Importance of Azerbaijan snd Central Asia in EU Energy Security

Importance of Azerbaijan snd Central Asia in EU Energy Security

Esme Özdaşlı (İİBF Uluslararası İlişkiler, Mehmet Akif Ersoy Üniversitesi, Turkey) and Diren Doğan (International Relations, Süleyman Demirel Unıversty, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1188-6.ch022
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Providing the energy security of European Union has become one of the most significant issues for European politicians and academics, especially after the Ukrainian crisis with Russia. The most critical point is the fact that there is not a common policy of EU countries concerning energy security. Individual choices of member states have more influence on the energy supply. EU's failure of developing a common policy for the security of energy supply has led to disagreement about other foreign policy issues. Different reactions among EU member states about sanctions against Russia after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 has been the most recent example. Common policy of energy security is the diversification of resources and suppliers. Accordingly, with their hydrocarbon resources, Azerbaijan and Central Asian states have become alternatives for EU.
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Along with the advances in technology, the global need for energy resources has been increasing rapidly. Cycle of life in the universe can only keep going on if all actors -including the individuals, who are the smallest actors of the system, and states, which are considered fundamental actors in the system- have steady and secure access to energy. This is why policy makers in all countries have to provide uninterrupted, secure, clean and cheap energy and absolutely diversify these resources (Pamir, 2003: 1). Energy policies are shaped as per main foreign policy principles and short-, mid- and long-term interests of states, and depending on international developments and decision-makers’ approaches; therefore, energy policies have not only economic but also strategic and political aspects (Memmedli, 2017: 207). Hence, resource-rich countries adopt policies to promote their interests by using energy as a threat for their political and strategic interests -even if they suffer economic losses (Memmedli, 2017: 207).

Ensuring energy security in the international system is essential both for the countries holding the energy resources and for the countries that lack and demand these resources. Therefore, energy, which is considered to be the main driver of the economy, cannot merely be regarded as the most important budget item for states that hold this power. Besides, maybe more importantly, this power is used as a crucial means of pressure boosting the power of deterrence in foreign policy. Inversely, it turns into a factor that restricts the ability of the countries lacking this power to maneuver in foreign policy. The EU countries could not fully implement the sanctions they put forward against Russia following the occupation of Crimea because Union countries are extremely dependent on Russian resources. Consequently, the issue of energy security, which has been high on the European agenda especially since the oil crisis of 1970s, has turned into one of the most important obstacles for the EU’s common foreign policy-making, hence further integration, as made evident by the Crimean crisis.

Giant shares of the former Soviet Republics -which became independent following the dissolution of the USSR- in the global energy pie caused many and primarily Western countries to focus on this region. In this context, Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries with their rich hydrocarbon resources were viewed as an important opportunity for the EU countries, which import a significant part of their energy needs and are extremely dependent on Russia, particularly for natural gas. However, there are a number of obstacles for the countries in the region to engage in the energy trade with the EU. Firstly, as per the policy that could be best described as “all pipelines lead to Moscow” of the communist system where everything is centrally governed, Russia has historically held the pipeline monopoly over the countries in the region. In early 1990s, it was not possible for these countries wanting to sell their resources to external markets to pursue an independent energy policy due to Russia’s domination over the “pipelines”. Consequently, these countries had to export energy to Russia far below its actual value for many years. This fact led the EU to prioritize technical assistance programs such as TACIS, INOGATE in its policy toward Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries.

This context naturally created a cooperation potential based on mutual benefit for the EU and Azerbaijan and other resource-rich Central Asian countries. Primary research topic of this study comprise on the one hand, the European Union, which aims to meet the energy demands of its member countries, to transport the demanded energy in a secure manner, and to pursue all of these energy policies on common ground across all members of the Union and on the other hand, relevant policies of Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan - at a rather micro level -, which face several marketing challenges despite the rich energy resources they have.

The study will primarily touch upon the definitions of energy and energy security concepts, chronologically address the evolution of the concept of security throughout the history, and then tackle the concept of energy security, which is just as critical as the concept of energy. These definitions will be followed by the historical evolution of the European Union’s common energy policy, an assessment of the EU policy toward former Soviet regions in the aftermath of the Cold War, with special focus on Azerbaijan and Central Asia as part of the EU’s energy security.

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