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Thank you minister,

It is an honour to share with you the position of the European Commission. And our perspective on today’s meeting of the 8th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council.

I want first to thank President Aliyev and Energy Minister Shahbazov for their hospitality and for welcoming me so warmly here in Azerbaijan.

This was my first trip to Baku and the ministerial meeting has been a good opportunity for me to have a series of bilateral meetings with our partners. We had a chance to discuss how we can intensify our cooperation in the energy sector. Our bilateral relations are strong and Azerbaijan is a strategic and reliable energy partner for the European Union.

First, today’s Ministerial meeting was an opportunity to look back at how the Southern Gas Corridor infrastructure is working, after one year of full-scale operation. It was very good to see so many Energy Ministers from partner countries around the table as a testament to the importance of this project.

I think everyone recognised that this infrastructure has a positive impact on the countries and regions it serves, and that this project greatly contributes to reliable, competitive and affordable supply in Southern East Europe. As a Commission we share this assessment. The Southern Gas Corridor has a strategic importance for the European Union.

And the current context of rising energy prices and tight gas markets has further provided the background for our exchanges. In this regard, this corridor has a relevance for enhancing security of supply in Europe.

This has brought into focus the question of whether through this corridor we can increase in the short term gas supply, to compensate from the shortfall from other pipelines. I have discussed this also in my bilateral meetings and I welcome that Azerbaijan is doing all it can to ramp up its Shah Deniz field as quickly as possible to boost gas supply.

Beyond the short term and the current situation, the European Union, is of course interested in enhancing our medium and long-term cooperation with Azerbaijan on energy supplies and energy transition.

In this regard we also discussed how to bring the Southern Gas Corridor to the next stage. We discussed the prospects for an extension of the infrastructure, in particular to the Western Balkans.

The European Commission recognises the role that gas can play, in a transitional phase, in helping the countries of the Western Balkans moving away from coal and decarbonising their energy systems. This is recognised in our Western Balkans Investment Plan.

But of course, these countries themselves have to assess what are their future gas needs. Their choices in the coming months will clarify the outlook for new projects in the region. In this context, there is a market test being carried oud and we will know the results by July.

And today under the second session, we discussed the energy transition and possible pathways from fossil fuels and methane reduction measures to a climate-neutral economy.

Azerbaijan has significant renewables potential, including offshore wind and I was very happy to discuss cooperation in clean energy projects with Minister in our bilateral meeting.

I also highlighted the importance to cut methane emissions and I welcome Azerbaijan’s openness to consider possible methane reduction pathways. I can say that I have noted a real commitment here.

So, I am very much looking forward to continue our cooperation with Azerbaijan on energy supplies, energy transition and exploring its renewables potential. It was an honour to participate in today’s event.  And we are open for future cooperation.

Thank you!