Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev stated in the presence of Ukrainian journalists in Baku that he favors Ukraine’s proposal to transit Caspian oil to European markets. Azerbaijan considers the Ukrainian route as one of several required for the export of Caspian oil, Aliev said. He also stressed Ukraine’s prospect to serve as a major link in the Europe-Caucasus-Central Asia transport corridor. Moreover, Azerbaijan and Ukraine hold identical views on CIS and international issues, Aliev remarked. He announced that he will discuss the oil and other transit issues with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma at a meeting on August 9 in Crimea.
Significantly, Aliev made these remarks at the briefing which followed his talks with Russia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov. During those talks, Aliev reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s support for the planned “main” export pipeline via Turkey, which Moscow opposes. (Russian agencies, July 29 and 30; and the Monitor, July 30) Aliev’s response to the Ukrainian proposal confirms that Baku regards it as a potential complement, not a rival, to the Turkish main route. Ukraine’s offer to transit some of the Caspian oil directly to Europe (see the Monitor, July 23-24) can spell the final doom of the circuitous Novorossiisk route, which Russia advocates mainly for political reasons.
LORTKIPANIDZE TAKING CHARGE OF GEORGIA’S CABINET OF MINISTERS.