The messenger logo

Who benefits?

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, September 10
Currently the Russian media is speculating about the possible opening of the Turkish-Armenian border and Armenia replacing Georgia as a transit country. Most Russian publications present this as a Turkish and EU initiative. They stress that NABUCCO will not pass through Georgia but Armenia and Georgia will lose its transit function. We think that Russia wants this to happen and wants Turkey and the EU to undertake such actions to discredit both parties in the eyes of Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The opening of the Turkish-Armenian border should be welcomed by all means. It will be followed by the opening of new communications prospects in the South Caucasus. Primarily it will be of great benefit to Armenia to transport its goods through Turkey as this will give it another way, apart from Georgia, of accessing the Black Sea ports. Armenian businessmen and state structures will presumably decide which of the possible routes is the most viable, easy to use and cheap. Armenia will still have to use Georgian transit capacities to receive gas from Russia and the Larsi customs checkpoint to make land communication with Russia.

As for the suggestion that the route of the NABUCCO pipeline might be changed to bypass Georgia and include Armenia, there are two factors which we feel might prevent this. The most important is the unresolved Karabakh problem. Until this is settled in a way acceptable for Azerbaijan it is unlikely that that country will allow its natural gas to pass through Armenia. The second factor is that the NABUCCO project is supposed to provide EU countries with an alternative gas supply route which would reduce their dependence on Russian supplies. Armenia is, and will remain in the foreseeable future, Russia’s major strategic ally in the South Caucasus. There is a huge Russian military base at Gumri. If the NABUCCO pipeline passed through Armenia this would contradict its initial purpose. What need is there for the EU to spend billions of Euros on building yet another pipeline passing through territory controlled by Russia?

If we dig deeper into the genesis of the Russian aggression against Georgia last year we could find that one of the major reasons for it was Georgia’s ambition to host alternative routes of energy supply to Europe such as NABUCCO. The statements that Georgia is becoming an unreliable transit country serve Russian interests most of all and further its imperialistic plan to become the sole supplier of energy to Europe and thus put itself in a position to control Europe’s economies and presumably political policy.

Analyst Ramaz Klimiashvili weaves a fantasy which suggests that the USA and Russia will make a deal, under which Russia will have Georgia and the USA will have Armenia. Whether this is in fact fantasy or reality will eventually become clear, but one thing is for certain: opening the Armenian-Turkish border gives a push to creating a new geopolitical reality in the South Caucasus. Let’s hope that in this competing new reality, unlike the one Russia says has existed since it recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia, there is no encouraging of Russia’s neo-imperialistic plans.