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A pipeline war between Russia and Georgia2010-01-12 23:09
Georgia is again becoming a burr in the saddle for Russia. Today and tomorrow, the Turkish delegation is going to discuss the joint energy projects with the Russian government in Moscow including the South Stream project: a pipeline meant for the gas transit bypassing the unreliable Ukraine. Right afterwards, a summit of post-Soviet and post-socialistic countries is going to be held in Batumi to remind about the energy ways bypassing Russia, as well as to promote Victor Yushchenko before the elections.
The rapprochement between Russia and Turkey goes on. In response to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's last year visit to Ankara, the Turkish delegation led by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is going to arrive in Moscow today.
The two countries have agreed upon several joint projects in the Caucasus. For both countries, the alliance is a strong response to the pressure placed by Europe and the USA; it promises no good to Georgia, the favorite of the latter. Thus, Georgia keeps positioning itself as a vital transit state.
Last year, Turkey gave its consent for laying the South Stream pipeline in its waters. The project was initiated by the Russian Gazprom and the Italian Eni company. The pipe was to run along the bottom of the Black Sea from Novorossijsk to the Bulgarian port of Varna. Russia has already signed the intergovernmental agreements with Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece and Slovenia, along which territory the pipe is going to run.
Anyway, South Stream is opposed to Nabucco project developed by former USA President George Bush Sr. The European-American pipe was aimed to carry the gas from Azerbaijan and Middle Asia through Georgia to Europe bypassing Russia; the already available Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline is also going to be used.
Turkey takes part in both projects; it refers to them as mutually supplementing. Russia is also expected to be invited to take part in Nabucco.
However, the "anti-Russian" pipeline has not yet been provided even with a sound resource base. The issues of transporting the Turkish gas through the Caspian Sea have not yet been solved; Azerbaijan promised participation but its gas is almost completely contracted by Russia so far. Involving Iran is not yet authorized by Washington.
Before Erdogan's visit, former head of the Botash Turkish oil-and-gas corporation Mete Geknel suggested in his interview to the Voice of Russia radio station that the Nabucco project should not be discussed in Moscow.
The essential points of discussion should comprise the expansion of the Blue Stream, an operating gas pipeline between Russia and Turkey running along the bottom of the Black Sea, Gazprom's participation in the construction of the Samsun-Seyhan pipeline running through the Turkish territory, as well as the realization of the Turkish nuclear power plants construction projects.
Yerevan is closely watching the rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara. Last year, Turkey and Armenia made an agreement to mend relationship broken in the 90s and to open a joint border. However, Turkey related this issue to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. In its turn, Russia is acting as a mediator in the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Georgia is thoroughly watching Russia's policy in the Caucasus. As some experts believe, the loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has actually become the result of the struggle for the energy streams.