Neither the crucial statements made by the Azerbaijani leaders concerning the European Union nor their diplomatic demarches can seriously spoil Baku’s relations with Brussels.
According to Armenian political scientist Sergey Minasyan, the Azerbaijanis often appear with critical words against the EU but their ties with the Europeans are still strong. “Even if Azerbaijan decides to withdraw from Euronest, this will hardly be painful for the EU, especially as no final decision has been made yet,” Minasyan says in an interview to EADaily.
Recently, the Azerbaijani authorities appeared with a series of tough statements regarding the European Union. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry even cancelled the visit of a European Commission delegation to Baku. The talks on strategic partners are at risk as is Azerbaijan’s membership to Euronest. This was Azerbaijan’s reaction to the European Parliament’s critical resolutions on the human rights situation in the country.
“In this light, we should not expect serious changes in Azerbaijan’s relations with Russia. The decision on Russian gas supplies to Azerbaijan was hardly a symptom. It was a purely economic decision as now that fuel prices are falling, Azerbaijan is facing problems with the second and the third stages of its Shah Deniz project,” Minasyan says.
A few days ago, Gazprom Export and AzMeCo signed a deal on Russian gas supplies to Azerbaijan. Gazprom Export will supply 2bn c m a year for AzMeCo’s needs. The supplies are supposed to be started shortly.
“Azerbaijan often takes demonstrative steps in hope get response from partners but they do not regard this seriously. So, I would not say that Azerbaijan’s relations with the European Union are hopeless,” President of the Scientific Society for the Study of the Caucasus Alexander Krylov says in an interview to EADaily.
“The problems emerged when they in Baku qualified the deal on fuel supplies to Europe as an exchange of oil for Nagorno-Karabakh. They really believe this may be true even though they in Brussels did not mean anything like that. One more annoying moment was the European Parliament’s resolution on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide,” says Krylov.
The Azerbaijani leaders are also concerned to hear the EU criticizing their suits against some of their human rights activists and journalists. In fact, they are afraid of a Maidan.
In Krylov’s opinion, today Russia has much more serious problems than the problems between Azerbaijan and the EU. “Of course, for Russia Azerbaijan is important as here we have the Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian factors. For quite a long time, the Russians have managed to be good with both the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians. But today the Armenians are beginning to protest. So, it has become a serious question for the Kremlin how to avoid problems with Azerbaijan and Armenia and how not to let them turn into Georgia or Ukraine,” Krylov says.
Regarding the gas deal with Azerbaijan, Krylov notes that today Russia is seeking to enlarge the geography of its gas supplies and is well aware that Azerbaijan is its potential rival.
“The US and the EU would very much like to build a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan but they are not ready to invest own money in this project. But the Turkmens and the Azerbaijanis are not so naïve as they may think and will hardly do it in their stead - for they are not ready to quarrel with Russia and Iran for the sake of some illusionary partnership with the EU,” says Krylov.