Russian charges that Turkish rules on shipping in the crucial Turkish Straits were not in line with international regulations were sharply rejected by Turkey yesterday. "Turkey’s national regulations are in fact in line with rules and recommendations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)," a Foreign Ministry statement said. Russia claimed at IMO’s conference last week that the rules which Turkey introduced last year for shipping through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and in the Marmara Sea were causing economic damage, primarily to the states bordering the sea. (11)
Turkey tightened safety rules for ships sailing through the Straits in July 1994 because of fears of an environmental catastrophe in this narrow passage through the city of Istanbul and Turkey’s most densely populated region. A fire earlier that year caused by the collision of two cargo vessels, one of them carrying crude oil, killed nearly 20 people and blocked Bosphorus traffic for a week. Turkey’s rules stipulate that ships with oil and dangerous cargo must give notice of their intention to sail. Large vessels are fined if they move without permission, and supertankers are banned. Russia objects to the rules primarily because they prevent the transport of Caspian oil from Russia to the West by tanker through the Straits. Unavailability of that route would jeopardize Moscow’s plan to divert Caspian oil to Russia, correspondingly strengthening Turkey’s case for the most direct and economic route by pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Turkey.
EBRD to Help Improve Gas Industry.