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What makes Azerbaijan important for US and Europe? - opinions

2 June 2023 12:30 (UTC+04:00)
What makes Azerbaijan important for US and Europe?  - opinions
Qabil Ashirov
Qabil Ashirov
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With the grandiose victory over Armenia in the 44-day war and mega oil and gas projects, Azerbaijan’s importance increased drastically. Especially the geopolitical situation regarding to the Russo-Ukraininan conflict forced to change vectors of politics for Europe - directing all attentions towards Azerbaijan. The strength and importance of Azerbaijan grew to such an extent that the countries which previously overlooked Armenian aggression and terror against Azerbaijanis have been encouraged to act as a guarantor for peace between two countries. Now, the leaders of the world, especially European countries voice solidarity with Azerbaijan.

In a comment for Azernews on the issue, political analyst Samir Humbatov noted that the reason that makes Azerbaijan so important for Europe is because of both geopolitical and geostrategic situations.

"From a geopolitical point of view, it is important because recently, especially after the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan has a growing influence in the region and the world. Azerbaijan's active participation in many regional and international platforms, and hosting them, have made Azerbaijan a special key country for the region," the pundit said.

He pointed out that strategically it is important because Russia reduced oil and gas sales to Europe and the European demand for energy is increasing against the background of the Russian-Ukrainian war. He opined that this process could lead to serious crises in Europe. Therefore, Azerbaijan becomes an alternative for Europe to get rid of its especially energy issue.

"Another importance of Azerbaijan is that in the last six months, Azerbaijan has accelerated work in the field of alternative and renewable energy that is planned to export to Europe, as well. This will be one of the key factors that will have a certain impact on reducing Europe's dependence on both oil and gas," Humbatov said.

He added that the Russo-Ukrainian war will eventually mean the hampering of Russia to influence the West. As a result, Russia will turn its face to the East and the South Caucasus. He emphasized that in this case, European countries fear that Russia may try to strengthen itself in the South Caucasus. Especially using the Karabakh factor, that is, the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan has not yet been signed. There is a possibility that such an agreement can be signed in the near future. This means that the weight of the EU will decrease in the South Caucasus, or in the worst case, it will keep the EU out the South Caucasus. Regarding this, the EU wants to achieve peace in the region. He underscored that if peace is achieved, it will also be cheaper to transport energy to Europe.

"The Minsk Group was ineffective for 30 years because the Minsk Group did not have an interest in resolving the conflict. Therefore, they approached the issue differently. Now the conflict in Karabakh is over. The issue of signing a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan is already being discussed. At the same time, the Russian-Ukrainian war has been going on for more than a year, and against the background of the above-mentioned is the energy crisis that Russia has inflicted on the West. Taken together, all these issues lead to an even greater increase in the West's interest in Azerbaijan," he said.

According to the pundit, European countries understand well that Azerbaijan is interested in cooperation with Russia, but it does not want Russia's dominance in the region. Azerbaijan wants to use its sovereign rights and the opportunities given to it by international law in a meaningful way. In other words, it does not want to do something under the dictates of Russia and other forces.

"This is one of the main reasons for our recent tensions with Iran. In other words, because Azerbaijan does not want the dominant position of other states in the region, it resists them in a way. Azerbaijan maintains its strength. For example, Russia once occupied the territory of Georgia - Abkhazia and Ossetia. However, today the Georgian authorities have loyalty to Russia, and this is very tangible. Georgia has has strong ties with Russia while its territories under its occupation. However, Azerbaijan has a different approach. Azerbaijan already got what it wanted. Today, Azerbaijan has fulfilled its wish with the establishment of the checkpoint on the Lachin road. Note that the Russian peacekeeping contigent will completely leave the region, which will be decided on November 10, 2025. The process is long and we should not think that the processes will be solved in a day. That is why the political, economic, and military development of Azerbaijan is in the interest of Europe," he concluded.

As for economic importance, speaking to Azernews Economist Natig Jafarly mentioned that relations between Azerbaijan and the EU countries have a history almost as old as independence. He said that after Azerbaijan gained independence, the beneficiary and participant of mega energy and other big projects were implemented by the companies of the EU countries, mainly British companies, which are not part of the EU but are the leading European country.

"Companies from other countries also participated in the consortium. In other words, in the history of our independence, there is almost an overlapping relationship algorithm. Recently, the importance of Azerbaijan has increased significantly compared to previous years. The increase in geopolitical tensions, ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, and all these events have repeatedly increased the importance of Azerbaijan in terms of energy and logistics. Azerbaijan is either the owner or a participant in large infrastructure projects. For example, Azerbaijan became the main participant and founder of giant projects such as TANAP and TAP. As a result, it already supplies 10 billion cubic meters of gas to EU countries every year. From the point of view of Europe's consumption, it is per capita for small countries in southern and eastern Europe, although in this respect it is not a large number. It is extremely important because those countries were more dependent on Russian gas. It is planned to double this volume by 2027, which means 20-22 billion cubic meters of natural gas," the economist pointed.

He said that this is a noticeable volume for EU countries. This led to the closer development of relations between Azerbaijan and the EU. He emphasized that, in addition, the EU countries, Britain, and the USA have huge investments in Azerbaijan. We are talking about tens of billion of investments.

"It is true that these investments are mainly in the energy sector. However, interest in other sectors is growing, albeit slowly. All this indicates that Azerbaijan's relations with the West are ripe for transition to a new stage. It is likely that this stage will end with the signing of a new strategic cooperation project between Azerbaijan and the EU. The work is almost finished. Some 90-95 percent of the issues have been resolved and the negotiations are going on intensively. It can be assumed that a new agreement will be signed between the EU and Azerbaijan, which will create conditions for the further expansion of trade, economic and political relations. All this, along with the increase in the importance of Azerbaijan, causes the country to gain more supporters in international relations where it is right in particular regarding to issues with Armenia," he added.

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