The Role of The Black Sea Submarine Cable Project in Georgian-Azerbaijani Relations

Since 2016, Azerbaijan has been adopting a strategic road map targeted at sustainable development that combines medium and long-term objectives. The general program document "Azerbaijan 2020-Future Vision" expresses the goal of integrating environmental concerns into the economy, reducing pollution, protecting natural resources, using renewable energy sources, and increasing energy efficiency.Taking into mind the growth of "green energy" trade between Azerbaijan and Georgia on the one hand, and Europe on the other, utilizing the existing capacity for renewable energy generation is more crucial than ever.Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, and Hungary signed a strategic partnership agreement in the field of "green energy" development and transmission, laying the groundwork for cooperation between the four countries in strengthening national and regional energy security in the Black Sea basin, diversifying supply sources, and capitalizing on the Caspian Sea's renewable energy production capacity.The first meeting of the Global Gateway Council was held on December 11, 2022, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, High Representative/Vice-President Joseph Borrell, Commissioners Oliver Várhelyi and Jutta Urpilainen. Global Gateway's primary purpose is to increase investment ties in areas such as education, research, and health by developing clean and safe systems in the digital, energy, transportation, and climate-related sectors. Global Gateway, which intends to bridge numerous gaps in digital technology, energy, and transportation networks, is achieving its goals through three major economic investment initiatives in partner and bordering nations. Four major initiatives were presented at the first conference. One of them is the "Black Sea Undersea Cable Project," a strategic Black Sea underwater power connection between Georgia and the EU that will promote mutual sustainability while also allowing for the export of renewable energy from the South Caucasus to Europe. Based on the project, the European Union announced that it will allocate 17 billion euros for the Eastern Partnership's economic and investment plan, as well as 2.3 billion euros for the project's implementation, which aims to build the Black Sea strategic submarine electric cable between Georgia and the EU. The electric line will connect Georgia and the entire South Caucasus to Romania, enabling green energy exports to Europe while also improving mutual sustainability. EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Várhelyi stated that the plan includes transportation projects, the construction of a green railway, the reinforcement of trade links to the EU, digital communication projects such as a fiber optic cable under the Black Sea, and a power cable. Romania is collaborating with Georgia and other partner countries on numerous key strategic initiatives, including the development of an electric cable connecting Georgia and Azerbaijan via the Green Electricity Corridor. The project will link the Caspian Sea region to the Black Sea and the European Union. Romania is initiating relevant works with Georgia to establish a cargo corridor between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The State Electricity System of Georgia has ordered a feasibility study for the Georgia-Romania Black Sea Submarine Interconnection Cable Project. The World Bank finances the project. The feasibility study will be carried out by the Italian CESI consulting firm, which was selected through an international tender. The Black Sea submarine cable project envisions the building of a high-voltage submarine transmission network connecting Georgia's and Europe's energy infrastructures. If the project is carried out, a 1195-kilometer-long cable (1100 kilometers underwater and 95 kilometers on land) will connect to Romania.The Union's energy security is reliant on access to Caspian Sea resources via the Southern Gas Corridor, and as such, it is interested in diversifying the relevant energy sources. In this aspect, Romania is the key initiator. Because of its favorable geopolitical location and the presence of its own oil and gas deposits, the country will become less reliant on energy imports over time. According to Romania's 2016-2030 strategy, crude oil production will steadily fall beginning in 2016 and continuing through 2030-2050. The chance of a reduction in oil prices begins in 2035. A similar tendency exists in gas production. As a result, the strategic plan's primary purpose is to diversify relevant Black Sea sources. The planning and implementation of alternative energy projects play a vital role in this respect.According to Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, the Black Sea submarine power cable is significant in a variety of ways. According to him, this project will boost the renewable energy sector and expand transit and trade prospects between the European Union and the South Caucasus region. The Prime Minister further stated that the realization of this project entails uniting the South Caucasus region of Europe as a whole, not just Georgia, Romania, Azerbaijan, and Hungary. It should be noted that the "Agreement on Strategic Partnership in the Field of Development and Transmission of Green Energy between the Governments of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, and Hungary" was approved last year, and the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed a decree to that effect. According to the decree, after the agreement enters into force, the Republic of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Energy must ensure that its provisions are implemented, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must notify the governments of Georgia, Romania, and Hungary that the internal procedures required for the Agreement's entry into force have been completed. It is no coincidence that Georgia's Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, who was on an official visit to Azerbaijan in April of last year, emphasized Georgia and Azerbaijan's enormous potential to provide renewable energy to the European Union: “We have implemented projects of historical significance that will last centuries. We have often referenced prior projects that have been accomplished and are now successfully working. Georgia is a very dependable transit partner for the execution of these major projects. We are working, and we will not stop... Georgia and Azerbaijan have a big potential to give Europe green, renewable energy, which is very significant. It is promising; it is the future, and both countries should invest more in this area..." The project's realization will help to boost energy security in Europe and the South Caucasus, promote the renewable energy industry, and expand transit options between the defined regions. This will allow the South Caucasus countries and Romania to profit from increased export opportunities and electricity. Given the rapid growth in internet consumption in recent years, having more internet connection points is particularly vital. This initiative is especially important for South Caucasus. If executed, it will provide the region with the opportunity to become a digital hub, as well as reduce energy dependence.

The article is prepared by the Embassy of Azerbaijan.


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