In an interview with New Europe, Ali Hasanov, a top official in the Government of Azerbaijan, discussed the country’s relationship with the European Union. Azerbaijan acts as an important supplier of Caspian Sea energy, having received major oil and gas investments from the EU over the past 20 years.“ In terms of energy security, we opened the doors of the Caspian Sea to Europe and we started to realise energy projects, I want to especially mention the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) and the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project.” These projects, connecting Caspian oil and gas to Europe, supply a substantial piece of Europe’s energy mix which many hope will decrease European reliance on Russian energy.
While Hasanov admits that the relationship has been mutually beneficial, he recognizes increasing political tensions between Azerbaijan and the EU, particularly over election practices and human rights issues: “Unfortunately some powers in Europe are starting to pressure, to dictate to Azerbaijan what to do. With Europe we had a good relationship – energy, communications, transport. With different countries of the EU we have a good relationship and we continue to have a good relationship. But in the European Parliament some powers are trying to influence the members of the European Parliament to dictate some unacceptable rules to Azerbaijan. Of course, as independent country we are not satisfied with this and we will resist this. Azerbaijan has its own independent policy and we are not going to be dependent on any country.”
Hasanov stated that Azerbaijan intends to continue with the energy policies it has been following. “We can sign in the future new contracts based on the bilateral relationships. We also expect from Europe new initiatives and we have our initiatives,” he said.
Azerbaijan has sought to increase its presence in the international energy business, most recently lobbying for membership in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a coalition of states that account for 42 percent of global gas output.