The Changing Geopolitics of the Caspian and the Trans-Caspian Corridor: “What Kind of a Common Future in the Opportunities-Threats Dilemma”

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Multidimensional crises experienced on a global basis have begun to bring new multidimensional threats and risks for the whole world. In addition to direct war, indirect warfare methods and practices (in more concrete terms, proxy and hybrid wars), beyond socio-economic problems for countries, cause a great chaos in the international system with the political earthquakes that these will cause; therefore, if it cannot be prevented, it points to a great destruction for all humanity. Because the crises, which manifest themselves with energy security, bring many different security problems, including food and health, to the agenda.

In this context, the issue of logistics and corridors/routes has become much more important for all actors in the construction process of the new international system. For this reason, it is possible that the “edge belt” weighted “power-building” “power-maintaining” approach until yesterday has been replaced by a new strategy that directly targets corridors/routes. As a matter of fact, we have been witnessing direct or indirect interventions in countries that have a key position on the north-south, east-west routes, including border belt countries.

As a result of these interventions, we see that many existing or potential corridors and routes (even under projects) are targeted, unsafe, and their costs are increasing day by day. While the increasing uncertainty and ongoing crises on these routes increase the burden of existing corridors, they also cause serious logistical problems for countries that depend on these corridors. This deeply shakes the economic-commercial based social-political balances of countries, especially inflation, all over the world.

Therefore, there is a need for new safe and short-distance alternatives that will respond to needs more quickly, with less cost, not only in terms of transport but also in terms of energy security. European countries, which are largely deprived of both of these issues, undoubtedly come first among those who feel the need. It is necessary to state here in advance; the effects of not only direct consequences of Russia-Ukraine’s war on their own countries in this pursuit of Europe, but also the effects of actors such as USA turning this war/crisis into an opportunity in every respect.

Trans-Caspian as Supply and Route in Energy-Logistics Security

Due to these sudden changes in international environment and increasing uncertainties, it cannot be considered as a coincidence that the Trans-Caspian region has come to forefront as a reliable “source/supply” and “route/corridor” point for the whole world, especially for Europe. This multidimensional search for security underlies the increasing interest of Europe, which has ignored this region until yesterday. Because, as partly mentioned above, the latest developments in the Eurasian geography are of great importance not only for the region in question, but also for the rest of the world, especially Europe.

On the other hand, what kind of results this “geopolitical interest” will bring with it will undoubtedly depend on common stance that the states of the region will put forward here. As it is known, Caspian stood out as one of the “addresses of insolvency” in new geopolitics until recent years that emerged after the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The fact that a significant part of states of region have peacefully resolved their conflicts on basis of “friendship” in recent years, undoubtedly points to a new process not only for the riparian countries but also for the Trans-Caspian. Because the “crisis-weary” countries in the region want cooperation, not new problems, and they aim to achieve this in the interest of the whole world, especially their close circles, within the framework of a win-win understanding.

Caspian Countries Don’t Want “Irregular-Artificial Problems”

The states of the region are now very clearly aware of this: In today’s reality, routes and corridors are not only economic-commercial in the context of energy-transit transportation; It is also of great importance in terms of regional security, stability and therefore the construction/development of common development-welfare and cultural areas. As a matter of fact, it is observed that the search for cooperation of the member states towards the Trans-Caspian Corridor, that is, the Central Transport Corridor, starting from China and extending to Europe, has increased through both bilateral and multiple agreements. Because, as much as the region itself, this corridor is of great importance for South Asia, where China and even the Pakistan-India duo are at the center. This issue underlies the increasing interest of both countries towards Trans-Caspian via Trans-Afghan.

Another point that states of the region are aware of is this: The attempt to create new “unsolvable problem areas/issues” in Caspian through some artificial and inappropriate issues in an environment where existing problems in Caspian have been largely resolved cannot be accepted as goodwill. In this context, for example, the claim that the pipelines to be passed through the Caspian will cause an ecological problem in the Caspian is, frankly, tantamount to mocking and ignoring existing science-technology and practices. Because Hazar will not be first application area in this regard. To date, there are pipelines that have been passed under the sea in many parts of the world, especially in Black Sea (Blue Stream and Turkish Stream) and Baltics (Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2), are at project stage at point of passing, and they have not been addresses of an ecological problem until today.

In conclusion, we can say that “Resource Wars”, which have emerged as a result of an imperialist understanding from past to present, have a tendency to deepen in wider geographies together with “Corridor/Route Wars”, in this context we can say that Caspian region, as one of new addresses of power struggle, is seen as a potential crisis area and target for the said imperial powers. At this point, there are not many options for the “Caspian Basin States”. They will either be involved in the cooperation process together and accelerate it or they will stay out of it. Otherwise, with possible involvement of non-regional actors in crisis, a picture will emerge such as the “internationalization of the Caspian Problem” and therefore region’s drifting into much greater chaos, and frankly, this will be a development that no regional state would desire and it is definitely not in their interests.

Therefore, at this point, it is necessary to accelerate the solution process originating from the Caspian, and at this point, develop and strengthen the multidimensional understanding of constructive cooperation towards the Trans-Caspian Corridor, namely the Middle Transport Corridor, and make this corridor functional as soon as possible. The actor (or actors) in question must now understand that some efforts and searches to prevent the “strong will” that manifests itself in this context in region will not yield any results. Concrete examples of this have been seen recently. Therefore, to express once again, the actor who insists on point of no solution in Caspian is doomed to be alone in this new process, in changing geopolitics. Therefore, in the context of the Trans-Caspian Corridor, the actors will either be involved in this cooperation process or face the losses of being excluded. Because the region is tired of no solution and radically rejects the understanding of “no solution is the solution”.