VIENNA, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- A joint declaration on natural gas between the European Union and Azerbaijan paves the way toward starting the Nabucco gas project, the consortium announced.
Europe aims to break the Russian stranglehold on the regional energy sector by moving non-Russian gas through the Nabucco pipeline, which forms part of the planned Southern Corridor of planned transit networks.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, signed a joint declaration on gas delivery for Europe during a Thursday meeting with Azeri President Illham Aliyev in Baku.
Barroso described the agreement as a "major breakthrough" for European energy security and projects in the Southern Corridor. Baku agreed to supply "substantial volumes of gas" for European consumers, the EC said.
Nabucco enjoyed widespread political support from European member states despite Russia moving ahead with its rival Nord Stream and South Stream projects that avoid politically sensitive transit networks in Ukraine.
The pipeline planned through Turkey, however, struggled to get potential supplier nations to formally commit to the project. Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of the Nabucco pipeline consortium in Vienna, hailed the agreement as a milestone for his project.
The declaration, he said in a statement, "serves to pave the way to the full implementation of Nabucco by providing a firm political basis for gas supply from Azerbaijan."