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EU Energy Diversification Policy through South Caucasus

Open Panel

Abstract

The issue of the European Union’s energy security remains at the top of political narratives of EU countries, especially in the light of frequent disturbances in the context of gas delivery from the EU’s main supplier, the Russian Federation. Does the South Caucasus, however, provide a more stable region for an alternative pipeline system, as the High Representative of the European Union imagined in his 2006 paper, entitled ‘An External Policy to Serve Europe’s Energy Interests’? Could the realisation of this project result in stabilising the political situation in these conflict-prone regions? The paper focuses on the external aspect of the EU energy security – the energy diversification policy and its main concern, pipelines. This will be elucidated using the example of Nabucco – the EU’s initiative of a pipeline that could provide gas from Central Asia while omitting the currently existing pipeline system within the territory of the Russian Federation. This article focuses on the perspectives of South Caucasus being an alternative energy corridor. It examines the historical context of Caucasus as an energy transit route, then going to the contemporary political dynamics, both internal (of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) and external (Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan). Contrary to the general belief that pipelines tend to lead to conflicts rather than stabilisation, the article promotes the idea of the Nabucco pipeline as a possible tool of stabilisation of South Caucasus – although it may not be more stable than the currently existing transit through Belarus and Ukraine, with consequent and multidimensional approach of the funding bodies (and the EU in particular), energy transit initiatives can lead to stabilisation of this highly volatile region.