The Hill newspaper has published “New thinking for the South Caucasus” article by Stephen Blank, professor at the U.S. Army War College.
The article says: “New administrations often offer openings for new policies. One area where the US needs new initiatives is the South Caucasus because new opportunities and new challenges are emerging here and they each contain serious implications for critical U.S. interests.
Two opportunities present themselves here. First is the start of construction of the Trans-
Anatolian or TANAP gas pipeline from Azerbaijan through Turkey to the Turco-Bulgarian border. This pipeline will bring gas from Azerbaijan into Central Europe once a corresponding route is chosen from Bulgaria’s border with Turkey. TANAP and the pipeline that is ultimately chosen to connect to the Balkans will also give Balkan governments an alternative to Russia’s South Stream pipeline that is essentially a political project to subordinate the Balkans and Ukraine to Russian influence under highly dubious economic terms.
U.S. initiative to ensure diversity of supply from the Caspian to the Balkans also enhances opportunities for democratizing Balkan governments and enhancing the security of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.
At the same time, the lack of a resolution causes Baku to worry about the Azeri refugees’ susceptibility to extremist Islamic ideologies and Iranian subversion. These challenges and opportunities underscore the linkages among the South Caucasus, vital issues of European energy security, and the security not only of the South Caucasian states but also Turkey and Russia’s future regional roles. /AzerTAc/