Reza Hojjat Shamami, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, stated that developments in the Caucasus region, apart from the issues related to this region, have long been affected by the degree of power and influence of the neighbors, noting that each of the neighboring countries which, in different periods, had more power to the same extent gained more influence in the region. At present, the Karabakh-related affairs are also affected by this issue.
Emphasizing that Karabakh is an important geography where the powers seek to play a role, he added: This geopolitical position is connected to energy and, regardless of the economic issues, political and strategic goals of each of those countries, lead to their efforts to increase their influence in that area.
The expert on Caucasus issues said that the Republic of Azerbaijan has been able to acquire wider energy resources and in recent years has moved towards unification, adding: The Republic of Azerbaijan, in order to be able to use its geoenergy position, has tried to modernize and strengthen its economy in order to increase its military capacity and capability.
Republic of Azerbaijan after new route for energy transfer to Europe
Hojjat Shamami, while referring to the most important energy transmission pipelines in the region and explaining effects of the Second Karabakh War on the geopolitics of the region, added: One of the issues raised in this war was creation of a corridor from Azerbaijan to Turkey through which Turkey will be connected to the Republic of Azerbaijan and the energy transfer route will be easier and the potential for another route will be created. In this way, energy is transferred to Turkey and Europe, and Turkey itself can be a user.
He reminded: The problem is that the energy and gas of the Republic of Azerbaijan is not enough to meet the needs of Europe alone, and at the same time, Russia does not agree with the Trans-Caspian issue and prevents it from being finalized as much as possible in an attempt that Turkmenistan’s gas will not be connected to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Hojjat Shamami emphasized: Although it is said that this corridor connects the Republic of Azerbaijan to Nakhchivan and Turkey and this becomes a new route of energy transfer, it seems that as long as there is a line of thinking similar to that of Putin in Russia, this permission will not be given to the Republic of Azerbaijan; because Russia is sensitive to the issue of energy transfer to Europe and seeks to strengthen its path for energy transfer to Europe and monopoly in this regard.
He continued: The Russians seek to limit the routes established by the West to reduce dependence on Russia. In addition, that country is after increasing its energy supply routes to the West in order to maintain its influence in Central Asia and the Caucasus by leveraging energy, and to keep the European Union dependent on it; therefore, it will not allow transfer of energy, at least in the form of a pipeline, from this path.
Referring to the tensions between Armenia and Turkey, the analyst of the Caucasus affairs said: Armenia will not allow this transfer unless it concludes that the transfer will bring high economic benefits; of course, it should be borne in mind that in this case too, Russia will not allow this.
New corridor will not cause energy transfer
Emphasizing that it seems the new corridor will not facilitate energy transfer, Hojjat Shamami added: Russia, with the role it played in the second Karabakh war, as an observer and sponsor of this corridor, even maintains its position and almost permanent presence in this region. It is not a question of being present for the next five or 10 years, but of laying the groundwork for the control of Armenia, as well as the Republic of Azerbaijan, so that it does not turn into an important energy transit region on a route separate from Russia.
Saying that one of the scenarios for the Karabakh solution is that Russia, like Abkhazia and South Ossetia or Crimea, would annex it by voting, adding: Certainly, Russia’s presence in the region will increase in order to prevent further energy transfers.
Referring to the European energy policies, the analyst of the Caucasus affairs said: Europe seeks to diversify energy reception; therefore, it should strengthen the Republic of Azerbaijan in any possible way to facilitate this transfer of energy, but this diversification must be done either through Georgia, the Black Sea and Europe, or through Georgia and the Black Sea, which already exists. This diversification against Russia is in Europe’s interest, but it increases Turkey’s bargaining power and pressure on Europe.
For Europe finding a solution with Russia is easier than with Turkey
Hojjat Shamami continued by stating that in the equations of the Caucasus, energy has become a political lever and noted: It seems that Europe has reached the conclusion that it will be easier to reach a solution with Russia than with Turkey, because Turkey is experiencing political fluctuations in its behavior.
At the same time, he said: It is true that the Republic of Azerbaijan seeks to increase its power by transferring energy and increasing ties with its allies and diversify the issue of energy transfer to Europe against Russia, but if Russia concludes that this energy transfer can reduce its economic and political position vis-a-vis Europe, it can put pressure to the same extent on the Republic of Azerbaijan in various ways.
Hojjat Shamami added: Although the current situation can be in the interest of the Republic of Azerbaijan, but in other respects it can also be detrimental in terms of territory and political pressures, especially if Russia’s presence in the Karabakh conflict exceeds the time stipulated in the agreement and be on a permanent basis.
According to the expert on Caucasus affairs, if the Republic of Azerbaijan intends to be more active in terms of energy transmission lines, Russia can put pressure on it through Karabakh.
He concluded by saying: It seems that one of the consequences of the Second Karabakh War and lack of the Russian support for Armenia was that Russia, under geopolitical and territorial pressure, influenced the energy transfer issue and brought the war to a point to play its role in the ceasefire. Therefore, the Republic of Azerbaijan, while being concerned about energy, should also be concerned about this issue.