The Winner is TAP: The EU’s Failed Policy in the South Caucasus
Between the two competitors for the delivery of Azerbaijani gas to Europe Nabucco West and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) the winner is the latter, a project designed to transport Caspian gas via Greece and Albania and across the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy. The EU welcomed the decision of the Shah Deniz consortium. Yet the political objective of the Southern Corridor was to diversify gas supply to Europe and reduce the energy dependence of some EU member states on Russia. With TAP as the winner, it is questionable whether the EU has truly met these goals. As for Azerbaijan, the selection of TAP can be viewed as a commercially sound decision and a political balancing act by Baku to gain access to European markets and to avoid angering the Kremlin. Yet this choice came only after President Alyev failed to convince the EU to take a clearer stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process in exchange for Nabucco West. For its part, the EU has failed to be a credible actor in the region, able to defend its interests by diversifying energy supplies, decreasing the energy dependence of some member states on Russia and contributing to regional security in the South Caucasus.