The architect of energy diplomacy is 92 years old
Akkan Süver*If Heydar Aliyev, the architect of the energy diplomacy that turned raw material into a diamond, were alive, he would be 92 years old.
During his presidency from June 1993 until October 2003, Aliyev played a great part in Azerbaijan’s independency, stabilization and acceptance by the world. In other words, modern Azerbaijan is his creation.
However, Aliyev’s major success was in energy diplomacy. The Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields agreement that was struck in 1995 was the starting point of the huge improvement, development and enrichment of Azerbaijan in the present day. The second milestone and success following this oil field agreement was the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline Project. The oil and natural gas acquired in the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli fields and the Shah Deniz project created an alternative route for Russian gas and oil to travel to Turkey and Europe today. They were also an example of Aliyev’s foresight. There were no road facilities or electricity at the time Aliyev assumed the government’s leadership; the bareness ratio was approximately 45 percent.
He chose to transform the people and the economy to higher, more valuable standards. Using oil income, he tried to make large social changes to help his country reach western standards and draw a map of regeneration. His successors have continued to implement his esteemed and visionary ideas, which has helped Azerbaijan reach its current condition.
Sharing the riches the Azeri government has gained with Turkey is nothing but the picture of loyalty to the “One Nation with Two States” philosophy that Aliyev created. Today, the TANAP (Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline) project is being developed between Turkey and Azerbaijan. The first stage of the project after its completion in 2018 will have a transfer capacity of some 18 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas. By 2020, together with TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline Project), it will carry natural gas from the Turkey-Greece border and through Albania to Italy and most probably to northern Europe. The TANAP and TAP projects will create an alternative and strategic road map in the energy corridor. They have already gained importance in Europe after the latest crisis in Ukraine.
Aliyev’s successor, Ilham Aliyev, and his colleagues’ devotion to energy diplomacy has helped Azerbaijan’s progress and also provided a cultural and economic center based in Azerbaijan. The government authority channels the incomes from the projects specifically to intellectual human resources, education and basic investment projects in order to develop private industry.
Now, Azerbaijan is at a new milestone, a milestone which affects both Turkey’s and Europe’s economic plans, with stable and reliable energy resources.
Hence, today, Aliyev’s energy diplomacy has opened Azerbaijan from the Caspian coasts to the World’s oceans.
*Akkan Süver is the president of the Marmara Group Foundation.