Non-alignment and Azerbaijan’s Energy Export Policy

The question of a relationship between Azerbaijan’s role in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and its energy export strategy is examined. The article explains why neorealistand neoliberal theoretical approaches are unsuitable for analysing nascent middle powers such as Azerbaijan in the post-Cold War era. Regime Theory is explored to see if it may offer a better account of Azerbaijani energy policy. To contextualize such an assessment, the article first reviews the NAM’s history and its relation to the Group of Seventy-seven (G77). It then discusses the history of Azerbaijan’s energy strategy to 2011, when it joined the NAM, and then examines trends in Azerbaijani diplomacy since then. The concept of ‘strategic hedging’ further unpacks reasons why neorealism and neoliberalism fail to provide a good understanding of Azerbaijani international behaviour. Azerbaijan’s international energy policy was set into long-term motion more than a decade before the country joined the NAM. It is directed at economic rather than security goals. Co-operation with Western states and companies does not contradict the pursuit of international prestige and middle power status that characterize Azerbaijan’s participation in the NAM. It is not NAM based prestige that might affect Azerbaijan’s energy policy, but rather energy policy that is put into service to enhance relations with other nonaligned states.

Authors: Robert M. Cutler