The Energy-Focused Relations Between Azerbaijan and the European Union After the Russia-Ukraine War

11.08.2023

Relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union began to develop in a wide range after Azerbaijan gained its independence in 1991. Due to Azerbaijan’s strategic location and energy resources in the Caucasus region, it has become a significant partner for the European Union. In the relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union, the energy field has a strategic importance. As a country with abundant energy resources, Azerbaijan has a significant position as a partner for the European Union in terms of energy supply security and diversification. The Azerbaijan-EU relationship encompasses economic and political dimensions in addition to energy issue. There are numerous agreements between the parties. For example, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which transports gas extracted from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz natural gas field to Greece, Albania, and Italy through Türkiye, is a joint project between Azerbaijan and the EU. The Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) and the merger of the South Caucasus Pipeline and TAP have completed the strategic project called the Southern Gas Corridor. Through these projects, the European Union is diversifying its energy sources by importing natural gas from Azerbaijan.

Russia, as one of the world’s largest producers of natural gas and oil, is a critical supplier for the EU’s energy security. The European Union imports a significant part of its energy consumption from Russia, while Russia supports its economy with the income from energy exports. However, this situation makes the European Union dependent on Russia for energy and limits the organization’s political activities. Russia exports natural gas to Europe largely through Ukraine. The long-standing conflicts between Ukraine and Russia and the current war make this energy trade process highly tense. While the European Union strives to ensure the security and sustainability of the gas infrastructure passing through Ukraine, Russia seeks to direct its energy policy in accordance with its political and commercial objectives. Energy can be interpreted as a cause or consequence of political tensions between Russia and the European Union. In particular, recent political crises or different political goals negatively affect energy cooperation and cause disagreements between the parties. The European Union has imposed several sanctions against Russia because of its occupation of Ukrainian territory. The European Union has imposed several sanctions against Russia because of its occupation of Ukrainian territory. The goal is to weaken the Russian economy and stop the aggression against Ukraine. However, this situation has resulted in crises in both EU countries and Russia. The energy crisis stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war has led to rapid increases in energy prices across the European Union and beyond. To deal with Russia’s manipulation of the energy market, the European Commission proposed measures across the EU in September 2022. These measures aim to reduce energy consumption in specific circumstances. This approach seeks to alleviate pressure in the energy market and ensure more efficient use of energy resources during times of crisis. EU countries have taken steps such as reopening coal-fired power plants and postponing the closure of nuclear power plants, driven by the belief that short-term solutions are needed to meet energy demand. However, such policies raise environmental concerns due to increased dependence on fossil fuels. The diverse applications of energy resources lead to both competition and collaboration on the international stage to focus on energy. States striving to gain the upper hand in energy competition carry out various efforts to develop the energy resources in their own territories. On the other hand, countries that do not have sufficient energy resources develop projects to ensure secure energy trade with energy-owning states.

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