The last may 22-23, an energy summit was held in Kiev. Presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Baltic countries, Poland and EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs took part in the meeting, as well as delegates from other countries including an observer from the United States. A REGNUM correspondent asked the head of Svobodnaya Rossiya (The Free Russia) Foundation, the former head of the Presidential Department for Interregional and Cultural Ties with Foreign Countries Modest Kolerov to comment on the outcomes of the Kiev summit.
REGNUM: Mr. Kolerov, what is the political sense in the documents signed at the Kiev summit?
The political sense in the documents signed at the summit is a bureaucratic (and by this moment exclusively bureaucratic) fixation of the intention of the countries transiting and receiving gas from Russia to become part of the system of external control over the sources per se. Their economy of transit is not self-efficient in its core, their policy is one of a reptile, it is instrumental; their political will is a derivative from the will of external power centers. In those conditions, they are trying to sell twice their declarations at external markets: to their Euro-Atlantic sponsors and Eurasian rivals (Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan) that are building their own relations with the Euro-Atlantic centers directly. To cut it short, the declarations of the Kiev summit are a desperate cry of ineffective allies of the West, almost each of them is under serious problems of crises of their internal regimes. It is a cry of those willing to draw attention to themselves, willing to assume any mediator or, in the opposite, an alternative to Russia role for the sake of survival. Presence of a US observer must not mislead us about the true value of those declarations. For curators, they are just a low-paid element of the traditional Russia detention policy. Those declarations will not be funded by the West, thus they will remain declarations.
REGNUM: The Energy Summit in Kiev was preceded by talks of the Azerbaijani and Turkmen presidents in Baku. How possible is it that Ashgabat would join the “alternative energy corridor,” particularly, by backing the idea of constructing a Trans-Caspian pipeline?
The Trans-Caspian pipeline, as well as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan's maneuvers in the energy market and their transportation, anyway it is not a project of even tomorrow. All those tricks regarding the amounts of reserves and routes are aimed today, first of all, at influencing some macro-indices of the Eurasian energy policy market; it is a struggle for improving negotiation positions, bargaining, blackmailing, or if you like, the “Oriental politeness” not known by the West, but very well known by us.
The aim of this politeness is to increase ones political gains where it is practically impossible in the economic terms of view. Kazakhstan's economic difficulties, a close perspective of Azerbaijan starting its oil extraction, dubious assessments of the reserves in Turkmenistan and inevitable huge costs of the country's transformation, all this is exacerbated by the background of the global inflation and the crisis of financial tools and makes those resources-dependent countries look (or look on behalf of them) for an artificial dialog with “democratic” resources-bankrupt countries. The total price of the game is capitulation of the “democratic” European Narcisses towards the resources-reach Asia, as it was clearly stated that without Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, the Baltic — Black Sea — Caspian Project has no chances. In this situation, “the globally historical transit alliance” that plans to supply energy resources to Europe not by the natural way — with participation of Turkey and Russia, but under the fantastic parabola from Central Asia to Ukraine and the Baltic Sea is another Utopia. It may sound funny, but such a strategy can be drawn on a school globe, but not in the economy.
REGNUM: Judging by the outcomes of the summit, Kiev's key proposal was to construct a major refinery plant for Caspian oil in the Ukrainian territory that, to all appearances, must be delivered through the Odessa-Brody-Hdansk-Plock pipeline which is under construction yet. How real is the project, to your mind?
I am not an expert in Ukrainian oil refining, but I would like to stress that even declared, not contracted free Azerbaijani oil will not be enough to fill the major export pipe — the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. If in the shadow of these talks Azerbaijan manages to take under its control a part of the Ukrainian fuel market and thus capitalize part of its free financial reserves and to some extent diversify their economy, one can congratulate it with a successful bargain. Ukraine, despite its resource bankruptcy and the transit crisis, still remains a big consumer market.
REGNUM: Was coincidental that the Energy Summit took place at the same time when the official Kiev became active on the Black Sea Fleet issue?
It was not. These are long ago coordinated Euro-Atlantic plans. It is another matter that their implementation remains bureaucratic most of all. The less there is real economy in them the more there is conflict policy.
REGNUM: Azerbaijani experts believe that the Azeri Caspian shelf has no potential to fill both the BTC and the planned route in Ukraine. Actually, they state that Kiev can be given oil only in case Turkey is deprived of it. If this way of posing the question is right, what Ilham Aliyev expects while signing the documents in Kiev?
The Kiev activists and their American curators are astonishingly presumptuous about Turkey: the edge of the Kiev declarations is economically directed mostly against Turkey as a transit country and consumer of energy resources. Special attention in this context should be paid to the Azeri-Turkish union. Probably, that is why Baku gave all necessary assurances to Ankara that there would be no re-orientation of energy routes in reality.