“The most bitter cigarette.” How Europe’s gas dependence is a hazard for democracy
Mike Runey writes in Eurasianet about the European experience with the Southern Gas Corridor from Azerbaijan, illustrating the risks for Europe in attempting to find alternative sources to Russian energy. The $40 billion system of pipelines was approved over widespread objections, the criticisms of which have largely come to fruition. The loans and receipts gave the authoritarian regime in Azerbaijan additional resources to tighten its hold on power, and the project has taken a significant environmental toll in communities living near major gas facilities. Against these significant costs to democracy and living standards, the benefit for the EU has been minor, as the pipeline is capable of meeting only a fraction of energy demand. The author urges the EU to consider the mistakes made in this process and to not repeat them in this era of democratic decline.