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The Timid Bully: EU Energy Policy in the South Caucasus

Nelli Babayan
Freie Universität Berlin
Nelli Babayan
Freie Universität Berlin
Open Panel

Abstract

Until recently, the EU has not directed its spotlight on the South Caucasus. Much has changed, after the South Caucasus moved geopolitically closer to the EU. In addition, Russia’s blackmailing policy of “turning off the gas faucet” forced the EU to look for other sources of energy supply through building of the Southern energy corridor. That is when the region with its Rose Revolution in the EU-enthusiast Georgia, double-digit economic growth in the EU-supporter Armenia, and most importantly, rich energy resources in the EU-moderate Azerbaijan came under the spotlight. The EU grabbed the opportunity of entering the region more actively and advancing its energy interests and included the South Caucasus in its various targeted policies. However, the EU has yet to succeed in securing energy supplies through the Southern corridor. The large portion of the blame for lack of success has been directed at the ubiquitous inconsistency and incoherence of EU foreign policy and disagreements between member states. The Lisbon Treaty was the alleged panacea for these maladies. However, inter alia several important factors should be taken into account when evaluating EU energy policy in the South Caucasus: the region’s “backyard” nature for Russia; the incessant regional conflicts; and minimal consideration of local issues by the EU when advancing its own. Thus, this paper evaluates the development and implementation of EU energy policy in the region in light of the mentioned factors and the enforcement of the Lisbon Treaty and aims to provide policy recommendations.