[:en]Norway is leaving in order to stay[:]

tərəfindən Gozetci

[:en]On 9 November, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry announced the closure of the embassy in Azerbaijan from 2019, which was the only diplomatic mission of the kingdom in the South Caucasus (JC) since July 1998, when the diplomatic mission of the kingdom was opened in Baku. The Norwegian Diplomatic Center in this region is relocated to Georgia. Norwegian-Azerbaijani relations are transferred to the jurisdiction of the Norwegian Embassy in Ankara.

In Azerbaijan this news was unexpected for the society. There was no preliminary information about it. Even the message about the closure of the embassy was made slightly noted in the context of a more detailed statement by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry on the opening of the embassy in Tbilisi.

“Georgia is one of our main partners in the Eurasian region. For many years, it followed the path of reforms that brought it closer to European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Based on a common assessment of Norwegian interests and our ties with the countries of the South Caucasus, Norway decided to open an embassy in Georgia. “Thanks to the permanent representation in Tbilisi, it will be convenient for us to observe the developments in the region as a whole,” said Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Sereide.

And further: “At the same time, the embassy in Baku will be closed. Then the embassy in Ankara will be responsible for relations between Norway and Azerbaijan. However, Norway plans to create an honorary consulate general in Baku. These changes in the representation of Norway in the South Caucasus will be implemented in 2019.” Azerbaijani authorities in the face of Acting Foreign Ministry spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva expressed regret over the decision of the Norwegian government.

So, the brief but succinct statement of Mrs. Ine Eriksen Sereide allows, nevertheless, to make a cautious, but necessary in the conditions of information vacuum, the conclusion about the motives and goals of Norway in the region that moved it to this decision.

1. Norway decided to relocate the embassy to Georgia, which carried out the transaction into the system of European values ​​and Euro-Atlantic cooperation, which was also recorded by the last presidential elections in this country. Support for Europeanization of Georgia is becoming the main and important factor playing the role of a locomotive for promoting the South Caucasus in the Euro-Atlantic space.

2. The assessment by Norwegians of their interests and ties with the countries of the South Caucasus is the second rationale for the decision, and it is due to two factors: 1) The Georgian scenario of reforming Armenia, which started this spring, will require more active participation of Oslo in Armenian reforms, 2) less effective in conditions when the embassy was based in Baku, and that to some extent linked the freedom of action of Norwegian diplomats.

3. The form of the statement by the Foreign Ministry of Norway, where a special place is given to pro-European Georgia and dryly points to the closure of the diplomatic mission in Azerbaijan, may indicate that the Norwegian side considers unproductive and unpromising to conduct further dialogue with official Baku regarding democratic reforms. This side of the question has always been a stumbling block in the Norwegian-Azerbaijani relations.

Repeated attempts of the Norwegians to build relations with Azerbaijanis in the system of European norms and values ​​through energy, cultural, social and educational projects have yielded nothing. And we can say the current decision has been brewing for years in the context of the disproportionate development of the political vectors of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The latter is increasingly slipping towards the establishment of absolute authoritarianism.

The impact force of the Norwegian policy of Statoil, a participant in the Azeri base oil contract ACG, already in December 2013 refused to participate in the construction of the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP), which plans to deliver gas from Azerbaijan to Europe and announced the sale of its 10% share Shah Deniz project. In May 2014, shareholders of the company decide to exit from oil and gas projects in Azerbaijan. In April 2015, Statoil sold its 15.5 percent share in the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field, including to the Azerbaijan Gas Supply Company (12.4 percent) and the South Caucasus Pipeline Company (15.5 percent), Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas.

These oil and gas decisions were made at a time when the government of Azerbaijan increased pressure on civil society and efforts to limit democracy. At the same time, negotiations were held on the problems of democracy both at a high official level and at the level of official Baku with the Norwegian democratic foundations, which, according to recent events, proved to be fruitless and unpromising. Perhaps these were coincidences, if we consider that in May 2018, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and Statoil Azerbaijan, which is part of the Norwegian Equinor group, on May 30 signed a Risk-Service Agreement (RSA) on the Karabakh in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea and the PSA on the Ashraf-Dan Ulduzu-Aypar also in the Caspian.

But it can also indicate that Norway decided to separate its energy and political interests in the South Caucasus, promoting the first through projects in Azerbaijan, and the second through expanding its activity in Georgia. Considering that, due to the Karabakh conflict, Georgia has always been a communicative place for promoting South Caucasus projects with the participation of Azerbaijan and Armenia since the early 1990s, it”s not difficult to continue the line of expanding informal public contacts of the three countries including Norway.

This is supported by the fact that the embassy in Ankara, and not in Georgia, will be responsible for relations with Azerbaijan. In fact, the Norwegian mission in Tbilisi will not contact with the Azerbaijani authorities. Partially, this mission will be taken by the honorary consul general, possibly represented by Equinor in Azerbaijan.


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