Azerbaijan has backed away from the purchase of the Greek gas transmission system operator DESFA. Indeed, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) demanded the Greek government to reduce further the purchase price, but Greece refused, stating it was bound by legal constrains.
In 2013, SOCAR, which wanted access to the European Union and European lucrative gas networks, won a tender for the purchase of a 66% stake in DESFA for €400m.
DESFA owns and operates Greek’s sole high-pressure gas transmission network, Greece’s only LNG terminal and transports gas in the Greek territory through its network.
The Greek government announced on November 30 that although in recent months there have been continuous talks with representatives of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic and Italy’s Snam companies for the sale of 66% of Greek gas transmission system operator DESFA, the deal was not concluded. SOCAR demanded a reduction of the sale price, to less than €400m. The Greeks said such reduction would be illegal. Consequently, the sale was cancelled.
Azeris knew that the Greeks were bound by law to grant any price reduction, which indicates the cancellation of the deal was premeditated.
According to New Europe sources in the Caspian region, the power games in the Azeri Presidential Administration and the entourage of President Ilham Aliyev are frequent and tough. The President is in favour of opening the country to Europe while the “political dinosaurs” inherited from the Soviet years and their offspring are blocking any process to democratisation.
In this context, if Aliyev were able to bring the necessary changes to modernise the state machine and give an end to corruption and to violation of basic human rights, the country would enter into real westernisation. This would mean the end of all, old and young Marxist-minded associates, opening the road of the country to Europe.
However, this close circle of “associates” has proven stronger than the president himself and Azerbaijan remains isolated from the western world. In particular, the isolation of this Caspian country from Europe is becoming obvious in Brussels. An increasing number of MEPs from the two big political families in the European Parliament (EPP and S&D) has demanded political action for Azerbaijan’s poor human right record.