Expert points out aspects that bring Azerbaijan and the Balkans closer
European values have always drawn the attention of Azerbaijani political leaders and intelligentsia. Given the first republic in the East and Muslim World was created by Azerbaijanis, and in addition, parliament, opera, women's rights, election and so on were introduced to the Muslim world by Azerbaijanis, the country's integration in Europe should not be a surprise. Today Azerbaijan cooperates with almost all European organizations, Azerbaijani sports teams participate in European leagues, and economically Azerbaijan tightens cooperation with European countries day by day. When Azerbaijan got its independence, it invited Western companies to the country for implementing its mega oil, and later gas projects. More than 65 percent of Azerbaijan is directed to European countries.
Today, Azerbaijan has furthered its cooperation with Balkan countries as well as Eastern Europe. Mutual visits of heads of state and officials are a clear example of this. Besides, Azerbaijan's relations with the Balkan countries cover a large area, from the military industry to the energy sector. Speaking to Azernews the economist Rashad Hasanov told that the fact that economic and political relations between Azerbaijan and the Balkan countries are relatively close, is based on several factors.
“The geographical position of those countries is very important for Azerbaijan. As we know, Azerbaijan's energy products have been exported to the European markets, especially through the Balkan countries, through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the TAP, and its continuation of TANAP gas pipelines. In addition, Azerbaijan also offers its energy products, oil, and gas, to the Balkan countries. Another mega project of Azerbaijan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, deepens its economic and political relations with the Balkan countries through Turkiye,” the economist pointed out.
Hasanov also noted that another factor here stems from the model of the political behavior of these countries. He said that most of these countries are small countries and do not participate in the formation of the political orientation of the West of Europe or do not fully reflect the various values in this direction in their policies, which creates conditions for the formation of political relations more easily.
“The 3rd factor is, of course, the Turkiye. Turkiye has long-standing ties with the Balkans and the closeness of the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkiye creates conditions for the transfer of this trend to the Balkan countries through Turkiye and the expansion of bilateral relations,” he opined.
As for economic cooperation, the economist said that the volume of trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Balkan countries is not big. He noted that according to the figures for 2022, the trade turnover between the Balkan countries and Azerbaijan amounted to $200-250ms.
“Azerbaijan mainly offers gas and oil to these countries and imports agricultural and certain processing industry products from these countries. However, it must be emphasized that from the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, the new process - the formation of the green energy corridor started. With the help of this corridor Azerbaijan will export its electricity generated from renewable energy sources to the European markets. At these stages, I think that the Balkan region and the countries located there will be the main participants. Today's planning and strategic views show approximately this,” the expert added.
Qabil Ashirov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @g_Ashirov
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