A solemn ceremony has been held in Selim, the Turkish province of Kars, on the occasion of the groundbreaking of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP).
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili attended the ceremony.
The ceremony started with demonstration of a film about TANAP. The agreement on the project was signed in Istanbul in 2012.
The project will link the expanded South Caucasus Pipeline, which starts in Azerbaijan, with several pipelines in the European Union. The project will be carried out in several stages, with the first ending in 2018. The planned capacity of the pipeline will be 16 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year by 2020, and will be increased later up to 23 billion cubic metres by 2023 and 31 billion cubic metres by 2026. Ten billion cubic metres of the initial 16 billion cubic metres volume will be transported to Europe, while 6 billion cubic metres to Turkey.
The national anthems of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia were played.
President of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan Rovnag Abdullayev said TANAP became a reality thanks to efforts of the heads of state of Azerbaijan and Turkey, adding the project would contribute to the development of the countries and prosperity of the people.
Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Amos Hochstein said he was honored to represent U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. He said the U.S. considered the Southern Gas Corridor as the completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan gas pipeline process that started 20 years ago. He said the U.S. government attached particular importance to TANAP.
Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic described the groundbreaking of the Southern Gas Corridor in 2014 and TANAP six months later as a remarkable event. Thanking President Ilham Aliyev for supporting the realization of TANAP, he said the European Union puts great emphasis on the project and would do it utmost for its realization.
Turkish minister of energy and natural resources Taner Yildiz underlined TANAP`s importance in terms of meeting gas demand of the European Union countries.
President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili said his country placed special importance on the Southern Gas Corridor, adding the project would play a key role in the development of the region. The Georgian leader said TANAP played the role of an energy corridor between Asia and Europe, noting it would contribute to trade tourism and other projects, and strongly assist our countries in ensuring their energy security.
President Ilham Aliyev said: “It is a historical day today, and first and foremost, it is the project of Turkish-Azerbaijani unity.”
The head of state said joint initiatives of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia have always been a success, expressing his confidence that this project would have the same fate too. President Ilham Aliyev emphasized Azerbaijan`s important role in meeting Europe`s gas demand.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he believed the project would contribute to peace and prosperity.
Then the foundation stone for TANAP was laid.