Global Energy Security town hall looks at role of Azerbaijan

Washington, April 16 (AZERTAC). Even with the current tension in Ukraine, the subject of Sunday's public forum at the University of Oklahoma's Tulsa campus — namely, Azerbaijan's role in regional and even global political stability — might seem a little esoteric.

Especially with The Masters golf tournament on television and a storm blowing in from the west.

But a crowd of about 70 attended, asking questions of First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine and Azerbaijani Ambassador Elin Suleymanov until long after Bridenstine's staff suggested everyone go home ahead of the weather.

A year ago, Suleymanov said prior to the event, few people outside of the immediate region had much interest in an ongoing project to pipe Azerbaijan oil through Turkey to the Adriatic.

"Today," he said, "everybody understands."

The Oklahoma National Guard has had a relationship with the Azerbaijani military for a decade; from that relationship has grown other connections with the small nation on the western shore of the Caspian Sea.

These connections have gone largely unaddressed, but Bridenstine, in his first term, has taken a keen interest in them.

Azerbaijan, he frequently points out, is 90 percent Muslim but has a secular government and is friendly to the West. It has substantial oil and gas reserves and is the only country to border Russia and Iran.

Since 2006, Azerbaijan has shipped oil via pipeline to Ceyhan on Turkey's southern coast. Within five years, Suleymanov said, a pipeline system will be able to carry that oil as far as southern Italy.

This "Southern Corridor," as it is known, circumvents Russia completely, and offers the possibility of lessening that country's control of its former European satellites' oil and gas supplies, Bridenstine and Suleymanov said.

"As the importance of energy increases, the stakes are higher," Suleymanov said.

"The presence of the United States of America (in the region) is important," he said. "It is important because the United States of America is a major player," Suleymanov said. "You can't be a major player and be absent from a critically important situation."


© Content from this site must be hyperlinked when used.
Report a mistake by marking it and pressing ctrl + enter


Fields with * are required.

Please enter the letters as they are shown in the image above.
Letters are not case-sensitive.