This article continues a series begun late last year as an analysis of the then-accelerating negotiations that led to the initialling of agreements on the Baku-Ceyhan main export pipeline (MEP) at the OSCE's mid-November summit in Istanbul. There were four such agreements: a cost guarantee accord, an accord between investors and the transit states, the MEP accord itself and the construction contract. The first four articles in this series addressed the four agreements and the role played by the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), including its component companies and BP-Amoco in particular, in the talks. The fifth looked at Georgia's demands, which by then were the main obstacles holding up to the talks. In late March, the talks were brought to a successful conclusion, with all of Georgia's demands receiving satisfaction. Therefore, it is appropriate to bring this series to a conclusion, although future columns will undoubtedly revisit the MEP and related issues. The present column traces the negotiations from early January until their conclusion, with special attention paid to Georgia's demands and how they were satisfied.
Continue reading "Just When You Thought Baku-Ceyhan Was Dead and Buried (6/7)" »
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrives April 14 in Kazakhstan, on the first leg of a week-long tour of Central Asia that will also take her to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The visit occurs against a backdrop of increasing Russian diplomatic activity in the region in the period since Vladimir Putin's appointment as Acting President by Boris Yeltsin and subsequent election in his own right. This coincidence opens speculation about United States-Russian relations in Central Asia and the directions Central Asian countries themselves will choose to chart their futures.
Continue reading "Russia Slouches towards Central Asia" »
This week I begin a new, short series on an issue that few people talk about and fewer people do anything about. This is the industrial infrastructure problem. It is already clear that problems of energy development in the Caspian are unique. Over the last 10 years, companies have devised new organizational methods of work to deal with human-resource issues. In international-legal and project-structuring terms, the Baku-Ceyhan agreement is apparently the first instance ever of a trilateral intergovernmental project that includes a transit country and that was concluded through intergovernmental accords, with industry consortia representing strategic alliances sitting at the table during negotiations and concluding side agreements to facilitate and implement the overall plan. However, infrastructure limitations add themselves to other idiosyncratic factors, political and economic, that slowed Caspian energy development in the 1990s.
Continue reading "Solving the Problems of Caspian Industrial Infrastructure (1/2)" »