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On Azerbaijan visit, UAE's MBZ quietly expands influence into South Caucasus

The two-day visit carries both geostrategic and economic implications regarding the energy partnership, which go far beyond the bilateral dimension, spanning from South Caucasus to Israel and Europe.
mbz baku

BAKU — The burgeoning energy partnership between the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan was a major highlight of Mohammed bin Zayed, the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), two-day official visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, on Jan. 8 and 9. The implications of the energy partnership go far beyond the bilateral dimension, spanning from South Caucasus to Israel and Europe. This also makes the geopolitics around the bilateral partnership impossible to ignore.

European dimension of the UAE-Azerbaijan green energy partnership

Through advancing their partnership with Azerbaijan in the renewable energy sector, the UAE gains an opportunity to participate in electricity exports to European Union (EU) markets. Indeed, the presidents of the UAE and Azerbaijan — Mohammad bin Zayed and Ilham Aliyev, respectively — witnessed on Jan. 9 the signing of the “Framework Agreement on Strategic Cooperation on enhancing the use of renewable and clean energy potential of Azerbaijan and enabling green energy export operations.” This forms a legal basis for the UAE’s engagement in the electricity exports from Azerbaijan.

Currently, Azerbaijan exports electricity to Georgia, Turkey, Russia and Iran. Baku and its European partners are currently making plans concerning the export of electricity to EU consumers. Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary and Romania have signed an agreement to build a 1,100-km-long submarine cable beneath the Black Sea to supply electricity to Europe via Georgia. This idea was floated several years ago but has become more relevant following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has praised the importance of the agreement for the energy security of the EU as well as for Ukraine, Moldova and Western Balkans.

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