"Azerbaijan does not recognize the occupation policy of Russia" - comments from Baku
Azerbaijan is set to double its exports of natural gas to Europe against the backdrop of what experts in Baku on Russian-Azerbaijani relations dub Russia’s “occupation policy”.
But in spite of this doubling of volume to EU nations, Azerbaijani gas will meet only 4% of the needs of these states, in the opinion of Azeri experts speculating on the Russian threat. According to doctor of political science Dzhumshud Nuriev, Russian provocations can even move from Central Asia to the Caucasus — namely to Georgia and Azerbaijan.
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At the beginning of this week, Azerbaijan and the European Union signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on the strategic partnership between the European Union, represented by the European Commission, and the Republic of Azerbaijan in the energy sector.” The document was signed by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen.
According to the memorandum, Azerbaijan will increase the volume of gas supplied to EU nations by up to 20 billion cubic meters per year.
At present, 10 billion cubic meters of gas are supplied from Azerbaijan to the EU through the “Southern Gas Corridor” annually.
According to economists, EU nations’ annual need for natural gas is about 500 billion cubic meters. Of this volume, 60% is covered by Russian gas. The EU intends to seriously reduce gas imports from the Russian Federation.
Yet even with a doubling of Azerbaijani gas exports, only 4% of EU nations’ need will be met, Azeri experts on the Russian threat stated in connection with Baku’s intention of replacing Russian gas.
“Tensions came to a head on November 10, 2020”
According to former member of the Milli Majlis (Azeri parliament), doctor of political sciences and professor Jumshud Nuriyev, relations between Baku and Moscow haven’t been particularly friendly since Azerbaijan declared independence.
“At times the tension in the relationship was quite serious. I consider November 10, 2020, the height of this tension. But it then began to wane,” Nuriev said.
Nuriev is confident that the development of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Turkey benefits Azerbaijan. Furthermore, a memorandum of alliance between the two countries signed by Aliyev and Putin on February 23, 2022 has eased tension somewhat.
“At present, tensions are at a low level. But there is a kind of orthodoxy among the Russian military brass, closely connected to Armenia. We can see some enmity in their attitude toward Azerbaijan.
“In particular, they are trying to cover up failures on the Ukrainian front by diverting attention to other areas. So as far tension between Moscow and Baku, the tension is rather hidden,” he added.
“There is a danger of provocations shifting from Central Asia to the Caucasus”
Jumshud Nuriyev further stated that processes inside the country, namely a galvanizing opposition and the actions of immigrants abroad, show that provocations against Azerbaijan are possible:
“This cannot be ruled out. And earlier experts have stated that there is a danger of tension spreading from Central Asia to the Caucasus. We must be prepared for such provocations.”
“Moscow is pursuing a colonial policy”
Deputy of the Azerbaijani Parliament and economist Vahid Ahmadov also maintained that Russia’s attitude toward Azerbaijan has never been friendly. “Recently there have also been threats, often straight from Moscow,” he said.
“Take the Karabakh issue. Which points of the tripartite statement of November 10, 2020 have been fulfilled? Neither the delimitation of the borders, nor the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from this territory happened. The infrastructure linking the main part of Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan hasn’t been started either.
“We often point to Armenia as the culprit, but Russia is behind it. That is why Russia’s attitude toward us is no surprise.
“Moscow is pursuing a colonial policy. It wants to keep Azerbaijan as its colony. But this is no longer possible; Azerbaijan is pursuing an independent policy, trying to solve its problems on its own. And Moscow doesn’t like that.”
“Both the world and Azerbaijan itself have changed”
Ahmadov noted that another factor irritating the Kremlin is rapprochement between Azerbaijan and Turkey:
“Russia doesn’t like that Turkey has become an active player in the region by developing fraternal relations with Azerbaijan. Although it has some influence on this process, it is basically impossible to stop.
“Both the world and Azerbaijan itself have changed. We have serious political, economic, military and humanitarian ties with Turkey. Turkey and Azerbaijan are responsible for each other’s security.”
“We do not recognize the occupation policy of Russia”
The Azerbaijani MP noted that Azerbaijan has never severed relations with Russia.
“Relations between our countries have always existed. Russia is our neighbor. There are close political, economic and humanitarian ties. It is impossible not to note President Ilham Aliyev’s good relations with Russia.
“But in spite of this, we do not recognize the occupation policy of Russia. Azerbaijan is a sovereign state. And Moscow is pursuing an occupation policy.
“Events in Moldova, Georgia, and now in Ukraine are unfolding before our eyes, though a similar situation is hardly possible in Azerbaijan for the reasons I have indicated.
“Russia itself should be interested in close economic and political relations with Azerbaijan,” Vahid Ahmedov concluded..