On her second visit to Georgia in the space of one month, Turkish prime minister Tansu Ciller conferred with Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi August 31 on the transportation of Azerbaijani early oil to the West via Georgia and Turkey. The initial amounts will be 5 million tons annually, starting in late 1996, and the route would mostly use existing Georgian pipelines which would have to be upgraded. In addition, Ciller agreed to open a $150 million credit line to Georgia and to defer Georgia’s repayment of an earlier $50 million Turkish loan, Interfax and Western agencies reported. These and other recent steps to organize the transport of Azeri oil via Turkey appear to decrease the chances of a decision in favor of the Russian route, at least for the bulk of early oil.
Azerbaijan Seeks Closer Ties to Turkic Countries.