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Azerbaijan-EU: from energy partnership to strategic relations

7 September 2023 13:00 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan-EU: from energy partnership to strategic relations

By Emin Sevdimaliyev, Day.az

Among the large amount of political news that has come to the fore in the past weeks, economic news is often lost. But this is very unfair, since this news indicates current trends and a general strategy that illustrates the desired pattern for the development of Azerbaijan's relations with foreign states.

In particular, two important news, or rather statements by high-ranking officials of European countries, deserve more detailed consideration. First of all, readers may be interested in the developing position of Hungary in relation to Azerbaijani energy resources.

Hungarian Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Relations Zoltan Kovacs took an interesting position that the EU should support the expansion of gas supplies from Azerbaijan.

In a social media post, he wrote: " Foreign Minister Szijjártó said that Brussels had lost its right to influence Hungary's natural gas sources due to its refusal to finance the expansion of energy infrastructure. He stressed the need to diversify energy sources and the importance of starting gas supplies from Azerbaijan. He noted the insufficient capacity of the infrastructure of South-Eastern Europe and called on the European Union to support the expansion of supplies ."

The second statement, which is interesting in the context of Azerbaijan's role in the energy security of Europe, was made in Greece. Greek Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Fragoyannis noted the vital importance of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) for ensuring the country's energy security.

For Hungary and Greece, the problem of energy security is one of the most important, given their access to resources and the existing structural constraints in international politics.

Why is it important?

These statements are very important for Baku, as they indicate that the current situation with energy security in the EU is far from optimal. Since the emergence of structural changes in the bloc's foreign policy, the issue of energy security has become existential, on which the well-being of people and the development of the economies of the EU countries depend. Each historical epoch can be characterized by a resource that is necessary for the development and strengthening of influence. Such resources at different times were steel, oil, coal. Today, one of the most important indicators of development is energy security. The ability to offer critically needed resources to Europe is one of the many reasons why Azerbaijan has become a stronger partner for Europe.

The second reason is that the economic growth of European countries correlates with their energy security. Without ensuring its proper level, the production of products and the work of the service sector are hampered, which ultimately leads to damage to the economies of countries. The complexity of the situation for the EU also lies in the fact that the slowdown in the growth of small European countries will also affect the large members of the bloc, which may jeopardize the development of the EU.

Europe is very interested in ensuring its energy security , so the expansion of cooperation with Azerbaijan is a very profitable prospect for both sides. And if everything is obvious with Baku's interest, then Europe has very serious reasons for being interested in expanding cooperation with Azerbaijan.

Why is Europe so interested in Azerbaijani resources?

Several factors dictate the European Union's interest in Azerbaijani resources.

The fact that Azerbaijan is able to communicate with the EU countries in a "language" understandable to the countries of the bloc is one of the most important reasons. The modern history of Europe goes back to the era after the end of World War II. To prevent a repetition of the horrors of the two world wars, European countries adopted an alternative philosophy of international interaction - commercial liberalism, the main element of which is trade interaction between countries. As a result, the European Union has become one of the most influential players on the world stage, having managed to unite about 30 countries with different goals, positions and interests on a wide range of issues. And today Baku approaches relations with European countries from the same position - through the prism of cooperation and promotion of mutually beneficial solutions. And the position of Azerbaijan,

The second aspect is the diversification of supplies. In the context of the issue of diversification, Europe is guided by the principle of minimizing risks, in other words, trying to guarantee the availability of supplies if any supplier fails to fulfill its obligations. Azerbaijan offers Europe supplies from the new region, which makes such cooperation interesting for European countries.

The third is the most important factor. The EU is interested in building long-term strategic relationships with partners, and Azerbaijan is no exception. For European countries, building mutually beneficial relations in the energy sector is a "guide" to future strategic cooperation in other areas as well. One of the areas of cooperation can be the transport sector, as well as a partnership in the field of renewable energy. Both sectors are strategically important for Europe, and Azerbaijan has a lot to offer in these areas.

Given the above, the reason for the shifts in the views of European countries on the issue of cooperation with Azerbaijan becomes clear. In the understanding of Europeans, Azerbaijan has ceased to be one of the countries of the "former USSR" and has transformed into an interesting partner, cooperation with which can bring dividends and long-term benefits. This fits into the foreign policy strategy of Azerbaijan, as it allows Baku to receive financial benefits and strengthen its political positions.

This approach allows Azerbaijan to use soft levers to build relationships with foreign partners, which is a more effective and long-term method.

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