Southern Gas Corridor: Azerbaijan has transformed from USSR’s ‘backyard’ to world’s ‘main road’ - ANALYSIS
The opening of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) is a very important geo-economic project that will have global geopolitical impacts. Above all, this project is one of the security guarantees of Azerbaijan at the time of growing geopolitical cataclysms around the world. SGC is not only a geopolitical but also a financial, economic and political security factor. This is a barrier of security against those who want to turn Azerbaijan into Syria. Finally, this gives Azerbaijan further strength in respect of the confrontation with Armenia.
Historical and geopolitical context
It is an extended continuation of a policy initiated by Azerbaijan - a policy of western investment to the Caspian basin and the Caspian resources to the European market.
This policy, founded in 1994, marked the beginning of a policy of changing the geopolitical reality formed during the USSR era. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) gas pipelines, and then the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway saved the South Caucasus region and the Caspian basin from the geopolitical status of ‘backyard.’ Thanks to these projects, the region, which turned into a blind alley in the context of USSR realities, became an international geo-center of energy and transportation. Now the “World’s Main Road”, which connects Europe with China, India and the Korean Peninsula, passes through Azerbaijan from east to west and vice-versa. The corridor that connects with the North with the South intersects the west-east corridor in Baku, making Baku one of the world’s economic-transport centers. The reality has been so firmly established that it will not be possible to alter it in the next 50-100 years.
The Southern Gas Corridor is a continuation of this policy. However, the projects we have already mentioned, including the Southern Gas Corridor, also have a deeper impact.
Context of relations with the United States
The Southern Gas Corridor means the deepening of relations between Azerbaijan and the United States, and this also goes far beyond the context of energy security. More precisely, this is a large geopolitical security architecture built on the basis of energy security. SGC also meets the U.S. interests in three regions – the Caspian Basin, the Black Sea Basin and Europe. Thus, President Ilham Aliyev brought together such forces as the U.S., Turkey and the EU with this project. The letters sent one after another by U.S. President Donald Trump which contain friendly messages and hint on U.S. rapprochement with Azerbaijan’s position on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are a result of this policy.
Context of European and intra-European politics
In the context of impacting Europe, all these projects implemented by Azerbaijan’s efforts are important factors in ensuring energy, transport, economic and national security of the EU countries.
At the same time, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is a continuation of the Southern Gas Corridor, has the ability to influence forces within the EU. This corridor strengthens Italy's economic and political position within the EU, increasing the authority of Rome. This is a far-reaching policy that is of great importance today, with a very deep history. It is a global player strategy aimed at ensuring Azerbaijan’s long-term security. This policy provides Azerbaijan and its president with the opportunity to maneuver within the EU in line with the force ratio.
This is the summarized conclusion without going into the thin details of relations within the EU: Through the policy of the Southern Gas Corridor and the TAP, President Ilham Aliyev has balanced relations with the EU by cementing the Baku-Ankara-London-Rome quadrilateral and has strengthened Azerbaijan’s position in European politics.
Azerbaijan and Turkey: ‘Policy of strengthening each other’
There is a conception that President Ilham Aliyev has declared as a fundamental principle in relations with Turkey: “We should try to strengthen each other". The Southern Gas Corridor is an example of applying this policy in reality. On 29 May 2018, President Ilham Aliyev attended the inauguration that strengthened Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s position in Turkey and that of Turkey in Europe and the world. The commissioning of the Southern Gas Corridor by President Ilham Aliyev is a serious announcement that TANAP and TAP projects, parts of the SGC, will be implemented soon. Undoubtedly, this strengthens Turkey's position in relations with Europe. The Southern Gas Corridor increases Turkey's power as an indispensable partner for Europe. Finally, the Southern Gas Corridor and TANAP increase the power of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the upcoming elections, as well as in his post-election European tour. This is Azerbaijan’s global political contribution to fraternal Turkey.
The two countries have already set undeniable foundations in their relations with these projects.
Ibrahim Mammadov, Doctor of Philosophy in History, Journalist
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