Implementing specific programs is not an easy task nowadays. A wide variety of conflicts happening in every part of the world have caused numerous problems and difficulties. The South Caucasus region is particularly volatile from geopolitical and geoeconomic points of view. Experience shows that each time Azerbaijan is kick-starting a huge and important project certain forces try to disrupt the process. This was the case with the Contract of the Century, TANAP and TAP agreements and the Southern Gas Corridor project. The recent inauguration of Star oil refinery, Azerbaijan’s largest investment abroad, is a milestone historic event of huge geopolitical and geoeconomic significance in this context. The presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey underlined this in their speeches at the opening ceremony of Star. This article will look at some of these points.
Pragmatic and beneficial: the two brotherly countries’ cooperation model for the rest of the world
Azerbaijan has notched up another success as Star oil refinery was inaugurated in the brotherly Turkey`s city of Izmir. The facility`s capacity gives a clear description of the geopolitical and geoeconomic importance of the event. Star refinery is built in the territory of Petkim, Turkey`s first and only petrochemical complex. Azerbaijan’s state oil firm SOCAR together with Turkey’s TURKAS company acquired 51 percent of Petkim shares in 2008. The foundation stone for Star oil refinery was laid by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 25, 2011.
The $6.3 billion refinery is expected to make a huge contribution to increasing Turkey`s total refining capacity. The facility has an annual processing capacity of 10 million tons of crude. By producing 1.6 million tons of oil per year, the plant will meet Turkey`s demand for aviation fuel. It will also produce about 5 million tons of diesel, meeting 20 percent of Turkey’s demand. This will decrease Turkey`s import of diesel by 40 percent. Star oil refinery will bring an annual profit of 614 million dollars to Azerbaijan in the first five years of operation. This revenue is expected to reach 864 million dollars annually in the next 10 years. Star will allow Turkey to cut its current foreign trade deficit by 1.5 billion dollars.
The facility will also allow Turkey to reduce gas imports to 70 percent. Depending on the price of oil, STAR will annually form a volume of trade in the amount of $6-8 billion. The refinery will create 1,100 jobs. It should also be emphasized that SOCAR has already invested $19.5 billion in Turkey, which makes it the country`s largest foreign investor. These figures show that apart from bringing economic profit, the inauguration of Star oil refinery is a geopolitically and geoeconomically landmark event. This was confirmed by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey who addressed the opening ceremony.
Speaking at the inauguration, the President of Azerbaijan said: ”I remember my dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan and I laying the foundation of Star in Aliaga seven years ago. And today we are celebrating the opening of this gigantic project together. This shows again that we are successfully achieving all the goals we set for ourselves. This shows again that the leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan have a strong political will to implement such gigantic projects. The main reason for the implementation of this project is Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and fraternity.’‘ This means that the project became a success story thanks to the two leaders’ firm political will and the two states` friendship and fraternity.
The fact that the Azerbaijani leader emphasized these points in his speech shows that the two countries are developing their relations taking into account present realities, global political trends and regional cooperation peculiarities. This also demonstrates that as an independent and sovereign state, Azerbaijan puts its national interests above all. The following remarks of the President are indicative of his strong political will and brilliant statehood building skills. The head of state told the opening ceremony of Star refinery: “…Turkish-Azerbaijani relations are at the highest level today. And this is natural, because we have lived together for centuries and have always been together. Some moments in history separated us, but that was only temporary. We were together a hundred years ago, before that and we are together today.“
From historical necessity to modernity: moving confidently toward regional leadership
In these brief remarks, the President emphasized a very important geopolitical point – Azerbaijan and Turkey should be together forever from the points of view of history, politics, geopolitics and cooperation. The two countries reunified after Azerbaijan restored its independence. While Azerbaijan and Turkey are independent and sovereign they will always be together! This is one of the important messages of Ilham Aliyev.
It is a source of pride that the Azerbaijani President makes these statements at the inauguration of major international projects directly implemented and involving Azerbaijan. Leaders of many states speak generally, without giving specific examples. However, the President of Azerbaijan speaks concretely. Ilham Aliyev’s recalling a military parade at the opening ceremony of Petkim needs to be comprehended exactly in this context. The President said: “In that military parade, Turkish and Azerbaijani soldiers valiantly marched along the largest square of Baku, Azadlig Square, shoulder to shoulder. 15 September 1918 is a historic date. It was on that day that the city of Baku was liberated from occupation by the Caucasian Islamic Army under the command of Nuri Pasha and the newly-created Azerbaijani National Army.”
The President of Turkey echoed his Azerbaijani counterpart`s views. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: ”With the opening of Star refinery, Turkey further strengthens the strategic aspect of its brotherly relations with Azerbaijan, which are exemplary. We continue our relations with Azerbaijan not only in the political area, but also maintain firm economic ties. This facility is one of the landmark and specific examples of our long-term work to cement our solidarity in energy sector.” Turkey believes that the importance of Star refinery is not confined to the economic aspect since it is a milestone geoeconomic event recognized by the world community. It is clear that the commissioning of Star will further strengthen the strategic aspect of Turkey-Azerbaijan relations. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: ”Every project led by Turkey and Azerbaijan consolidates our countries’ position as regional powers.”
We consider this as a serious geopolitical and geoeconomic triumph of the two countries that pursue pragmatic policies and maintain equal and mutually beneficial cooperation. Experts believe that every project implemented by Azerbaijan and Turkey contributes to regional and global cooperation, security, stability and reconciliation. Given these features, relations between the two states are exemplary and unique. Undoubtedly, the Azerbaijani and Turkish presidents gave a clear message to the world during their speeches at the inauguration of Star oil refinery. If certain powers forget about justice, objectivity and international law while they pursue their own goals in the South Caucasus, Ankara and Baku implement programs that benefit all sides. It is a striking example and a model for others! It is high time for the world to follow the example of Turkic states.
Read the Turkish translation from here.