Armenia looks to counterbalance major Azeri oil pipeline project

May 27, 2005 02:00 AM

Armenia should look for opportunities to restore the balance of forces in the South Caucasus region which was breached due to the launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Armenian MPs said at a briefing in the National Assembly.
The head of the parliamentary faction of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), Galust Saakyan, pointed out that the processes happening in the neighbouring republic of Azerbaijan cannot affect the situation in Armenia. But he said the exploitation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and Azerbaijan's economic development would have a favourable impact on the development of the whole of the region in general.

Commenting on the signing of an agreement on the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi railway, Saakyan said that this project is not directed against any third country and does not pursue any political aims.
"I am confident that the goal of the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi railway is to meet the communication needs of Georgia and Turkey," the head of the RPA faction said.

In turn, the head of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation -- Dashnaktsutyun (ARFD) faction, Levon Mkrtchyan, said that the neighbours' efforts to sideline Armenia from regional projects will boomerang against these countries since the difficult situation in which Armenia has found itself because of its neighbours' fault, hinders the development of the whole of the region. At the same time, Mkrtchyan said that the exploitation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline did not disturb the balance of forces in the region.
The head of the ARFD faction also said that Armenia should find a counterbalance to the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. The MP said that an Iran-Armenia gas pipeline and Armenia's economic development could provide such a counterbalance.

The head of the commission for state legal issues, Rafik Petrosyan, said that Armenia should expand intensively cooperation with Iran and Asian countries to counterbalance the exploitation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.
The secretary of the opposition Justice bloc, Viktor Dallakyan, said that Armenia has been sidelined from all regional programs. He pointed out that Armenia could be completely isolated as a result of the possible construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi railway. He added that Azerbaijan and Turkey will receive $ 1.5 bn and Georgia $ 650 mm from the exploitation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline this year alone.

Dallakyan believes that the situation has exacerbated further after the signing of an agreement between the USA, Britain, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey on the joint defence of the oil pipeline in case of regional tension.
Dallakyan pointed out that the only way out of the current situation for Armenia was the democratic and economic development of the country.

Source: Armenian News Network
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