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Energy analysts comment on US proposal to mediate in Turkmen-Azerbaijan disputes over Caspian Sea status

19 November 2009 [16:56] - TODAY.AZ
US energy analysts in Washington DC are skeptical about United States proposal to mediate in Turkmen-Azerbaijan disputes over the Caspian Sea status.
“This is a long standing offer from US Government going back 20 years to all the littoral states of the Caspian," Edward C. Chow, energy analyst at Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

The United States offers its mediating mission in Turkmen-Azerbaijan disputes over the Caspian status, Senior Adviser to U.S. State Department Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Affairs Daniel Stein said at a press conference in Ashgabat yesterday.

Speaking about the roots of the problem, Mr. Chow reminded that this summer Turkmenistan’s president said that his country might apply to international court to solve the disputes over the Caspian sea .

“It takes two countries to agree to international arbitration; it is not something one country can unilaterally demand," expert added.

Commenting on US’ initiative, Mr. Chow says that, “part of what Dan Stein is referring to is that Ashgabat and Baku can bilaterally agree to let certain oil and gas development proceed in their disputed sector without a five-party agreement. For example, the Russians and Kazakhs are already proceeding with joint field development in their connected sector”.

Another expert, Senior Fellow of Peterson Institute for International Economics Anders Aslund believes that, the main aid the US can provide is simply political and diplomatic: to engage with the countries in the region and clearly pronounce its position of open and alternative pipelines to avoid Gazprom monopoly.

“It remains to be seen if this constitutes a long-term change of Ashgabat position or whether continued talks and discussions can return the situation to the positive climate that was dominant before." Svante Cornell, Research Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute said.

He stressed that “in a gradual and broader improvement of relations between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan that is not only in the energy sphere, which builds trusts and networks of contacts between the countries and particularly their leadership. That will necessarily take time."

“Unfortunately, at the moment, Baku and Ashgabat are in the midst of a dispute over Caspian basin reserves. I hope the US government underlines the importance of export diversification for Turkmenistan, particularly the Western-oriented option, probably Nabucco, due to the fact that unlike options to China and Russia, the Western-oriented route brings with it all kinds of related investment, diplomatic links and incentives for regional integration and strengthened independence” Alexandros Petersen, Associate Director of Eurasia Energy Center at Atlantic Council of the United States, said.

He mentioned that the primary objective of the U.S. in terms of Eurasia’s energy geopolitics is to see the development of market-oriented projects, particularly those that simultaneously open the countries of the Black Sea-Caspian region to world markets and global diplomatic links, and tie the EU and Eurasian countries more closely together.

“This policy does not exclude Russia. So far, it is Russian policies that have excluded Russia from a process of greater energy and political independence for the countries of Eurasia."


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