Europe Pursues Enhanced Cooperation With Azerbaijan: Lithuania's Perspective


(MENAFN- Trend News Agency) BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 21. Azerbaijan stands out as a frontrunner on the global stage, garnering growing interest as an appealing European ally. Lithuania is among those European partners of Azerbaijan that has been a support and strategic partner for a long time. In the course of the last thirty years, Azerbaijan and Lithuania have fostered amicable interstate relations that have evolved into a partnership grounded in shared perspectives on numerous global matters. Presently, both nations are diligently working towards elevating trade and cooperation across diverse domains to an entirely new level.

Bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Lithuania encompasses various areas of mutual interest, including political, economic, cultural, and diplomatic relations. The two countries have been working together to enhance cooperation and strengthen their ties.

Lithuania advocates for enhanced cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan, recognizing Azerbaijan's significance within the EU's Eastern Partnership platform and its strategic role as an energy partner. Amidst the EU's efforts to reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuels, there is a notable eagerness among EU member states to enhance energy collaboration with alternative suppliers and broaden the range of energy sources. Azerbaijan emerges as a significant player in this pursuit, with the EU expressing a keen interest in bolstering energy cooperation and securing increased volumes of natural gas from Azerbaijan. The Lithuanian side has repeatedly expressed its desire to expand energy partnership with Azerbaijan as part of diversifying energy resource supplies.

With Lithuania's recent establishment of the gas pipeline connecting the country and the Baltics to the European gas network (GIPL), coupled with Lithuania's LNG terminal capabilities, the prospects of Azerbaijani gas reaching Lithuania through interconnections with the European Union are promising. In the future, the gas from the Caspian region holds the potential to be supplied to Lithuania, further strengthening energy ties between the two countries.

Azerbaijan stands as one of Lithuania's most robust partners when it comes to EU Twinning projects awarded to Lithuania within the Eastern Partnership countries. To date, Lithuania has engaged in 26 project selections in Azerbaijan, securing participation in 17 of them. This collaborative track record highlights the fruitful cooperation and shared commitment between the two nations in promoting mutual development and progress.

In 2022 alone, Lithuania has successfully secured four EU Twinning projects in Azerbaijan, focusing on areas such as transport safety, environmental protection, pension reform, and healthcare. These projects demonstrate the ongoing commitment of Lithuanian institutions to contribute their expertise and collaborate with their Azerbaijani counterparts in driving positive developments in these key sectors. Additionally, Lithuanian institutions are currently actively implementing five EU Twinning projects in Azerbaijan, further strengthening the bilateral cooperation and exchange of knowledge between the two countries. Moreover, in 2023, Lithuania will be assisting Azerbaijan in the area of mine action through the EU Team Europe Initiative.

Economically, Azerbaijan and Lithuania have been fostering trade and investment relations. In 2022, the trade turnover between the two countries reached almost $33 million.

Both Azerbaijan and Lithuania have actively pursued strategies to boost bilateral trade and explore untapped opportunities for economic cooperation. Key sectors of focus include energy, transportation, agriculture, and information technology.

Azerbaijan has been actively working to create a favorable business environment that encourages investment, stimulates economic growth, and supports the development of various industries. The country has implemented a range of reforms and initiatives to attract domestic and foreign businesses, improve the ease of doing business, and enhance competitiveness.

A shared goal of creating an advantageous business climate has driven initiatives to foster direct engagement between the business communities of both nations, facilitating fruitful partnerships and expanding economic ties. An economic forum between the business communities of Azerbaijan and Lithuania was held in May 2022 as part of the Lithuanian President's visit to Azerbaijan. The issues the two delegations discussed includedtrade, investment, agriculture, development of information technology, transport, energy, education, etc. This event once again showed Azerbaijan's growing attractiveness as a destination for business and investment.

Today, Azerbaijan holds an influential position among its European counterparts, thanks to the forward-thinking policies of President Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijan's reputation for effectively executing oil and gas projects has earned the country immense respect from its partners. However, it is not just the energy sector that attracts attention. Increasingly, more countries are recognizing the value of developing relations with Azerbaijan across various sectors. The signing of strategic agreements with European partners in recent years underscores the significance of this policy direction. Europe's relationship with the Caucasus would be incomplete without Azerbaijan's active participation and influence. As a prominent leader in the South Caucasus region, Azerbaijan's importance extends beyond its immediate neighbors, making it a significant player on the entire European continent.

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