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Russia Regrets EU Decision on Caspian Pipeline Talks

Wednesday 14 September 2011

(RTTNews) – Russia has expressed regret over the European Union’s decision to negotiate a legally binding treaty between the bloc, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to build a Trans Caspian Pipeline System.

The Trans-Caspian Pipeline agreement will set the basis for the construction of a submarine pipeline connecting Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, and in turn link this pipeline to infrastructure that will bring gas from Central Asia to the EU, thus reducing EU dependence on Russian gas imports.

Russian Foreign Affairs ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the EU Council’s decision “ignores the current international, legal and geopolitical situation in the Caspian basin.” It warned that all attempts to intervene in the Caspian deal could seriously complicate the situation in the region and negatively affect talks on the status of the Caspian Sea. This is the first time the European Union has proposed a treaty in support of an infrastructure project.

The trans-Caspian pipeline, which is part of planned links known as the Southern Corridor, aims at supplying Europe with gas coming directly from the Caspian basin and the Middle East. It intends to increase security of supply for European households and industry by diversifying gas sources and routes, thus minimizing dependence on few suppliers and potential gas cuts.

The Commission has been holding informal talks with Turkmenistan for two years in the hope of convincing the country to commit some of its gas reserves to the west. Doing so would require the construction of a pipeline under the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan, which has already pledged to send gas to Europe. Previous efforts to develop a trans-Caspian link have been frustrated by territorial disputes between the two central Asian countries as well as Russian objections.

This joint-venture will help Europe diversify its sources of supply and reduce its reliance on Russian gas, which has been disrupted by repeated disputes with Ukraine. Gas-supply disputes between Russia, which is maintaining its influence in the European and Central Asian energy sector, and its neighbours, cause worry for Europe.

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