Flame Towers complex in Baku.
Luis Ayllón. Madrid
The recent visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Manuel García-Margallo, to Azerbaijan, seems to have pleased the authorities of the country. The objective for the Minister in Baku, where he was last 23 April, was fundamentally economic and that is how the assistant vice-chairman of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), Vitaliy Baylarbayov, sees it. He has just told a group of European journalists that Azerbaijan is open to the arrival of Spanish companies.
Azerbaijanis have been showing their interest in attracting the Spanish to their country for a long time. As a clear sign, the fact that one of the football teams in top shape in Spain at the moment –the Atlético de Madrid– is showing the slogan “Azerbaijan. Land of fire” in their t-shirts. They also have an embassy in Madrid since the year 2005.
However, at the moment, there is not a single Spanish company of hydrocarbons present in this country, whose situation is strategic, especially now, as a consequence of Ukraine’s crisis. Therefore, Baylarbayov assured that any proposal about activity of Spanish companies in their country would be carefully considered, both regarding investments and business relations.
Spanish exports to Azerbaijan rose to 72 million euros last year thanks to, especially, the sending of ceramics, furniture and automobiles, whereas imports were nearly all fuels, valued at 110 million euros.
The State Oil Company assures that any proposal will be taken into consideration
During his stay in Baku, García-Margallo expressed his hope for Spain to have an Embassy in Azerbaijan, although, for now, there will only be one diplomat integrated into the EU’s delegation. Above all, the minister signed, along with his colleague Azeri, Elmar Mammadyarov, an agreement to avoid double imposition, which will make the arrival of Spanish companies easier to which is one of the main hydrocarbon producing countries thanks to the deposits it has in the Caspian Sea, considered as one of the biggest in the world.
Besides, it is estimated that Azerbaijan will be the passage place for the majority of the gas pipelines supplying energy to the European Union. In fact, they will transport 6 million cubic metres of gas to Turkey starting in 2018 and 10 million to Italy in 2019 using 3,500 kilometres of gas pipelines through Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy from where they can reach other European markets.