Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.13 / Trend, V.Zhavoronkova /
The visit of the President of the EU Commission
Jose Manuel Barroso and the European Energy Commissioner Günther Herrmann Oettinger to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan demonstrates that Europe gives a clear preference for hydrocarbon supplies from the Caspian region to Europe, European expert on energy issues Borut Grgic believes.
"The high level visit and the choice of capitals (Baku and Ashgabat) also give a clear EU preference for a transCaspian energy flow to Europe," Grgic, the director of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Ljubljana, wrote Trend in an e-mail.
Barroso and Oettinger will visit Baku on Jan.13-14 and Ashgabat on Jan.15-16. According to the EU Representation in Baku, Barroso will sign several agreements, particularly in energy sector during his visit to Azerbaijan.
In early January Barroso stated that the Nabucco gas pipeline will be implemented, in connection with which experts link his visit to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan - potential gas exporter countries - with progress in this issue.
Nabucco gas pipeline project worth € 7.9 billion will transport gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East to the European Union. Construction of gas pipeline is planned to be launched in 2012; the first deliveries are scheduled for 2015.
According to Grgic, the visit of the President of the EU Commission seems to indicate that Europe is finally listening to its critics, who have been arguing for a while now that the EU is not sufficiently engage in the Caspian region.
"I don't think this visit is so much about Nabucco, or any other pipeline for that matter, as it is about a show of political support for these countries," Grgic, Founder and Director of TransCaspian Initiative, said.
The European commitment to the region needs to translate into a real political partnership that addresses genuine concerns on all sides. Energy dialogue alone is insufficient to ensure a stable and lasting Caspian-EU partnership, he believes.
According to him, the order of Barroso's visits matters as much as the logistics.
Nabucco is a political project that makes a lot of strategic sense for the EU, he believes.
"The alternatives, smaller pipelines, are more in line with market realities, meaning they are based off of currently available Azerbaijani gas rather than future potential, which includes also Iraq and Turkmenistan," Grgic said.
E.Ostapenko contributed to the article.