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Wednesday, 16 December 2015 12:00

We want to use the full potential of our relations – Ambassador of Germany to Azerbaijan

Caspian Energy (CE): Frau Tempel, in one of the interviews you gave two years ago you mentioned that your goal is  ensure much broader rapproachment of the two countries, especially deepening of economic relations. What could you say about the results that your mission has achieved so far? Are you satisfied with them?

Ms. Heidrun Tempel, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Azerbaijan: Germany and Azerbaijan are close political and economic partners. In the past, bilateral trade exchange has grown dynamically, reaching almost 3.2 bln € in 2015. There is still a lot untapped potential and high interest on both sides, as again underlined at the 5th High Level working group meeting on economy and investment under the auspices of the two Ministries of Economy hold in Berlin on 4th November and at the 15th German-Azerbaijan Business Forum hold in Baku on 23 November. We all know and agree that there is room for further deepening of our bilateral economic relations. Bearing in mind that small and medium enterprises are the back bone of Germany’s successful economy we welcome and encourage steps taken to diversify the economy and strengthen the SME sector in Azerbaijan. My Embassy together with the German Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, the business community  and the German development cooperation agencies support Azerbaijan in this context and will do so in the future.

 

 

CE: President of Azerbaijan has recently stated about broad-scale changes in the economy, measures aimed at lending support to business, developing production industry and enhancing the investment attractiveness of Azerbaijan. What changes do you see in the bilateral economic relations since the foundation of the German economy, as Your Excellency have already mentioned, is the small and medium business? Can Germany share its experience within the framework of the meetings of the Caspian European Club?

Ms. Heidrun Tempel : Azerbaijan has a vivid and rapidly developing economy. Developments have been truly impressive in the past years. I was delighted to learn that the Davos World Economic Forum awarded Azerbaijan 40th place worldwide in terms of economic competitiveness. Yet one should not rest on his laurels. Further diversification of the economy is needed, especially as the means for confronting the economic challenges related to the developments on the oil and gas markets. I am very glad to see that this is a declared policy of the Azerbaijani government.

You are right in pointing out that small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the German economy. Most of groundbreaking innovations  in our economy have been carried out by small often family run enterprises, many of them global players today. We readily share our experience and encourage our SME to invest in Azerbaijan. I am glad that among the goals of the Caspian European Club are support and development of the small and medium business in the Caspian region.

 

 

CE: Which perspectives do you see in the investment sphere, in cooperation in the field of high technologies?

Ms. Heidrun Tempel : As laid out before, development of the non-oil sector has been rightly declared a priority by the Government of Azerbaijan. We fully support this decision and we see a huge potential for enhancing bilateral cooperation in this sphere. Investment in high technologies is important in this regard. Here, we are talking not only about a transfer of technology. We also mean investment in the education sphere. I am convinced that Azerbaijan’s most important resource are not oil and gas but its people.  Therefore, I see excellent perspectives for academic exchange, cooperation of universities, vocational education. We already have several highly successful student exchange programmes. In my view, this would be a sound basis for attracting mutual investments and deepening our economic relations.

 

 

CE: What are the prospects for cooperation in the oil-gas industry?

Ms. Heidrun Tempel : Azerbaijan is a crucial partner for Europe in achieving energy diversification. We have long-standing cooperation projects and commitments in this field. The decision to build the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) has been a major step in bringing the supplier and demand markets together. Azerbaijan has repeatedly proven that it is a strategic, reliable partner in this field. Azerbaijan is Germany’s 6th largest supplier of oil. With SGC completed, Azerbaijan’s importance for Germany will grow in the gas sector, too. By the same token, Azerbaijan could further benefit from German technology for oil and gas exploration, production and processing. To sum it up: the prospects are positive and we want to use the full potential of our relations in this field.

 

 

CE: Are the German investors interested in extending the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route till the northern part of Europe? Which hopes does Germany rest on this route?

Ms. Heidrun Tempel : In today’s globalized world one cannot think in single countries’ markets alone. Interdependence is growing. Connectivity is key, as the demands of consumers and the complexities of logistical chains are growing. Reliable and cost effective transportation connecting countries and regions has become a vital necessity. We welcome the ambitious BTK rail project and look forward to its completion. The European Union has been working since mid-90s on implementation of the Trans-European Networks (TEN) which aim at fostering interconnectivity not only within the EU but also with the neighboring regions, including the Southern Caucasus. We follow with great interest transport projects in the regions themselves and regard the BTK as a path-breaking project bringing Azerbaijan and the whole Caucasus region literally closer to Europe.

 

 

CE: Germany is implementing many projects on energy efficiency and introduction of renewable sources of energy. What are the possibilities to expand relationship in this area as well?

Ms. Heidrun Tempel : Germany has committed itself to  development of the green energy. There have been already some substantial results we can show for it: While in 2000, only some six percent of electricity consumed came from renewable sources, today this figure lies at around 28 percent.

Our aim is that by 2030, half of the country’s energy supply will be provided by sun, wind and other renewables like hydropower and biomass. At the same time, we strive for more energy efficiency: our aim is to reduce energy consumption by half by 2050. It is an economic question as well as the one of preserving our environment, confronting the climate change. Yet it is a global cause and only together we can achieve noticeable results. There has been development in this area in Azerbaijan in the past years. Yet I am convinced that the potential is far from having been exploited to the full. German business active in the green and energy efficiency spheres is a reliable partner here.

 

 

CE: Germany has assumed a humane and responsible obligation to host about 1 mln refugees. What is the economic aspect of this issue for Germany? Will there be changes in the energy security policy of the biggest economy of the EU?

Ms. Heidrun Tempel : With an increase of 51 percent, Europe has been witnessing the largest rise in the number of refugees in relative terms during the year 2015. Compared with our EU partners Germany – together with Sweden and the Netherlands - are taking care of a particularly high number of refugees. Speaking about my country, there is a tremendous willingness to help and support by the population, individual citizens and NGO’s. Of course, such an immense number of refugees poses challenges for us and puts financial, administrative and infrastructural strains on municipalities in particular. Therefore, Germany has been calling for a balanced reception of refugees in all Member states of the European Union through fair and binding quotas.

 

 

CE: Do you think EU should strengthen investment and trade relations with the Caspian states?

Ms. Heidrun Tempel : EU is an important and reliable economic partner for Caspian States.  We should do everything to maintain and promote our economic relations with the partners around the Caspi. Stability and peaceful development here are important for the countries concerned, for the European Union, also for Germany. Economic integration, trade, flow of goods and investments are stability-enhancing and foster development.

 

                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for the interview

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