Germany eyes Azerbaijan energy sector, Merkel calls for stronger economic ties

Germany eyes Azerbaijan energy sector, Merkel calls for stronger economic ties

By Ruppert Mayr, dpa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday called for stronger economic ties with Azerbaijan, especially in the energy sector, during a meeting with President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.

Merkel made clear that Germany and the European Union are interested in expanding their energy markets in order to become less reliant on Russian-provided gas – which is where Azerbaijan, with a pipeline that runs through Turkey into the southern EU nations, comes in.

Aliyev showed interest in broadening the pipeline towards Europe, though he was a bit more restrained on the question of whether Turkmenistan could also move gas to Europe through Azerbaijan.

The leaders also discussed the human rights situation in the South Caucasian country, with Aliyev saying he wanted to keep up talks.

Merkel gave reassurances that Germany would continue to push for a political solution to the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and neighbouring Armenia over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The region belongs to Azerbaijan but is controlled by pro-Armenian forces.

Merkel is set to return to Berlin on Saturday night. Azerbaijan is her final stop on a three-day tour through the region that had started Thursday in Georgia and then moved on to Armenia on Friday.

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