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Zaman Online: "Trans-Caspian gas pipeline being warmed up again"

09 May 2006 [18:30] - TODAY.AZ
Article by Mirza Cetinkaya, published in Turkey's Zaman Online edition.

No one knows how it happened, but the poor watchmen of the rich energy resources in Central Asia were convinced that they would be granted independence, given houses and cars in the early 1990s, exactly the same way former Prime Minister and President Suleyman Demirel did in Turkey. I witnessed this development personally; the people lived for a few years with the dream of becoming Kuwaitis.

As Russia did not act in accordance with the wishes of the United States over the issue of punishing Iran, Russia's "democracy problem" all of a sudden occurred on US Vice President Dick Cheney's mind and he made "energik" contacts that enthused Central Asia.

The US administration plans to transport the energy resources in the Central Asia and Caspian regions to European countries through Turkey, and bypass Russia. According to the project at issue, the pipeline that will start from Kazakhstan will pass through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Bulgaria. If you look at the pipeline's route, it looks a little bit like the migrations in Central Asia. This movement can be called another try at Trans-Caspian.

The Israeli company Merhav, having entered Turkmenistan with projects on protecting agriculture and combatting desertification, had been preparing a project on how to transport Turkmen gas to the West under the Caspian Sea. However, the Trans-Caspian project was shelved as a result of Russia's and Iran's opposition and the Blue Stream Project was implemented instead.

All these events appear normal when you view them as attempts by several countries trying to meet their needs themselves. However, the energy struggle among the world's big powers has turned pipelines into strategic objects. Natural resources, money and technology are not enough. Justness is determined by help coming from a certain source.

How realistic is Trans-Caspian from this perspective?

It appears impossible when you scan the plan. There is the Russia-Iran bloc that both the US and the West are trying to eliminate. Nobody can start a Trans-Caspian construction without the Tehran's technical approval and Moscow's consent because, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Caspian Sea which is devoid of a status among the five neighboring countries is surrounded by Russia in the north and by Iran in the south. Moreover, the fleets of the two countries are specially being strengthened every passing day. Who can invest in such a pipeline and who would provide the insurance without Moscow's and Tehran's approval?

It's not finished yet... Germany will buy gas through the line laid down under the Baltic Sea. It is clearly obvious that the natural gas provided by Gazprom does not meet Turkey's needs.

The US administration wants to encourage Central Asia, the Caucasus and Turkey on Trans-Caspian within plans to counter Gazprom, which shows that the United States is addicted to its policy of "preventive measures".

After a bad experience with the Trans-Caspian pipeline, the Turkmen administration made Beijing add a sentence to Article 5 stipulating that the "Chinese government will carry out consultancy talks in order to reach an agreement for the benefit of all the parties concerned and with the governments of transit countries where the pipeline will be laid." With his policies, US President George W. Bush is about to take oil prices to an all-time high. It appears Cheney wants to try his luck on natural gas.

By Mirza Cetinkaya



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