Azerbaijan’s Centrality in Geostrategic Role of the Caspian Highlighted in Paris Conference
This is proving to be a pivotal time for Azerbaijan to demonstrate its importance to the South Caucasus region.
That notion was at the crux of a panel discussion last week in Paris at the headquarters of the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale (SEIN), a non-governmental organization which has supported the growth of industry since 1852.
Azerbaijan is currently in the midst of an energy revolution. The development of the Shah Deniz II full-field development has led to the $45 billion Southern Energy Corridor, which will see gas piped through the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to an Italian interconnector, representing supply diversity for much of Europe, and away from overreliance on Russian resources. Sixteen billion cubic meters of gas will be pumped to Turkey every year, and then Europe, by 2018 and 2020, respectively. The corridor has the potential to carry up to 31 billion cubic meters.
“This is an important time to hear about the strategic importance of the Caspian Sea,” said Marie-Laetitia Gourdin, director of TEAS (The European Azerbaijan Society) France. “Azerbaijan is a major partner of the EU, located in the Caspian, and it has established many business and commercial relationships with EU member countries.”
“The development of the Eurasian Economic Union since 2012 has resulted in Russia unleashing its power in the region, and Russia and Kazakhstan – two littoral states in the Caspian Region – are members of the EEU,” said Oktay Tanrisever, a professor at METU-Turkey, specializing in regional security, energy and the environment. “However, Azerbaijan has demonstrated its ability to pursue an independent policy.”
“We are in favor of greater economic integration, but this doesn’t really exist in the Caspian region,” said Jane Amilhat, deputy head of the Russia–CIS unit at the European Commission. “The countries need to be integrated with the world monetary market, and Azerbaijan is coming closer to this. The EU is seeking market integration, energy security and supply diversification and hence the Caspian region is particularly important to us.”