Cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Balkans: Analysis from Baku
Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Balkans
One of the main areas of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy is the strengthening of relations with the Balkan countries. Experts of the Azerbaijani think tank CSSC weigh in on how this is achieved.
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“The Balkan Peninsula covers the east-central part of Europe, and Azerbaijan, although it is considered both a European and an Asian country, is politically and geographically located in Eastern Europe.
One of the ten non-permanent members of the UN Security Council represents Eastern Europe on a rotating basis for a two-year term. In 2011 Azerbaijan was selected from Eastern Europe as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. Now this role is being filled by Albania.”
“Unlike Western Europe, the Balkan countries do not look at foreign policy through an ideological prism.
A similar history (both regions remained under the influence of the USSR for many years) and common challenges (problems with territorial integrity, attempts by outside forces to interfere in internal affairs) form the basis of mutual integration.”
“Currently, energy has become one of the most important tools in the struggle of international forces for influence and power. Promising economic ties are sacrificed for political ambitions.
In such circumstances, Azerbaijan, skillfully balancing economic and political interests, offers the Balkan countries cooperation based on mutual benefit. New promising areas have become even more relevant after the commissioning of the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector.
Azerbaijani gas exported to Bulgaria will enter the Romanian market from 2023. Work continues on the construction of an interconnector that will connect Serbia to this system. The Ionian-Adriatic Seas project will make it possible to export Azerbaijani gas to three more Balkan countries that cannot receive it now.
Energy cooperation is not limited to oil and natural gas. A working group of Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania-Hungary was set up last week to lay a 1,195 kilometer electric cable along the bottom of the Black Sea.
Currently, Azerbaijan’s export potential is estimated at 1,000 megawatts. But Baku is preparing to undertake another project in addition to wind and solar power plants. These three projects will increase the country’s export potential by 700 megawatts in the coming months.”
“For Azerbaijan, the Balkan Peninsula is a region with an opportunity to access the Black, Aegean and Adriatic Seas. Deprived of the possibility of access to the open sea, cooperation with the Balkans is important for Azerbaijan.
In the future, Baku is thinking of transporting its exports and transit cargo to the ports of the Balkan countries and even further through the ports of Turkey and Georgia.”
“Common challenges (Karabakh for Azerbaijan, Kosovo for Serbia, etc.) also invite security cooperation for the parties, for example agreements reached between the Ministries of Defense of Azerbaijan and Serbia.
Another vector of cooperation with the Balkans are relations with Greece. Baku was able to win the favor of Athens in internationally significant projects, which forces Greece to pursue a balanced policy in relations with Yerevan.
In addition, being a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from Eastern Europe makes Azerbaijan’s cooperation with these countries even more objectively important. It is worth noting that in December 2022, Albania, the representative of Eastern Europe in the UN Security Council, opposed a draft resolution submitted by France for discussion in the Security Council.”