By Anakhanum Khidayatova
Austria’s economy is by 80 percent dependent on imports of gas. Austria calls the Azerbaijani Southern Gas Corridor as a key project in the diversification of energy supplies of Europe.
“Azerbaijan intends to become an energy hub with different pipelines and energy resources coming not only from its fields, but also from Turkmenistan and maybe Iran,” Ambassador of Austria to Azerbaijan Axel Wech said in an exclusive interview with Trend Dec. 2.
The ambassador thinks that Azerbaijan needs more roads, railways, hospitals to be constructed to place itself into a position of a transit country.
He underlined again that Austrian companies are very strong in this field.
Azerbaijan will start supplying some 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year from the Shah Deniz field to Europe via the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) in 2019-2020.
The ambassador believes that sooner or later a bigger pipeline than Trans Adriatic Pipeline will be necessary.
TAP’s initial capacity will be 10 billion cubic meters per year, expandable to 20 billion cubic meters per year.
The diplomat stressed the Austrian side’s interest in expanding business in Azerbaijan.
The ambassador also noted that there are plenty of opportunities for Austrian business in Azerbaijan in the fields of construction, agriculture, service sector and education.
“ Austria is very strong in the above mentioned areas and we would like to share our experience with Azerbaijan,” he said.
“Austrian companies had been involved in construction of a new Carpet Museum, of “SHAHDAG” summer winter resort in Gusar, Azerbaijan, in some projects in the Old City of Baku ; we would like to continue working in this area,” he said.
The ambassador also said that supporting of small and medium size business would be beneficial for Azerbaijani economy.
“We would like to work with smaller companies, they are usually more flexible and faster”, he said.
He also noted that relations between two countries are also developing in the spheres of culture, tourism and education.
“We plan to bring to Azerbaijan our schooling system in the field tourism; to train cooks, service personal and hotel managers,” he said.
The ambassador also said that despite Azerbaijan is an interesting destination for tourism it needs to be wider promoted in European tourism markets.
“More promotion, facilitating of visa regime and more quality services would contribute to tourism development in Azerbaijan,” he said.
According to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Austria amounted to nearly $ 420 million in January-October 2015. Some $70 million of this amount accounted for import, while almost $350 million – export from Azerbaijan.