The TRACECA agreement discussed and signed in Baku on September 8 (see the Monitor, September 9) prompted impassioned objections from the Russian delegation. Arguing that it would be wrong to renounce the “historic” transit routes from Asia to Europe via Russia, chief delegate Yevgeny Kazantsev urged retention of those Soviet-era routes. His attempt to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and reliability of those routes were challenged by other delegations, notably that of Uzbekistan.
Alluding to Russia’s opposition to TRACECA, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze observed that those who “seek to monopolize the transit and dictate their own terms have spurred us to seek alternative routes.” The effort, he said, demonstrates that “we [the TRACECA partners] prefer an expansion of foreign capital and technology over anyone’s military expansion into our countries.”
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma urged including the Ukrainian transit route for Caspian oil in the TRACECA project. Observing that the location of potential markets for Caspian oil necessitates more than one pipeline, Kuchma called for the formation of an international consortium to create the oil export route from the Caucasus via the Black Sea and Ukraine to Central Europe. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze supported the proposal. Aliev agreed with Kuchma that the Ukrainian route is complementary to, not a competitor of, the planned Turkish route for Azerbaijani oil. (International and Russian agencies, September 9)
KYRGYZSTAN PERHAPS TO RECOGNIZE TALIBAN GOVERNMENT.