EU starts talks on Trans-Caspian pipeline
At a meeting in New York late last week the chairman of the European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso has invited the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to visit Brussels in “anytime.”
The reason for such a warm relationship – in the EU’s intention to begin negotiations in October on the construction of the Trans-Caspian pipeline that would connect Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. However, experts believe that Europe has little chance to promote your project.
Issues of cooperation in the energy sector has become a priority during a meeting in New York Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and President Jose Manuel Barroso. Turkmen president invited the European companies “to a wide mutually advantageous cooperation in energy sector.” According to the press service of the Turkmen State Berdimuhamedov assured his interlocutor that “imposing the country’s capacity allows for the implementation of large-scale international projects that benefit all parties involved.”
Support for Berdimuhamedov Barroso today than ever. In early September, the EC gave a mandate to start negotiations on the preparation of an agreement between the European Union, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the implementation of the Trans-Caspian project.Negotiations between the parties will begin in October, and Brussels hopes the agreement signed before the end of the year, and get gas – in 2017. The project implementation would weaken the EU energy dependence on Russia, providing today, according to the German agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), about a quarter of the European market.In Brussels convinced that the Trans-Caspian pipeline project is important both from the standpoint of diversification of EU energy imports and to diversify exports to the position of Baku and Ashgabat.
Recall that the project involves laying a 300-kilometer gas pipeline under the Caspian Sea from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan’s coast, where it will be connected to the “Southern Gas Corridor.” This project was developed in 1996 as an alternative to the Russian-Turkish project “Blue Stream”. The appearance of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline coincided with the announcement by the U.S. Black Sea-Caspian region a zone of its strategic interests.
Laying pipes under the Caspian prevents its unsettled status and the positions of Moscow and Tehran, which strongly opposed the project. “Therefore, the question of whether to help solve the problem of the new mandate of the EU remains open,” – said during the conference “paradigms of international cooperation in the Caspian Sea”, held recently in Aktau, a leading expert of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Alexander Knyazev. In his view, to Moscow and Tehran may well join Astana – Kazakhstan has a low profile and its relation to the project had not yet formulated. In particular, as stated by Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kairat Sarybai, “we have not yet worked out a position on this issue in order to promulgate it.” “I can only say that we, the littoral countries have agreed to: the legal status of the Caspian Sea to solve only a five-party format,” – said Sarybai.
Kazakh diplomat statement does not fit into the context of the EU’s claim that “for the construction of the Trans-Caspian pipeline is enough of bilateral agreements between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.” According to the director of the center “PolitKontakt” Andrei Medvedev, the “utopian to imagine that the pipeline will be built in the absence of consent of all five Caspian littoral states.” “For Ashgabat neighborly relations with Tehran is more important than risk a quarrel with him because of Trans-Caspian” – thinks Medvedev.According to him, if ever in Iran’s pro-Western regime will be replaced by, then it is preferable to lay the pipe from the Turkmen fields through Iran’s Caspian lowland, than under the Caspian Sea – “this and taking into account the cost, and environmental and technical solutions.”
For all this, experts believe that the activation of the Caspian region of non-regional players enhances the tension. “We are seeing not just a desire of the EU to diversify energy supplies, but also a deliberate provocation of the conflict in the Caspian Sea, which can subsequently be used to convert it into an armed plane. It is easy to assume that Russia and Iran can veto the construction of any pipeline under the Caspian Sea and to enforce the veto. It is difficult to assume that in such a situation, someone from the Caspian states will not submit – already patrolling the waters of the Caspian Iranian and Russian fleets, each of which is superior in strength and power of the aggregate of all other navies of the Caspian “, – said Alexander Knyazev.