Press gauges pipeline’s impact on region

Press gauges pipeline’s impact on region

BBC
Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 02:23 GMT 03:23 UK

Baku’s ever expanding oil skyline

There’s a clash of views in Azerbaijan’s newspapers over the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. But both pro-government and
opposition press agree it will make a huge impact on the post-Soviet
republic’s future.

Russian and Armenian papers see the pipeline as a bolster for US
influence in the region and a sign of Russia’s waning influence.
Turkish papers agree, but look forward to the financial rewards.

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The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which was once perceived as a myth,
is no longer just a project, but a reality and a milestone for
independent Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan’s pro-government Markaz

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[Former Azerbaijani President] Heydar Aliyev chose a successful oil
strategy by opting for the BTC [Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline]. The
pipeline was important not just because of its economic viability, but
also because of its priority in Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. This was
an open message that the country will be integrated into Euro-Atlantic
entities and this course will remain unchanged.

Azerbaijan’s pro-government Olaylar

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It is difficult to convince anyone that billions of oil dollars will
reach the people of Azerbaijan with the current ruling bureaucracy in
power and in conditions of corruption… The start of big oil exports
from Azerbaijan has raised the issue of change to the country’s
political regime.

Azerbaijan’s pro-opposition Mustaqil Qazet

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The political games played by the authorities in the run-up to the
opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline may seriously worry the
biggest shareholder in the project, BP. The fact that the authorities
have declared that the pipeline will be guarded not by Nato, but by
weak, non-professional and corrupt domestic security agencies puts the
operation of the pipeline under threat.

Azerbaijan’s pro-opposition Yeni Musavat

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Baku says “No” to Russia, but “Yes” to America… It seems any
strengthening of Russian military force in Armenia is as unacceptable
to Azerbaijan as it is to the West. But this year Baku intends to
accommodate US servicemen on its territory.

Russian pro-government Rossiyskaya Gazeta

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The US is focusing on the Caspian in order to gain control of the oil
in the region. It intends to achieve this aim through
Azerbaijan… The very frequency of contacts between US administration
representatives and Azerbaijan’s leadership gives reason to believe
that the US has decided to gain access to the riches of the Caspian
through the “gates of Baku”.

However, it seems Baku has not yet taken a final decision as to
whether to open them to the Pentagon or not… And the US is clearly
implying that there will be a “coloured revolution” if Baku does not
meet American demands.

Russian Defence Ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda

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Even if the Americans manage to get the required volume of oil from
Kazakhstan in 2008 (there are simply no such volumes in Azerbaijan),
the oil that will go from Ceyhan to Europe will all the same be twice
as expensive as Arab or Russian oil. Thus, Azerbaijan instead of
becoming a trump card in the “economic war” will simply turn into an
“economic excuse” for the US to establish itself in the region.

This is a process which, under the pretext of “guarding the oil
pipeline”, may end in the deployment of Nato mobile forces in the
region… Once the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline starts to operate, the US will
have achieved its purpose: the withdrawal of Russia from the region,
i.e. it will settle an important geopolitical issue under the cover of
an economic project.

Armenian newspaper Ayots Ashkar

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When the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline functions with full capacity it will
carry 1bn barrels. This pipeline is a part of the US administration’s
project to control Middle Eastern oil… Our part in this project is
having the pipeline on our territory. Our benefit is the annual
commission per barrel… an opportunity to receive 200m dollars on
average a year.

Turkey’s Milliyet, commentary by Gungor Uras

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television,
press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than
70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus
abroad.

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