TAPping game with Azerbaijan
Yesterday, SOCAR Vice-President Elshad Nasirov actually reaffirmed our forecast, hinting in an interview to Italian journalists that Moscow had been behind the campaign against the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline (TAP) in Italy.
In contrast to SOCAR VP, the Italians openly confirm that Azerbaijan was aware of the importance of the gas pipeline both for Europe and for the Azerbaijani economy. However, the project implementation runs counter to the interests of the chief gas exporter to Europe: Russian giant Gazprom.
In the meanwhile, local government of the Italian south opposes the project as saying that it stymies the tourism development and disturbs the landscape of Italian Apulia.
Note that Gazprom delivers 154 billion cubic metres of gas to Europe and Azerbaijan - just 10 billion cubic meters. However, even this small volume of gas annoys Moscow.
It should be noted that long before this interview, specifically on 10 September this year Azeri Daily, disposing of no facts, by means of logic reasoning and putting facts together, indicated an address of chief organiser of these protests: Gazprom. The Russian gas giant is doing its best to stymie the implementation of the Azerbaijani project and replace it by its own Southern Stream. However, there were many impostor-experts alleging that the Azerbaijani project was profitable for Russia, while Southern Stream was profitable for Azerbaijan.
‘The time is now the principal means of struggle for the competitors – Gazprom and SOCAR, in their fight for the European market. He who gains time, shall first deliver his gas to Europe. But who will win – Azerbaijan or Russia?’ inferred our article ‘Who is behind protests against Azerbaijani gas in Italy?’ published on 10 September 2014.
A long time elapsed since, and the government of Italy signed a decree on ecological compliance of the Italian sector of the gas pipeline. The document was approved following an all-round interaction and regular discussions with local communities, public, national and regional bodies of power involved. However, the situation was not as easy as it seemed to be.
Following a solemn ceremony of laying the Southern Gas Corridor in Baku a month ago, a leader of the parliamentary 5-Star Movement-M5S, former comic actor Beppe Grillo declared that a referendum was required to discuss a TAP project laying across the Italian territory. Even worse, Grillo characterised the project as ‘unsuccessful’ and ‘a fruit of science fiction’ and called residents of the Italian south to protest its implementation. ‘Otherwise, the project implementation will impede the tourism development and violate the natural landscape of Italian Apulia.’
‘If they try to lay a pipeline across Apulia, we’ll do our utmost to frustrate their plans. Even if they send their troops here, we’ll advance our own army to disturb their project,’ aggressively stressed the former comic. But who the hell is he to set himself above others?
Giuseppe Piero ‘Beppe’ Grillo is an Italian comic actor, blogger and politician. In 2009 he founded a protest political movement ‘Five stars’. The Party gained popularity and took the third place with 25% of support at the parliamentary election in February 2013. A Russian expert and director of the Centre for European Studies Тimofey Bordachev noted: ‘Such a political alignment threatens to destabilise the country at the height of economic crisis in Europe and create difficulties in implementing urgent reforms in Italy.’
The rivals termed a program of 64-year old native of Genoa, former Italian comic actor with economic education as populist: to cut politicians’ salaries, ensure Internet freedom, return to national currency and decline from integration into the EU. It is difficult to call such a person a politician; still, he is welcomed by his chief electorate: young bloggers, ecologists and representatives of various humanitarian associations. Grillo became a sort of label, behind which there are Italians tired of politicians.
Perhaps, Bordachev is right in saying that success in recovering the country by the technical government of Monti will soon be nullified. In the nearest months, Italy is likely to return into the ranks of ‘sick men’ of Europe. Well, it’s a matter for Italy itself.
Whereas ТАР’s fate concerns not only Italy, but other European transit-gas countries as well, specifically Turkey, Georgia and particularly Azerbaijan as project initiator and main gas exporter. As a whole, no catastrophe is expected, for Azerbaijan may turn its gas pipeline conversely, to any country that welcomes the project. However, the time will be lost, so it is necessary to make haste, otherwise gas niches will be filled up by others.
This article was first published by AZERI DAILY