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Azerbaijan's Aliyev shrugs off BP-Russia alliance

By CNN staff
January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Azerbaijan's president Aliyev says he is not concerned by the BP-Rosneft alliance
  • BP operates Azerbaijan's largest gas field, Shah Deniz
  • It recently became major shareholder in Russia's state oil company, Rosneft
  • Deal is reported to have raised fears of Russian influence in Azerbaijan via BP

Davos, Switzerland (CNN) -- Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has rejected suggestions that BP's new alliance with Rosneft, the Kremlin-controlled oil company, will provide scope for Russian interference in his country.

"Of course we are not concerned," Aliyev told CNN's Richard Quest during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

BP operates Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas project, a giant offshore gas field that reduces Europe's reliance on Russian gas. But the energy giant also recently became a major shareholder in the Russian state oil company.

British newspapers have reported that the BP-Rosneft deal has raised concerns in Azerbaijan that the partnership would allow Russia to exert indirect influence over its southern neighbor.

But Aliyev dismissed the notion, describing BP's relationship with his country as a "partnership."

"BP is a company which is present in Azerbaijan almost since the very beginning of our independence," he said. "It's a history of relationship for almost 20 years, and (a) very friendly relationship ... and also a relationship which will continue for at least 20 years more, because the projects we are now implementing jointly with BP are aimed at the future.

"Therefore I'm not concerned about any other issues with BP."

Aliyev told CNN his country had weathered the global economic crisis well, and was now seeking to diversify its economy.

"Our economy is very stable and we managed to develop even in the years of economic crisis. We managed to triple our GDP in less than 10 years," he said.

"My main objective now is to attract investments into the non-energy sector of Azerbaijan, particularly in high-tech, IT and services."

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