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Diplomatic/Economic Relations: Caspian and South Caucasus Region

Volume 613: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2016

13. What steps his Department is taking to enhance diplomatic and economic relations with the Caspian and South Caucasus region. (905820)

The United Kingdom has strong bilateral relations with countries in the Caspian and South Caucasus region. It also has significant commercial interests there, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

To defend Europe against excessive reliance on Russian energy supplies and to provide opportunities for small British energy firms—particularly those from Scotland—will my right hon. Friend continue to encourage and support BP in its work with the Government of Azerbaijan to deliver the trans-Turkish pipeline?

Indeed. That pipeline is in the economic and strategic interests of the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend also makes a strong point about Scotland: many Scottish companies are in Azerbaijan in the wake of BP’s investment, and that is another example of how the UK and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, through our embassies, are helping to deliver for the people of Scotland.

I was in Tbilisi, in Georgia, last week with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. A number of people we spoke to were extremely concerned about the impact of the UK leaving the European Union on a lot of the diplomatic work that is going on to encourage countries such as Georgia to move towards western Europe. What assessment has the Foreign Secretary made of that issue, and what steps is he taking to persuade people in countries such as Georgia that their future lies in links with western Europe?

We were very active in the preparation for, and at, the NATO summit in Warsaw to emphasise that our commitment to working closely with countries such as Georgia to bring them into the Euro-Atlantic family of nations continues, and I think their Governments well understand that commitment.