Defense Ministers Davit Tevzadze of Georgia, Safar Abiev of Azerbaijan and Oleksandr Kuzmuk of Ukraine met on March 17-18 in Tbilisi to discuss tripartite security cooperation in the Caspian-Black Sea region. They focused on a plan, first intimated at their January 1999 meeting in Baku (see the Monitor, January 22), to create a joint military unit for the protection of oil pipelines. The three countries are motivated by their respective functions as producer, transporter and prospective consumer of Caspian oil from the newly developed offshore fields. Ukraine plans to become a regular customer of the Azerbaijani oil to be piped via Georgia and shipped out of the Supsa terminal.
Tevzadze, Abiev and Kuzmuk examined security arrangements for the Baku-Supsa pipeline, which is due to become operational next month. The ministers agreed to organize a joint exercise at battalion level, focusing on pipeline protection. The exercise is tentatively scheduled for next month, when the Baku-Supsa pipeline and the terminal are due to go into full operation (Turan, March 18).
GAZPROM THROWS GAUNTLET TO U.S.-BACKED TRANS-CASPIAN PIPELINE.