Aliyev pins hopes on Russia for oil export routes

RIA Novosti, Russia
April 29 2004


STRASBOURG, April 29 (RIA Novosti) – As co-chair of the OSCE Minsk
group, Russia can do much for Karabakh settlement, said President
Ilkham Aliev of Azerbaijan. He was addressing a news conference at
the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg.

The President hopes for Russia to join hands with the USA and France,
other Minsk group co-chairs, together to step up Karabakh conflict
extinguishing efforts. Russia has an ample chance to gain prominence
in the efforts thanks to its long-established friendly contacts with
Azerbaijan and Armenia, the two contenders for Karabakh.

President Aliev shifts entire responsibility for the conflict on
Armenia. As he emphatically said, “Azerbaijan will never recognise
independence of the self-proclaimed Karabakh Republic, and will never
tolerate it joining Armenia, either.” He made a strong call to
reinstate Azeri territorial integrity.

Azeri petroleum exports were another principal theme of the news
conference. Their northern route, via Russia, needs much improvement.
At present, an annual 2.5 million tonnes of Azeri oil is going abroad
by the Baku-Novorossiisk mainline, and another six million by the
Baku-Supsa. Both terminals are Russia’s and Georgia’s Black Sea
ports, respectively. The figures the President quoted concerned only
an Azeri government oil-drilling company, with no account for
expatriate companies in Azerbaijan, he pointed out.

Another mainline is being laid from Baku to Ceyhan, Turkish terminal
in the East Mediterranean. Azeri exports may amount to fifty million
tonnes a year after the line is commissioned toward next year’s end.
“This does not mean we shall give up the Baku-Novorossiisk line-a
route which has to be improved,” said Mr. Aliev.

An Azeri-Russian ad hoc team is weighing up prospective improvements,
he added.