Turkey Having Trouble Finding Alternatives To Russian Gas

With Russian-Turkish relations bottoming out after Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet last November, Ankara is scrambling to reduce its dependency on Russian gas. But the help it needs from post-Soviet energy producers may not be swift in coming.

The Caspian Sea state of Azerbaijan, Turkey’s closest ally in the post-Soviet region, was the first place Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu [sic] visited after the November 24 downing incident. And most recently, Davuto?lu [sic] met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Davos on January 20.

“Two nations, one people” is a popular mantra that officials in both Turkey and Azerbaijan use to describe their relationship. And yet when it comes to energy, there seems to be limits to this unity. Continue reading

Oops: Azerbaijan released election results before voting had even started

One has to at least appreciate Russia for keeping a lid on who was chosen before elected until the right time.

Azerbaijan’s big presidential election, held on Wednesday, was anticipated to be neither free nor fair. President Ilham Aliyev, who took over from his father 10 years ago, has stepped up intimidation of activists and journalists. Rights groups are complaining about free speech restrictions and one-sided state media coverage. The BBC’s headline for its story on the election reads “The Pre-Determined President.” So expectations were pretty low.

Even still, one expects a certain ritual in these sorts of authoritarian elections, a fealty to at least the appearance of democracy, if not democracy itself. So it was a bit awkward when Azerbaijan’s election authorities released vote results – a full day before voting had even started. Continue reading