«Gazprom» Exiled from the Caspian Region

The balance of powers has started changing expressly. In the middle of September the EU Council approved the mandate of the talks of the EU with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on conclusion of legally binding treaty on Transcaspian gas pipeline construction. As Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger declared, the access of the EU to the pre-Caspian region and Central Asia becomes a key issue from now on. Transcaspian gas pipeline is considered to be a part of NABUCCO gas pipeline which is represented by West as an alternative to the “South Stream”. In this respect Brussels declared that it is ready to get down to the operations on preparing the countries of Caspian region and Transcaucasia to the reality of negotiations, and to start specific talks with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. In this respect Iran has reminded: “Development of transport infrastructure in Caspian region, as well as hydrocarbons transportation is the exclusive prerogative of only pre-Caspian states”.

The Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs also demonstrated its reaction. It evaluated this decision of the EU as the “attempts to interfere into Caspian issue from the outside”, the “intention to perform the first practice in Caspian region, with the shores of which no EU state borders". In the middle of October Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council on the issues of interaction with the EU and the troubles of Transcaspian gaspipeline. The Head of Russia underlined that, Russia has to develop its line clearly and “inform about it our Caspian partners in case of adoption these or that decisions”.
The decision was made. Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a number of gas treaties related to the second stage of the project “Shakh-Deniz”. “We signed a treaty with Azerbaijan which shall change the existing balance in the region, - declared the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey Taner Yildiz. – Also we included into the treaty the issue of new pipeline construction. This pipeline is a powerful alternative. But it is not intended against NABUCCO". And against whom? Analyzing this treaty, Azerbaijani experts in energy call them “historic for Baku as well as Ankara, Europe and the states of Caspian basin, as Baku gains a direct corridor for the flow of its gas to Europe around Russia”. Now it doesn’t matter whether the gas pipeline Italy – Turkey – Greece shall be constructed. The main thing is that Ankara with Baku stand together with the EU in one line, pressing “Gazprom”.  But for the new Turkish-Azerbaijani project to work out, Baku should be sure that the situation about Iran, which possesses the second biggest stocks of gas in the world, is “frozen”. In addition the expensive long-term energy ways laid by Azerbaijan, “preserve” also Karabakh conflict till “better times”.
In this respect, curious is the declaration of the newly elected OSCE General Secretary Lamberto Zannier. He called Turkey to “offer political assistance within regulation of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”. “I confirm the fact – there is no progress. Something is missing ", - considers Zannier. And exactly what? According to Zannier, "it is the involvement of Turkey into this project ", as Turkey “borders with the both parties to the conflict, which allows Turkey to create conditions of dialogue development”. As for the OSCE mission then to the mind of Zannier it should cover “prevention of conflict escalation”.
Who can be an initiator of such a conflict? Considering the changes of new balance of powers, launching of energy projects of geopolitical character, Baku is least interested in war now. Moreover, Azerbaijan by certain conditions can support Turkey within the process of ratification of Zurich protocols, anticipating normalization of relations between Ankara and Yerevan. Then, as Zannier recommends, it can undertake an attempt to transfer the negotiation process on Karabakh regulation into the format of three-party dialogue Ankara-Yerevan-Baku, abolishing the OSCE Minsk Group. In this sense emphatic is the fragment from the comment of Azerbaijani agency Day.az: “In case of Karabakh conflict regulation the boarders with Turley shall open immediately, by this without any Zurich protocols”. Armenia without delays shall be involved into regional integration processes, communication-energy projects to be accomplished in South Caucasus. Immediately Armenia shall become a part of transport corridor East-West and North-South. And then investments shall really flow into Armenia".
That is why the visit of Catherine Ashton to Baku and Yerevan can become a significant political event. But earlier it stated that “the only format for Karabakh problem regulation is the OSCE Minsk Group”. Now everything can change. Probably this will be the “news” about which warned the main negotiator from Europe during the talks on association between Armenia and the EU Gunnar Wiegand.


World media monitoring