Europe's Energy Security and the Role of Azerbaijan

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Baku, 15 April 2019 –

If there is one concept that has made its mark on the last 400 years of world economic policy, it is the con­cept of security. Since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, this concept has had great significance in world politics, as well as in the world economy and human and international relations. From this viewpoint, it is hardly surprising that Henry Kissinger’s almost thousand-page tome Diplomacy, devotes a lot of space to the concept of security and its operation in international politics. Henry Kissinger, even though he urged the world’s politicians to get rid of this definition in his work, also confessed that he had had a hard time advocating that the USA, which he claims not to have adopted the concept of security as a political objective, stands distant to this understanding of "security'' in political terms.1 This understanding of security not only demands an excessive willpower, strength, intellectual prowess and constant political motivation from heads of states who wish to defend their countries’ existence in the world, but it also leads them into indecision. It may be said that the understandings and definitions of security feed on indecision, a bitter truth of Western politics.

It can be said that the understanding of security, which is one of the most discussed concepts of the 21st Century’s first two decades, a very tense time world politics, is navigating a fragile curve. It is interesting that the leading factors which have triggered the fragility arise from the very same states which have developed the current discourses of security. The European Union, which emerged as an element of unity and balance after the post-Soviet world order, is seen as a side which proliferates and questions these concerns the most. For the European Union, security as a concept is applied to all spheres of life. The world now faces the concept of "European Security'', which is advocated by adding the word security to the end of terms in almost every sphere of life; eco­nomic, politic, military, geographical, social and strategic the fore­most. Security of identity and personality was added to these discussions lately after mass migration, which sometimes reminds one of old racist expressions and displays. During a period in which security has turned into such a debatable concept, insecurity, which is clearly increasing rapidly, is also discussed in Europe. Amidst these discussions, Europe’s energy security is undoubtedly brought into question the most.

Recently, universities in many countries began offering courses titled "energy diplomacy and energy safety'', numerous studies are carried out and professions such as "energy diplomat”, "energy secu­rity expert'' started to emerge.2 As a matter of fact, energy resources in the world and in regions where they are found remain as a focal point for the political mind and they continue to shape the world’s economy-politics and nations’ for­eign politics. In this context, energy sources owned by countries influence their political weight and how they determine their strategies. For example, it can be observed how the attitudes towards the Cyprus Issue, which occupied the agenda on various platforms over the world for years, have changed since the existence of new energy deposits near the island were confirmed. Even with passing observations, it is possible to see how the energy factor changes the political language of the world’s nations, their foreign relations, meaning and values of international rela­tions on a global scale.

In light of these facts, determining Azerbaijan’s position regarding the world’s, particularly Europe’s energy security, is very important for the world energy layout. It is obvious that most references to Azerbaijan in the last couple decades in the dimensions of global economy and politics have been in connection with the energy factor. As a matter of fact, one of the highest bureaucrats of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ali Hasanov, included these statements in his book about the energy potential Azerbaijan has: "The Republic of Azerbaijan has rich energy resources, advanced fuel-energy infrastructure and an energy system fully capable of meeting Azerbaijan’s needs. As the country becomes a determinant actor in the world’s energy system, taking its place in transnational energy markets and being active in Europe’s energy security have an important influence on Azerbaijan’s global, regional, geopolitical and geo-economic position becoming stronger.''3

Today the world’s primary energy resources consist of oil, natural gas, coal and in addition nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. Since the last decade new energy resources were added to this list, such as wind and solar energy, which are rapidly increasing in usage. However, data for the last five years show that despite the wide utilisation of alternative energy resources worldwide, the need for traditional energy resources has not diminished.4 This once more shows how significant Azerbaijan, and its natu­ral energy resources, are for Europe and the world’s economy.

With the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Pipeline which was made possible as a result of intense, strained and long diplomacy during the final years of the past century and entered the phase of production by the start of the new century, Azerbaijan became a new and important actor in Europe’s energy security. After the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil pipeline, which transports 1 million barrels of oil per day, went into action in 2006, for the first-time energy resources around the Caspian region were introduced to the world market and with this, economic connections were established between Europe and the Caspian basin through Azerbaijan. Kazakhstan joining this supply line in 2008 with a supply of 500,000 barrels of oil per day and the transport of Turkmenistan’s oil through the BTC beginning in 2016 reinforced the energy cooperation between the region and world energy markets, the EU in particular. In this context, economic relations established with countries in the Caspian region and the EU through Azerbaijan have started to be con­sidered as part of energy security from the European perspective.5

The addition of natural gas projects such as TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) and TANAP (Trans-Anatolian Pipeline) to Azerbaijan’s oil projects reinforced Azerbaijan’s important position for Europe. When the issue of Ukraine, which occupied the global agenda in recent years, is taken into consideration, it can be more clearly understood how important Azerbaijan is for Europe’s energy security within the context of Europe’s natural gas supply routes.

In May 2007, an important summit was held at Krakow with the participation of the presidents of Poland, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania and Ukraine and Kazakhstan’s senior officials. At the summit, European countries, which want to be free from dependence on Russia for energy resources, voiced their intention to create a new energy integration model. The Odessa-Brody-Gdansk project discussed at the summit foresees the transport of oil brought to the Black Sea to be transferred onwards to the shores of the Baltic Sea and then to Europe and world markets.6

At the "Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007: Responsible Ener­gy for Responsible Partners'' held in Lithuania in October, the subject of creating the EU’s energy security network together with countries in the Caspian region and Eastern Europe and by this means decreasing Russia’s "energy pressure'' on countries in the region was brought up. At the conference, the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Kazakhstan signed a joint decla­ration on October 10th 2007 and agreed transport of oil from the Caspian region. The main objective of the said consortium is to realise the systems for the transport of the Caspian Sea’s resources to Europe and international markets through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Poland.7 In the joint press conference held by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on July 14th 2016 after their bilateral meetings, the role of South Caucasian and Eastern Europe countries in the energy security of the world, especially of Europe and the necessity of considering these countries a part of Europe were emphasised.8

In light of these facts, it can be said that Azerbaijan and the Caspian to establish a new cobasin have a key role in diversifying Europe’s energy supply. In this context the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Ukraine route and the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route appear as concrete projects. Without doubt, Azerbaijan’s close strategic connections with the countries on these two routes create geo-strategic and geo-politic synergies from the view­point of energy supplier countries. The fact that Azerbaijan and Turkey signed the agreement regarding the TANAP project in 2012 and the TAP project was chosen as the continuation of TANAP in 2013 is an important matter which should not be overlooked in this context. The partnership agreement for the TANAP project, which will transport natural gas to be extracted in the second phase of the Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz 2 natural gas basin’s exploitation was signed on March 13th 2015 in Ankara. The transport volume, which initially determined to be 16 billion cubic metres per year, will increase gradually to 24 billion and then to 31 billion cubic metres. In fact, the 1850 km-long TANAP line constitutes the first step of the two lines to be connected to TAP by early 2020 and will transport the Caspian natural gas it receives through the South Caucasia Pipeline to Europe through Greece, Albania and Italy. In the TANAP board meeting held on March 29th 2018, it was announced that the project’s Turkey leg was 99 per cent complete.9

The inauguration ceremony of TANAP, which is a giant project worth USD 8 billion, was held in Eskisehir on June 12th 2018 with the participa­tion of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.10

The 878 km long TAP project, which constitutes the European part of the project, was connected to the TANAP line on the Turkish-Greek border in Kipoi and goes on towards southern Italy, through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea.11

In addition, with the AGRI (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector) Natural Gas Pipeline and TCP (Trans-Caspian Pipeline), which are still in the planning phase, Azerbaijan will become a country which reinforces its importance in Europe’s energy politics even further. This also means that Azerbaijan’s unifying role between Europe and the Caspian Region will be reinforced. It is foreseen that the Trans-Caspian Pipeline will be 300 kilometres long through the Caspian Sea and have a capacity of 32 billion cubic metres per year. It is planned to connect the natural gas pipeline with the Sangachal terminal in Azerbaijan and then to the European natural gas network through the TANAP and TAP pipelines. During the first stage of the project, its capacity is expected to be 8 billion cubic metres.12

The TCP can be considered a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which is a project to transport the natural gas resources of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and in the future Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, to Europe.13 As a matter of fact, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, in his speech in the Southern Gas Corridor 5th Advisory Board meeting held in Baku on February 20th 2019, said that the Southern Gas Corridor is a Diversification Project from the viewpoint of energy consumer countries, indicating that most important finance organisations are supporting the project and the project is changing the Europe’s energy supply layout.14

Today, the European Union relies on external sources for 82 per cent of its oil demand and 57 per cent of its natural gas demand. The European Union’s first energy politics concept was approved in a meeting held in London on October 27th 2005. Two main topics were brought forward in this approved Europe Strategic Plan:

1) Durability of Europe’s energy politics

2) Security of Europe’s energy politics15

The European Union procured various agreements with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Algeria in the field of energy field within the framework of European Neigh­bourhood Policy and in terms of its adopted energy strategy.

Azerbaijan’s share in supplying the EU’s oil and natural gas demand approaches 10 per cent. Russia sup­plies 23 per cent, Norway supplies 18 per cent and Algeria supplies 10 per cent of its natural gas. On the other hand, according to rel­evant organisations’ reports, it is estimated that Europe’s natural gas demand will increase up to 700 billion cubic metres by the year 2030. Another factor that demands attention in these reports is the importance of the Caspian Sea basin countries in Europe’s energy politics, which will increase sig­nificantly from 2020 onwards. For example, between the years 2020-2030, it is planned that a total of 13 billion cubic metres of natural gas will be transported from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to Europe.16 While it is true that this amount is not that much considering Europe’s total demand, if the amount of energy received from the Caspian Basin is examined on the basis of Euro­pean countries, a completely different situation can be observed. For example, some countries in Europe procure a substantial part of their energy demand from countries in the Caspian region. In light of these facts, the regional effect of Caspian energy resources can be seen from the viewpoint of Europe.

A significant point is that despite Russia’s increase in production, its share in total is gradually decreasing. The results of Europe’s strategy for diversifying its sources of natural gas supply can be seen here once more.17

It was only very recently that Azerbaijan became an active country in Europe’s energy security. The first agreement between the two parties as part of energy politics was signed in 2011. From the perspective of Europe’s energy politics, projects which will become operational in the near future and will be of global significance for Europe’s energy security such as TANAP signed between Azerbaijan and Turkey in 2012, TAP which was signed in 2014 and Shah Deniz 2, are all projects which were put in motion recently and are still underway. It appears that concrete results of these projects will influ­ence the importance of Azerbaijan in Europe’s energy politics positively in near future.

Shah Deniz 2, TANAP and TAP are accepted as the largest energy projects in the world. Given that USD 45 billion was invested in the project and more than 30,000 new jobs were created, this project has will influence other econom­ic fields, aside from being just an energy project.

When all of this considered, it is possible to say that a new, more comprehensive understanding of security between Europe and Azerbaijan will open up new fields for itself by the year 2020 with regard to the future of the relationships. Consequently, the inclusion of the Caspian Basin under the scope of European security stands as the most important development of the near future.

What should be questioned in this context is the advantages parties will gain from the viewpoint of their energy security and how suc­cessful they will be in transmitting these advantages to other fields. Whether the economic relations between the parties arising from the energy dimension will carry on to new areas in later stages is of great significance. For a clearer example: Given the relations established between Europe and Azerbaijan over energy security, will Europe come to consider ensuring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which is the producer party in this security relationship, and the return of regions which are occupied by Armenia through diplomatic and peaceful means as part of its understanding of energy security? Until now, even though Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity was supported in the decisions and documents of all of the world’s most important organisations and institutions, Azerbaijan did not receive the principled, strong support it expected from Europe.

When all this is considered, it can be observed that the world is just at the beginning of the creation of a new understanding of security. This understanding of security, which started as one-dimensional (meaning indexed to energy), may be expected to create its own social, political, humanistic and geographical alternatives in time. This may lead to the problem of security, which today generally conjures up problems experienced sometimes in binary relations and sometimes within the EU due to one-sided approaches and may create an opportunity to transform the matter into a new form that take account of the regional sensitivities of Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Dr. Elsevar Salmanov


1. Kissinger Henry, Diplomasi, İbrahim H. Kurt (trans.)0, Türkiye İş Bankası Yayınları, İstanbul 2000, p. 10

2. In Azerbaijan too, "Energy Diplomacy in Modern World Politics'' is taught as a separate discipline. See Bkz. Azerbaycan Devlet İktisat Üniversitesi "Müasır Dünya Siyasetinde Enerji Diplomatiyası'' fenninin programı, S.M.Gözelova, Baku 2011.

3. Hasanov Ali, Azerbaycan Respublikasının Milli İnkişaf ve Tehlükesizlik Siyaseti, Bakı: Letterpress Neşriyyat Evi, 2011, p. 109.

4. Şirinli Qaraxan, Azerbaycanın enerji Tehlükesizliyi ve Onun Teminatı, Azerbaycan Dövlet İktisad Universiteti Magistr Dissertasiyası (Unpublis­hed Master’s Thesis), Baku 2015, pp. 49-50.

5. Abbaszade Sarıtel, Turkey-Azerbaijan Relations from the viewpoint of Enegy Geography, Ondokuz Mayıs University Institute of Social Sciences Master’s Thesis, Samsun 2018, pp. 48-49.

6. Atakişiyev R, "Azerbaycan-Türkiye igtisadi elaqeleri son illerin tehlilinde''. EcoVision Magazine, Issue: 22, 2008, pp. 88-89

7. ibid, p.89

8. Pipeline Technology Journal. Odessa-Brody Pipeline Project To be Revived. Accessed: March 20th 2018. odessa-brody-pipeline-project-be-revived

9. The State Oil company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). News Archive. Accessed: 20 March 2018

10. SOCAR Turkey, the Silk Road of Energy, TANAP has opened. 13 June 2018. haber­ler/2018/06/12/enerjinin-ipek-yolu-tanap-acildi

11. Trans Adriatic Pipeline. Trans Adriatic Pipeline is 50 % Completed. Acces­sed: 27 March 2018 t r a n s - a d r i a t i c - p i p e l i n e - i s - 5 0 - c o m p l e t e d ; Trans Adriatic Pipeline. Trans Adriatic Pipeline Route. Accessed: 27 March 2018

12. Trans Caspian Pipeline. Plan of Work. Accessed: 30 March 2018 http://

13. Trans Caspian Pipeline. The TCP-A Project of Common Interest. Accessed: 30 March 2018

14. "Bakıda Cənub Qaz Dehlizi Meşveret Şurası çerçivesinde nazirlerin beşinci toplantısı keçirilib. Azerbaycan Prezidenti İlham Aliyev toplantida iştirak edib” – Accessed 20.02.2019: 18.11. Bakida_Cenub_Qaz_Dehlizi_Mesveret_Surasi_cherchivesinde_nazirlerin_ besinci_toplantisi_kechirilib__Azerbaycan_Prezidenti_Ilham_Aliyev_top­lantida_istirak_edib._248497?fbclid=IwAR0jjvAp1sPbPpUBZPQtNm8pbyo lrz7FppjzOcL4m3MWJ7zFMNe0RKdf9iM

15. İbrahimova H.Günel, Avropanın Enerji Siyaseti, Bakı: Bakı Dövlet Univer­siteti, 2010, pp. 12-15.

16. Bahışov N.Ç., "Avropa İttifaqının enerji Tehlükesizliyinin Temin Edilme­sinde Azerbaycanın Transregional Gaz Layihelerinin Rolu'', Maliyye ve uçot, Baku 2010, No: 1, pp. 45-46.

17. Ibid, p. 46.

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