European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (Photo credit: president.az)
Azerbaijan and the European Commission have signed a deal to increase gas imports to the European Union in the wake of the ongoing global energy crisis
On 18 July, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan to negotiate a comprehensive deal for enhanced cooperation in the fields of energy, economy, and human rights.
Von der Leyen met with President Ilham Aliyev and Azeri Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov, and agreed to increase Europe’s share of Azeri gas exports to offset the severe shortages.
According to the memorandum of understanding between the two parties, Azerbaijan is committed to the annual delivery of at least 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas via the Southern Gas Corridor to the European Union by 2027.
Last year, Azerbaijan delivered eight bcm of natural gas to the EU and is expected to increase its exports to 12 bcm by the end of 2022.
“Today, with this new Memorandum of Understanding, we are opening a new chapter in our energy cooperation with Azerbaijan, a key partner in our efforts to move away from Russian fossil fuels,” Von der Leyen announced in a statement.
The EU is turning to more reliable energy suppliers.
Today I’m in Azerbaijan to sign a new agreement.
Our goal: double the gas delivery from Azerbaijan to the EU in a few years.
🇦🇿 will be a crucial partner for our security of supply and on our way to climate neutrality. pic.twitter.com/fVHPr921Ui
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) July 18, 2022
The Russian–Ukrainian war caused severe disruptions in the global energy market, forcing the EU to find alternatives to the Russian gas supplies that make up to 40 percent of gas exports to Europe.
However, with Europe’s failure to replace Russian gas with liquified natural gas (LNG) from the US and Qatar, the EU approached small exporters in West Asia in a bid to cumulatively compensate for the shortages.
On 15 June, Von der Leyen hosted a tripartite meeting between Israel, Egypt, and the EU in Cairo, in an aim to increase energy exports to Europe.
However, these new deals sparked outrage on social media in Armenia and in Palestine, citing the hypocrisy of Europe for sidelining Russia over the Ukrainian war, but ignoring Azerbaijan’s recent military operation in Artsakh in 2020 and the Israeli military operation on Gaza in 2021.