Azerbaijan`s oil strategy: Contract of the Century as the beginning of a successful path

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Baku, 1 October 2019 –

Signed in 1994, the world-famous Contract of the Century is one of the sources of pride for the Azerbaijani people. President Ilham Aliyev highlighted this fact in his speech at the ceremony to mark 25th anniversary of Contract of the Century and Oil Workers Day. The head of state reiterated the strategic and geopolitical significance of the project. In their letters to the Azerbaijani President, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, UK Secretary of State for International Trade & President of the Board Trade Elizabeth Truss and UK Minister for Europe and the Americas Christopher Pincher stressed very important points in this regard. It`s obvious that these major powers are interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan and highly appreciate the policy pursued by the country`s leadership. This article will provide a geopolitical analysis of the Contract of the Century as a crucial element of Azerbaijan`s oil strategy.

25 years ago: Benefits of great leader`s farsightedness and political resoluteness

Azerbaijan`s international influence is growing rapidly. Developed countries place a great emphasis on cooperation with Azerbaijan. Special words of praise go to ''The Contract of the Century'' signed by Azerbaijan in 1994. The letters received by the President of Azerbaijan from the US and UK on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the document featured interesting points in this regard.

In a congratulatory letter sent to President Ilham Aliyev, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said: ''Over the past quarter century, the United States has been a stalwart partner in Azerbaijan’s efforts to develop its domestic energy resources, contribute to European and global energy security, and chart its course as an independent nation. By signing this contract with Western firms in 1994 and constructing the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Azerbaijan became a major supplier of oil to world markets and pioneered the first direct energy link between the Caspian and the Mediterranean seas.''

The letter pointed out two important features regarding Azerbaijan`s foreign policy. Firstly, Washington admits that Azerbaijan has been pursuing an independent policy over the past 25 years. Pompeo means that Azerbaijan managed to build an independent foreign policy as a sovereign state, and he hailed the country`s contribution to global politics and international cooperation.

Secondly, the US Secretary of State praised Azerbaijan as a major supplier of oil to world markets and pioneer of the first direct energy link between the Caspian and the Mediterranean seas. It is a very important statement since it points to the United States` geopolitical approach to the Contract of the Century. This approach embraces global energy security and transport corridors where first direct energy link between the Caspian and the Mediterranean seas is a crucial element.

Interestingly, Pompeo associated this with two other important issues in his letter. He writes: "Azerbaijan is once again playing a pioneering role, this time in the form of natural gas exported through the Southern Gas Corridor, which makes a strategic contribution to Europe’s energy security. As President Trump noted in his letter to you on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition, we fully support your efforts and believe Azerbaijan’s economic success is important for the stability and prosperity of the region.'' Washington fully recognizes Azerbaijan`s strategic contribution to global energy security. The Azerbaijani leadership`s energy policy is going far beyond borders of the country, contributing significantly to efforts to address globally important issues. And it is of crucial importance for stability and prosperity in the South Caucasus.

Cooperation prospects: Azerbaijan is the most reliable partner

In fact, this statement by Pompeo destroyed Armenia`s long-term biased, unfounded and primitive anti-Azerbaijani propaganda. The US Secretary of State shows that Azerbaijan is playing a crucial and strategic role in ensuring stability and development in the region. So despite the Armenian leadership`s eagerness to hide the truth, the world knows everything very well. It should be admitted that it is a triumph of the Azerbaijani diplomacy.

Another important factor highlighted by Pompeo is that the Azerbaijani leadership`s successful energy policy encourages cooperation between the two countries in other areas too. ''Our successful energy cooperation has contributed positively to our strategic relationship, which also encompasses economic cooperation, a security partnership, and our continuing engagement on human rights, fundamental freedoms, and democratic governance,'' the US Secretary of State writes.

Washington strongly believes in strategic cooperation with Azerbaijan and is interested in working together in economic, security, human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic governance areas. This means that the US recognizes the effectiveness of Azerbaijan`s programs to improve democratic governance and build civil society. These factors play a crucial role at the modern stage.

Pompeo said: ''The United States looks forward to continuing and deepening our work together in all of these areas. Please accept my congratulations on the anniversary of this important milestone.''

His words were echoed by Elizabeth Truss and Christopher Pincher from the United Kingdom. ''We look forward to our continued collaboration going from strength to strength and we once again congratulate you, the Government of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani people, SOCAR, BP, and the United Kingdom business community in Azerbaijan for making this historic occasion possible.''

In addition to the US, the United Kingdom also looks at energy cooperation with Azerbaijan from a geopolitical perspective. This shows that Azerbaijan maintains close strategic cooperation with the developed part of the world. And it has been possible thanks to the Azerbaijani leadership`s very effective policy, which meets modern requirements.

From this point of view President Ilham Aliyev`s speech at the ceremony to mark 25th anniversary of Contract of the Century and Oil Workers Day are of particular interest: "The Contract of the Century is an integral part, the beginning of the oil strategy of great leader Heydar Aliyev. Thanks to the courage and wisdom of Heydar Aliyev, Azerbaijan was able to assert itself in the world. For the first time in history, foreign companies began to participate in the development of oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea. As a result of the signing of the "Contract of the Century", tens of thousands of jobs were created. Thousands of companies in Azerbaijan are involved in the implementation of this contract as contractors. In other words, the Contract of the Century is of great benefit.”

This proves that the Contract of the Century, which major powers put emphasis on, is an integral part of the well thought-out and systematic policy. These characteristics made this policy advantageous for many nations. The signing of the contract shows that Azerbaijan is a sovereign and independent state, the country`s natural resources are fully owned by the people of Azerbaijan. And it is the people and wise leadership of Azerbaijan who decide how to use these resources.

On the other hand, the Contract of the Century demonstrated to the world that Azerbaijan is moving forward resolutely on the path to build an independent and democratic state. There is no doubt that this process will continue and the country will achieve renewed success.

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