Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 174

Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev, accompanied by a large governmental delegation, conferred in Baku and Tbilisi with his counterparts, Haydar Aliev and Eduard Shevardnadze, on developing cooperation among the Transcaucasus and Central Asian states. The presidents focused on the transport of "early" Caspian oil and the planned "transit corridor" of highway, railroad, and pipeline links from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan via Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea and Turkey, bypassing Russia.

In Baku, Nazarbayev and Aliev also supported sectoral division of the Caspian Sea’s continental platform and mineral resources among the littoral states, in opposition to Moscow’s proposals for a Caspian legal status which would not recognize national rights. In Tbilisi, Shevardnadze and Nazarbayev declared in a similar spirit that their countries’ "strategic, economic and political interests coincide." They discussed allocation of space in Georgia’s Black Sea ports Poti and Batumi for Kazakhstani exports. Both meetings witnessed the signing of bilateral agreements on air, maritime, and overland transportation, mutual protection of investments, and cooperation among the countries’ security services. The three presidents expressed support for the territorial integrity of each other’s countries and the inviolability of their borders "against separatism of any kind;" and Nazarbayev offered to mediate in the Karabakh conflict. (Interfax, BGI, Western agencies, September 16 through 18)

The transit corridor is meant to enable Central Asian and Transcaucasus countries to export their products directly to international markets, ending their dependence on Russia for a costly and unreliable transit which also constrains their political independence. The project maximizes these countries’ common interest in defusing regional conflicts which could jeopardize the proposed corridor. As regards transport of "early" Caspian oil, the countries officially adhere to the 1995 two-pipeline decision, but the Chechnya war compromised the Russian route and the Georgian route now seems the only viable option.

Tajik Truce Enshrines Opposition Gains.