Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio, has been one of the most cogent voices on Capitol Hill in educating his colleagues about the importance of Azerbaijan as a strategic U.S. ally. And as chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly, his voice is closely heeded.

Mr. Turner in 2013 paved the way for a bipartisan resolution putting the U.S. House of Representatives on record that it is in the U.S. national interest to support the Southern Gas Corridor, a pipeline project that would help send natural gas from Azerbaijan to key allies across Europe to lessen their energy dependence on Russia and other countries.

The Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan is one of the world’s largest gas fields, with over 30 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

In a statement on the House floor, Mr. Turner explained why the pipeline project was more than an economic opportunity for the Caspian Sea region.

“The Southern Gas Corridor will contribute to regional energy security for our allies in Europe and Eurasia, and help to strengthen our strategic partnership. Many of our allies are reliant upon natural gas supplies from a single nation or unstable regions. Ensuring our allies have access to an alternative and reliable source of energy will help improve geopolitical stability in the region,” he said.

Mr. Turner, a member of the Azerbaijan Congressional Caucus, also has frequently highlighted Azerbaijan’s direct assistance to the United States since winning its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijan has unequivocally joined the war against terrorism, become one of the few Muslim countries to openly support Israel and given America a reliable inteleligence and military ally sandwiched between Iran and Russia, he has said.

“The ongoing unrest in Ukraine is a stark reminder that the United States must enhance our strategic partnerships as a buffer against Russia’s intentions,” he noted in one speech praise .

In a floor speech last May commemorating th 96th anniversary of the country’s founding, Mr. Turner praised Azerbaijan for its willingness to engage America and to spread its energy wealth across Europe to create stability in turbulent times.

“Azerbaijan continues to be an important partner with the United States in counter-terrorism efforts and initiatives to bolster energy security with strategic allies. With its vast resources of oil and gas, Azerbaijan is a key component to help our strategic allies in NATO and other European countries diversify their energy resources,” he noted.

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