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The West exchanges Tbilisi for Baku2011-10-11 14:46
Azerbaijan differs from its neighbors in the South Caucasus very much. Despite Mikhail Saakashvili's statement about Sakartvelo's amazing development, Baku is the leader for economic growth among the former Soviet republics. While the financial crisis has walked throughout the planet, the share of the Azerbaijani economy in the region exceeded 80 percent. Its GDP became higher than in Georgia and Armenia together. Will the oil sector help to strengthen the political position of Mr. Aliyev on the international stage?
"The development is observed in all spheres of the economy, and evidence of this is that Azerbaijan, according to assess of the business environment, took first place among CIS countries in the next rating of "Forbes". The country experiences growth in the oil sector in such areas as industry, weaving, wood, paper and cardboard, chemical products and electrical equipment. So, if today Azerbaijan's GDP is $ 28 billion, the GDP of Georgia is $ 3.5 billion and Armenia's - $ 2.2 billion", said Minister of Economic Development Shahin Mustafayev at the meeting with the producers.
The share of hydrocarbons that come from Azerbaijan amounts 88.2 per cent of total country's exports. Not surprisingly that the Caspian oil attracts Western capitalists by its low price, easy production and compliancy of the government. The project Nabucco, which is being lobbied by the United States with help of European institutions of government, won't be viable without the aid of the countries of Central Asia. But while the former Soviet republics are speculating about who is their favorable ally - the U.S. or Russia - you can always play on the leadership's ambitions in the region.
Europe considers Baku, Ashgabat and Astana as alternative energy suppliers, so the prosperity of Azerbaijan pleases American administration. Georgia, as an important site of transport and gas lines, had not justified the confidence of American overlord. Construction of Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines, bypassing the transiters of Russian natural gas, doesn't allow Tbilisi to become a serious geopolitical player in the South Caucasus.
In addition, a huge foreign debt which Georgian government is unable to serve, together with the president, whose conduct embarrasses the leaders of many countries, are forcing the White House to seek other, more reliable partners. Despite the conflict of Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, Aliyev seems more acceptable figure for building new U.S. policy in the Caucasus, since Washington's failure in connection with a restart of the Russian-American relations has become increasingly clear. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are linked to Moscow by the Organization of Collective Security Treaty and they are unlikely dare on confrontation with the Kremlin, even economic. And there is no sin to use the potential of official Baku.
Thus, Azerbaijan's GDP is higher than indicators in Armenia and Georgia for a few times. Its population size (since it is a serious consumer market) also exceeds the number of inhabitants of the other two Caucasian republics - 9 million people. For ten years, the economy has added an average of 13.6 percent annually, while GDP per capita at purchasing power parity amounts almost $ 7 thousand - almost twice more than in Georgia.