Caspian Energy Journal Caspian European Club
Thursday, 25 August 2016 13:00

We are positive about new formats of regional cooperation - Ambassador of Moldova Gheorghe Leuca Featured

Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Leuca, this March you started your mission as the Ambassador of Moldova to Azerbaijan and Georgia. What have been done by the previous missions, and what do you see as a key objective of your mission?

Gheorghe Leuca, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Moldova to the Republic of Azerbaijan: Our countries have always enjoyed friendly and warm relations both at the bilateral and multilateral levels. And our relations have been developing at a fast pace since when the two countries gained independence. We are also tied with some symbolic moments: we gained independence in the same year, and became members of the UN on the same day, on March 2, 1992. All the countries of the former Soviet Union became members of the UN in the same year, but on different days, but Azerbaijan and Moldova became members of the UN on the same day. This year we also celebrate the 25 anniversary of independence of our countries.

Naturally, since then our missions together with our Azerbaijani counterparts have made great efforts to strengthen the ties and relations that always existed between our nations and countries. A number of measures have been conducted and some success achieved in the development of trade and economic relations, their strengthening in all fields, including the cultural and humanitarian area. Naturally, the political relations have been maintained at the high level as proved by mutual support that our countries offer to each other within international organizations, including the UN, and within regional organizations such as OSCE, BSEC and others.

Later GUAM was established and it includes, inter alia, Moldova and Azerbaijan. We know about all best practices and work carried out by this organisation. Of course, there are certain points to be improved, but, nevertheless, the organisation is developing, the relations between our countries and participation in various projects are at the high level. A diplomat from Azerbaijan has been recently appointed Secretary-General of the organisation, and the last meeting hosted on March 15-16 showed that we have very interesting projects, especially in the field of economy, including the development of tourism.

And we hope that it will give great results. With regard to my mandate, of course I will do whatever is necessary in order to consolidate and strengthen those relations, and focus on key activities that would improve these relations, strengthen them both in the political and economic, and in the cultural and humanitarian areas.


CE: Which common interests do the two countries share together? What challenges do hamper the development of the bilateral relations?

Gheorghe Leuca: In the current environment, given the problems and challenges faced by the countries as well as common interests, in my opinion, our countries are, in the first place, united by the necessity to ensure sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries, their sustainable development and strengthening of the bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

To this end, the essential point is to boost further strengthening of the bilateral cooperation in all areas, as well as cooperation within international organizations, including the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, BSEC, GUAM and others.

As for challenges, I would not call them problems, but rather goals to be addressed by joint efforts in order to continue to develop cooperation in all areas and as a result achieve concrete outcomes, boost improvement and strengthening of the bilateral relations in all areas.


CE: During your meeting with His Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, he told you that the potential of the two countries in the field of trade and investment is not used to the full extent. Do you have a relevant plan of action in this regard?

Gheorghe Leuca: We have certain plans, but I believe that at this stage the most important thing is to resume the work of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, since the last meeting of the commission was held in 2012, and a sufficient period of time has passed to get back to those actions, which are necessary to improve our economic relations. Although, of course, the plans of the protocol include not only economic and trade sectors, but also other areas of cooperation, such as the cultural and humanitarian field, education, healthcare, social protection, including diasporas-related issues. In addition, I would like to say that bilateral consultations are now conducted at various levels, including consultations between Cochairmen, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, the Chamber of Commerce and other agencies involved in the preparation of a meeting in order to hold it this year.

There is interest to promote and support investment projects of economic entities of the two countries. The Republic of Moldova is not included in the investment package implemented by the Republic of Azerbaijan abroad. There is a possibility for participation of the Azerbaijan capital in various tenders for privatization of state property of the Republic of Moldova, and the interest for participation of Azerbaijani manufacturers in specialized exhibitions in the Republic of Moldova.


CE: Mr. Leuca, when is it planned to host a meeting of the intergovernmental commission?

Gheorghe Leuca: We expressed our readiness to hold a meeting before the end of September. First of all, attending the meeting will be of course our Co-Chairman, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy Octavian Calmâc and his accompanying delegation. From the Azerbaijani side, the Co-Chairman is the First Deputy Prime Minister, Yagub Eyyubov. Both sides also expressed hope that we will be able to organise a business forum in the framework of the Commission, and it will be an impetus for the development of future relations.


CE: Mr. Leuca, what economic sense does Moldova currently assign to the GUAM organisation?

Gheorghe Leuca: I have to say that of course at different stages of the GUAM activities the organisation faced different periods, challenges, when the cooperation was developing more or less active for some objective and subjective reasons...


CE: Which reasons do you consider objective and which ones are subjective?

Gheorghe Leuca: Different countries at different periods of time faced different situations, political backgrounds were changing as well as leadership, governments, and directions of economy. These are objective reasons. I would say also that sometimes happens that interests of all four countries at the same time do not coincide on certain nuances of work or cooperation, depending on the period of time, etc. But I can tell you that I personally had the privilege to participate in the talks on two resolutions, which are prepared and put forward jointly by the GUAM member countries. Moreover, one of them, namely the Resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and GUAM, for the first time was proposed and adopted by the UN General Assembly in October 2012. I believe that another resolution for two years will be adopted this year at the 71st UN General Assembly, taking into account new proposals and modifications.


CE: Which multilateral projects is Moldova currently interested in?

Gheorghe Leuca: As I have already said above the GUAM session under the chairmanship of Azerbaijan was held on 16 March. We discussed all new projects that should be put forward and work, one of the projects concerned the development of tourism. We have certain programs in the energy sector. All activities that GUAM deals with were reflected and should be implemented. I think that our colleagues in Ukraine will inform us about the progress on these projects.


CE: What policy does Moldova follow in the field of energy security?

Gheorghe Leuca: This is a very important issue for us. As you know, Moldova depends almost entirely on one source of energy, so for us it is important to ensure energy security, diversification of sources and routes. To this end, we have developed the strategy to 2030, which is very important. It is divided into certain segments, which define our strategic objectives, priorities and possibilities.


CE: Could you please say whether this strategy is correlated with the programs of the Energy Union of the European Commission?

Gheorghe Leuca: Yes, certainly, in our strategy we must consider all documents which have been signed with the EU as there are certain standards and program in force. It also involves issues on use of renewable sources of energy and environmental protection. We are interested in diversification of sources of energy.

The strategy pursues three major tasks: ensuring safe energy supply; development of competitive markets, their regional and European integration; ensuring sustainability of the energy sector and fight against climate changes.

National goals, aimed at improvement of the energy efficiency and increase of use of renewable sources by 2020, have been set at a considerably ambitious level and in accordance with the goals of the European Union. Having two priority directions as a basis, provision of energy supply safety will be the most important goal for this decade: consolidation of transit of electricity and natural gas by means of expansion of combining of electricity networks by 2020; and creation of modern platform for electricity generation at the expense of renewable sources.

Gas interconnection Yassi (Romania) and Ungeni (Moldova) was commissioned in 2014. It is noteworthy that the event took place on August 27, an independence day of Moldova. This route provides new opportunities for diversification. The following stage will connect this gas pipeline with the capital of the country, which is the biggest gas consumer. Ungen-Kishineu interconnector is planned to be built by 2018-2019.

In addition to this project, we are interested in joining other gas corridors. In particular, AGR Interconnector (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector) which is developing and we hope that it will help us to get additional sources of energy. We should take our domestic reserves into account as well – electricity, use of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, use of available opportunities in order to improve and strengthen an energy security. 


CE: Early in August the government of Moldova announced a tender for exploration and development of blocks in the south part of the country. What is the oil-gas potential of Moldova? What are the forecasted reserves?

Gheorghe Leuca: It is hard to say. We do not have preliminary estimates. The developments were launched as early as 70s and continued in 1984. We only have three fields. As the depth of drilling of the majority of wells reached up to 1000m and there were only few with the depth reaching a little over 3000m, nowadays investments are required to continue drilling and rehabilitating the fields. Geological prospect of discovery of certain huge hydrocarbon reserves has been revealed.

The government has announced an open international tender and we are interested in having Azerbaijan, as one of the experienced global developers and our friend, also other countries participated in it.


CE: Integration processes are running in new formats in the Caspian region today. Meeting of Presidents of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia has recently taken place. What resonance do these processes gain in Moldova? Do you see new prospects of cooperation in them?

Gheorghe Leuca: Of course, three countries also have a big interest in strengthening of cooperation in the non oil sector as well as in participation in transport corridors. Any improvement in development of transport, gas corridors and other main lines certainly has a positive impact on economic development not only of directly involved countries but also their partners. Azerbaijan is located on a very important strategic position and any main lines, crossing Azerbaijan, no matter whether from the north or south, from the east to west, impact on both these and other states and we are certainly interested in development of these corridors. Noteworthy is Iran because Iran and Azerbaijan will play an important role in shortening the length of corridors, construction of new railway sections – optimization of routes. It will certainly affect the interests of other countries, including Moldova. Moldova also has a geographical position which can play an important role in shortening the route from the East to West. We are already involved in these projects. In particular, they cover EU’s railway routes from the Baltic to BlackSeas and other European main lines. We can use the potential of these routes for development of cooperation with Azerbaijan.


CE: Do you see positive things in this?

Gheorghe Leuca: Yes. Apart from this, a coordinating committee on development of the Trans-Caspian international transport route was created in February of 2014 on basis of the TRACECA program. In May of this year Moldova expressed a wish to become a member of this committee. Therefore, we would like to use all opportunities in order to join this TransCaspian route – via the ports of Georgia and Romania further in EU.

The Republic of Moldova is interested in development of such international transport routes such as Southern Corridor, Silk Road, different projects like TRACECA, AGR Interconnector, etc.

We are interested in activation of cooperation with the Azerbaijani side in the energy sphere, in particular, in activation of cooperation with SOCAR and in arranging SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev’s visit to Moldova.

Thus, we are ready to participate in all routes and one of them is (within the framework of TRACECA) a transit of separate train traffics China-Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey. We observed the launch of the first container train China-Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan with great interest in May-July 2015. Our railway sector is interested in increase of railway flow and expansion of transport routes via the Republic of Moldova, which is one of the important projects in development of transportation from China to Europe.


CE: Could you please tell in details about prospects of cooperation of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Georgia and Romania within the framework of the protocol on cooperation in the railway field signed in April?

Gheorghe Leuca: Moldovan railway is the connecting link between the CIS and South-East European countries.

Part of the international corridor Helsinki (Finland) – Saint Petersburg - Moscow – Kiev – Kisheneu- Bucharest – Dimitrovgrad (Bulgaria) – Alexandropoulos (Greece) crosses through Moldova and some sections of the Moldovan railway are parts of the international lines within the framework of the European agreement about railway main lines.

Nowadays big importance is attached to consolidation of relations with international railway administrations of other countries, which helps the railway sector of Moldova to use opportunities which arise within the framework of different organizations such as the Council for Railway Transport of CIS and Baltic states, Organization of Cooperation of Railways, European Community of Railways and Infrastructure Enterprises.

The Republic of Moldova is located between the two navigable rivers Dnestr and Prut. Container, grain and oil-loading terminals are located within the territory of the international free port Djurdjultuesht.

Two main lines Е95 and Е560 are crossing through the railway network of the Republic of Moldova within the framework of the European Agreement about international main railway lines.

Development of transportation from China to the European markets via the railway infrastructure of transit countries is one of the important projects for now.

On April 13-15 Romanian city of Konstanta hosted a meeting with participation of representatives of railway administrations of Romania, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Georgia. The purpose of the Republic of Moldova was to attract new volumes of goods for transit through the Republic of Moldova by means of railway transportation of goods from the river power Djurdjultuesht (through the seaport Konstanta). Goods which are currently transported from East to Europe within a month can be delivered there within 2 weeks.

Railway Administration of Moldova is interested in increasing of cargo flow, expansion of trans-container routes via the Republic of Moldova. An agreement about international combined cargo transportation and an agreement about cooperation in the field of railway transport are expected to be signed between the government of Moldova and the Republic of Azerbaijan in the second half of 2016.


Thank you for the interview.


Interview made by Sabina Mammadova, Emil Mammadov




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