Azerbaijan International

Autumn 1995 (3.3)
Page 45

Azerbaijan and Norway
The Parallels

by Jens Stoltenberg, Norwegian Minister of Energy

Norway and Azerbaijan have many similarities: first of all, we're both small countries and, thus, have limited industrial bases. Secondly, we both have vast oil resources offshore. Thirdly, in the late 70s when we were developing our oil, we needed the competence, capital and experience of international companies to assist us but without being dominated by them. We wanted to guarantee that we as a nation would also reap major benefits.

While wanting to attract foreign companies, we wanted to develop the legal framework and taxation system so that we could develop our national industry and national petroleum at the same time. This is always the challenge-to balance between attracting and cooperating with international copanies which is quite necessary while at the same time, keeping your own national independence and gaining benefits for yourself. Azerbaijan is in the same position.

We've worked hard in Norway to create a state system so that wealth does not concentrate in the hands of a very few. We have a very strong welfare system. We're a mixed economy meaning that we're not a market-based economy. We are part of the Nordic Social Democratic Tradition and have a strong welfare state which is taking care of income distribtuion. We have progressive taxes. We have a taxation system which takes care that nobody gets cheated.

Historically, there are many ties between us, too. at the turn of the last century when the Nobel family was active in Azerbaijan, which was then under the rule of the Russian tzar, Norway and Sweden were one country. Many Norwegians were participating in this project here.

Presently, Norway and Azerbaijan cooperate with each other in the framework of three types of agreements. First of all, between our governments in relation to the Consortium contract that was signed last year. Secondly, between our scientific Board and the Azerbaijan's Academy of Science, and thirdly, between our oil companies, Statoil and SOCAR. These are the three pillars upon which we are cooperating.

Norway has now moved into the position as the second largest oil exporter in the world. Last year we were third after Saudi Arabia and Russia. We feel we have much to offer in terms of competence and income to invest which has been generated from our own oil and gas activities. Our challenge now is to use that competence and income to participate in the development of all oil provinces throughout the world. Of course, the Caspian is among the most promising these days.

From Azerbaijan International (3.3) Autumn 1995.
© Azerbaijan International 1995. All rights reserved.

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