Victorious Azerbaijan set to continue international integration despite challenges

20 November 2020 11:00 (UTC+04:00)

By Vafa Ismayilova

Despite all challenges that Azerbaijan had to confront with during the 44-day hostilities with Armenia, the country proved that it is set to go ahead with all international projects it is involved in. Against the background of Azerbaijan’s glaring victory in the war with Armenia, the start of commercial operations in the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) opens up new opportunities from the standpoint of the country’s prospects to ensure the security and reliability of the regional and global energy projects.

Azerbaijan, which is distinguished for its active role in international economic, political and energy relations, has long been involved in the project that meets the West’s interests as well. The country, which has prioritized the strategy of expanding the opportunities of integrating into the world, has made great progress in this field.

Gas deliveries from Azerbaijan to Europe

A recent statement from BP Azerbaijan said that TAP’s completion will allow commencing first gas deliveries from Azerbaijan to Europe by the end of 2020.

“This will allow us to commence first gas deliveries from Azerbaijan to Europe by the end of this year, achieving a significant target we have promised to deliver since the start of this major project,” BP Azerbaijan said.

The company added that with the completion of the final leg of the Southern Gas Corridor this giant system is now fully integrated and ready for gas supplies to Europe.

“As a shareholder in TAP, BP welcomes this important milestone. TAP’s completion enables the full realization of one of the biggest gas developments in the world – Shah Deniz 2 and the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) – projects which will change the energy map of the entire region by connecting gas supplies from the Caspian to markets in Europe for the first time,” the company said.

It congratulated the TAP Consortium on this great achievement.

“We are proud to have worked with SOCAR and many other partners across many countries to safely and successfully bring to life high-quality transformational projects,” said BP Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, the Energy Ministry said that TAP, as another energy link connecting Azerbaijan with Europe, will strengthen Azerbaijan's strategic role in the spheres of energy security, cooperation and sustainable development.

"As a new transmission system operator, developed and built-in compliance with the best industry practices and standards, TAP enables double diversification:  a new, reliable and sustainable energy route and source of gas reaching millions of European end-users, for decades to come," TAP's Managing Director Luca Schieppati said.

The TAP AG consortium described the completion of the pipeline's construction and the commencement of commercial operations as important steps in the commissioning of the Southern Gas Corridor.

Moreover, Chairman of TAP's Board of Directors Murad Heydarov noted that the Southern Gas Corridor is one of the most modern and reliable systems currently available for transporting energy.

"As a key component of the 3,500-km Southern Gas Corridor, TAP combines strategic and market competitive features. It ensures that Europe can receive supplies from yet another source while supporting the key EU objectives of achieving an integrated energy market, and a sustainable, secure and diversified energy mix, contributing to ongoing streams towards clean energy transition," he added.

The Southern Gas Corridor is an initiative of the European Commission for a natural gas supply route from Caspian and Middle Eastern regions to Europe. The route from Azerbaijan to Europe consists of the South Caucasus Pipeline, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and TAP.

Four and a half years after the inauguration of construction works in Thessaloniki, TAP, an 878-km gas transportation system crossing Greece, Albania, the Adriatic Sea and Italy, began commercial operations.

 The deputy head of the Public Relations and Event Management Department, Ibrahim Ahmadov, noted that this project will become an additional source of revenue for Azerbaijan.

The Southern Gas Corridor will provide a new gas supply source for Europe and make a significant contribution to the energy security and diversification of energy supply routes, he added.

Armenian attack on BTC oil pipeline

In early October, as part of its armed attacks against Azerbaijan, Armenia fired a forbidden cluster missile at the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline leading to a dangerous situation around the South Caucasus Pipeline and the Western Export Pipeline. The bomb landed 10 metres away from the pipeline. Over 300 cluster bomblets ejected around as a result of the attack. It should be noted that the South Caucasus Pipeline is one of the key sections of the Southern Gas Corridor.

Azerbaijan and the EU signed a Joint Declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor, in Baku, back in 2011. As a result, Azerbaijan has found itself in a considerably stronger situation in its relations with the European bloc, as the ability to define the shape and future of the Southern Corridor provides it with greater leverage in dealings with Brussels and EU member state capitals. Indeed, Azerbaijan’s progressively significant role in transnational energy markets, as well as its active contribution to Europe’s energy security, have an important influence on its global, regional, geopolitical and geo-economic position.

The implementation, execution and realization of any major pipeline strategies are exceedingly complicated, requiring effective organization, high-level technical skills, meaningful international collaboration, attention to detail, along with cautious stakeholder consultation. Despite all these challenges and difficulties, TAP continued to progress on schedule and it completed successfully. With the final implementation of TAP, Azerbaijan contributed to the strengthening of Europe’s energy stability, helping to progressively decarbonize the local economies, as well as enabling much-needed gas supply diversification across the region.

EU support to rehabilitate de-occupied lands

It should be noted that in the context of the current international relations,  the Western countries give special importance to Azerbaijan’s integration to Europe and their interests are not limited only with their countries’ dependence on energy. Azerbaijan has declared the universal values like the exchange of cultures, tolerance and multiculturalism to be an integral part of its integration into the world.

Azerbaijan seems to continue its cooperation with the EU in the rehabilitation of its de-occupied lands. The European Union (EU) has recently voiced its support for further reconstruction and construction work in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Expert of the EU Commission for Humanitarian Aid Operations and European Civil Protection Nicholas Howarth made similar remarks during an online meeting with Deputy Chairman of the Azerbaijani State Committee for Refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP) Fuad Huseynov.

“The purpose of the mission is to discuss humanitarian cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan, and to define the form of EU assistance to support future reconstruction and construction work in the Nagorno-Karabakh region,” Howarth said.

Moreover, he added that the mission will examine the needs of IDPs and civilians affected by the war and determine how the EU will support these families.

Huseynov stressed at the meeting that the de-occupied territories had been completely destroyed for about 30 years and had become uninhabitable.

Before the tensions in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan also managed to present the high-quality agricultural products as a tool of its international integration. Possibly, after rehabilitating its regions liberated from occupation, Azerbaijan can make an even greater contribution to this sphere.

Integration to a green economy

Back in July 2020, the EU expressed its support for Azerbaijan’s integration to a green economy.

In the regard, the EU funded the project on strengthening consulting services in the field of agriculture in Azerbaijan, which is designed for 26 months.

Melek Chakmak, Head of the FAO Partnership and Liaison Office in Azerbaijan, stated this.

"The goal of this project is to support the efforts of the government on developing a strategy for an effective and sustainable joint system of agricultural consulting services that will be able to respond better to current and future problems in the agricultural sector and, ultimately, more efficiently provide services in rural areas," Chakmak noted.

"Our task is to help the Azerbaijani government and rural service providers modernize operating systems, processes and services that are more focused and relevant to increase farm incomes while protecting and improving the natural environment," she said.

Chakmak concluded that the FAO also supports Azerbaijan in achieving its priorities under the Sustainable Development Goals.

Azerbaijan has been a member of the FAO since 1995. The organization’s office in the country has been operating since 2007.

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