this sector.

By signing a number of documents on the fringes of the Sustainable Development Week in Abu Dhabi 2023, Azerbaijan and the Emirates' cooperation in the use of renewable energy sources has advanced and been enriched with new agreements on bilateral cooperation in this sector.

How Azerbaijan and the UAE's relations have advanced to a new level.

Speaking at the Week in Abu Dhabi, President Ilham Aliyev called the United Arab Emirates one of the most stable, developed, and successful countries in the world.

"I want to congratulate the president and the people of the United Arab Emirates on their great achievements and rapid development. Mr. President, under your leadership, the United Arab Emirates has become one of the most stable, developed, and successful countries in the world. We, like your brothers in Azerbaijan, are very proud of what you are doing," the Azerbaijani president said.

It should be noted that on the eve of the opening of the forum in Abu Dhabi, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It is well known that the two leaders maintain warm and friendly relations. This is a very important factor for sincerity and a desire to support each other's interests to reign in interstate relations as well. At a meeting with Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President Ilham Aliyev recalled the support provided by the Emirates to Azerbaijan during the debate on the South Caucasus region in the UN Security Council. This support is highly appreciated in Baku and is considered an example of friendship and brotherhood. The countries are distinguished by peacefulness, and together they make conditions for ensuring peace, stability, and security in the region. Azerbaijan and the UAE are linked not only by economic projects but enjoy well-established ties in politics, security, etc. At the meeting, Ilham Aliyev invited Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to visit Azerbaijan, and the invitation was gratefully accepted.

In terms of economic cooperation, Azerbaijan is currently working closely with Masdar, one of the world's largest energy companies. The company has been in Azerbaijan for a number of years. The construction of the Garadagh solar power plant began in March 2022 under the agreement signed at the beginning of 2021. The day before, in Abu Dhabi, this company and the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) signed an agreement for the production of 4GW of wind and solar energy. The capacity of the projects will be increased to 10GW in the future.

This, President Ilham Aliyev believes it is entirely feasible. Azerbaijan has a roadmap in this regard, according to the president's speech at the Sustainable Development Week in Abu Dhabi. As a result of this project alone, the country's cooperation with Masdar will turn Azerbaijan into a very important source of green energy. In general, according to the President, memorandums of understanding and agreements signed by Azerbaijan with international energy companies will create an opportunity to produce up to 22 GW of wind and solar energy. As for the potential, on land, it is 27 GW of wind and solar energy, in the liberated territories - 10 GW, while in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, the potential of wind energy is very high - 157 GW.

The president stressed that Azerbaijan is developing renewable energy sources to ensure its own energy security. This issue has already been settled. Azerbaijan's internal needs are now fully met. The renewable energy program is being developed in the country, firstly, because this industry has huge potential, and, secondly, because it will help the country diversify exports. And, of course, in this way, a new environmentally friendly sector of the economy is being created.

Azerbaijan currently exports crude oil, oil products, natural gas, petrochemicals, and electricity. Just two years ago, the Southern Gas Corridor was completed, a 3,500 km integrated pipeline system that already supplies gas to Europe. From January 1 of this year, Romania also began to receive Azerbaijani gas. In 2022, Azerbaijan exported 19 billion cubic meters of gas through the Southern Gas Corridor, this year our country's partners will receive 24 billion cubic meters.

Electricity is one of the export items that Azerbaijan currently exports to neighboring countries. Additionally, on December 17, a four-party agreement was signed in Bucharest regarding the laying of an electric cable along the Black Sea's bottom from Georgia's Black Sea coast to Romania's Black Sea coast. Through this transmission line, Azerbaijani electricity will also go to Europe. As the president noted in his speech at the Week in Abu Dhabi, the plan is to build a cable that will allow us to transport 4 GW of green energy from Azerbaijan. But these are already agreed volumes, and the possibilities and plans can be wider.

"The investment environment in Azerbaijan is very positive. We have attracted large investments in the oil and gas sector. And now our goal is renewable energy. In other words, we have big plans, and I am sure that we will cope with the work," President Ilham Aliyev noted.

Since the cost of light sources in the energy sector is quite high, Azerbaijan is moving cautiously and slowly in this direction. By 2030, it is planned to increase the share of renewable energy in the total volume of energy produced in the country to 30 percent. Today's pace allows us to achieve such a result. Especially, in the presence of such partners as the Emirate's Masdar.

As previously mentioned, SOCAR and Masdar signed agreements in Abu Dhabi on January 15, 2023, as part of the working visit of the Azerbaijani president to the UAE. These agreements pertain to the joint development of projects for offshore wind energy (2 GW) and the creation of green hydrogen, as well as the joint development of projects for solar energy (1 GW) and onshore wind energy (1 GW). These agreements will contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere in Azerbaijan, the development of renewable energy sources, and the sustainable economic growth of the country.

During the special session "The Path to Zero Emissions: Potential and Opportunities of Green Energy in Karabakh Region," held in Shusha as part of Baku Energy Week, in June 2022, a memorandum of understanding was signed between SOCAR and Masdar. It was stated that the UAE-based company is seeking to expand its presence in Azerbaijan in the solar and wind energy sectors, as well as in the production of green hydrogen and other renewable energy sources.

The first contact between Azerbaijan and Masdar was made in 2018. The country's Ministry of Energy spoke more specifically about the possibilities of cooperation in 2019, and an agreement on the Garadagh solar power plant project with an installed capacity of 230 megawatts was signed in January 2020. In April 2021, the Ministry of Energy, Azerenergy OJSC, and Masdar signed an Investment Agreement, an Energy Purchase and Sale Agreement, and an Agreement for Connecting to the Transmission Grid for the Construction of a Solar Power Plant in Garadagh.

On March 15, Baku witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony for the Garadagh solar power plant. On the eve of the ceremony, Azerbaijan and Masdar signed four memorandums of understanding on cooperation in the field of renewable energy sources production. These are memorandums on mutual understanding and cooperation in the fields of integrated renewable energy at sea; renewable energy sources and energy efficiency; electricity generation from municipal solid waste; and mutual understanding and cooperation in the fields of renewable and clean energy in the Karabakh and East Zangazur economic regions.

Considering the level of ties between Azerbaijan and the UAE, their shared desire to deepen ties, and the friendship between their leaders, it is reasonable to assume that Baku and Abu Dhabi will look beyond the energy sector. Both countries have significant potential, which allows for greater cooperation. This is unquestionably advantageous for both Azerbaijan and the UAE.

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