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Armenia and Azerbaijan compete to buy Georgian gas pipeline.

By Messenger Staff
Friday, August 13
Serious competition has begun over the issue as to who will buy the south-north gas pipeline connecting Russia and Armenia and passing through Georgia. The Georgian government has recently put this strategic asset up for sale. Different sources claim there is a 99% chance that the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR will purchase the asset; Yerevan is totally against this option. Another possibility is that it will be bought by Russia's Gazprom – this has caused concern for the Georgians as well as the Azeris. There is also a third possible player – Kazakhstan's Kazmunaigaz, although some think that the Kazakhstanis will protect Russian interests. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports that the issue was decided between the heads of states during the recent visit of President Ilham Aliyev to his counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili. However the newspaper thinks that although from economic point of view the gas pipeline is not a profitable venture, Aliyev is straightforward and wants to keep the oil pipeline under his country's control. The newspaper is of the opinion that this energy source for Armenia will end up in Baku's possession. David Shahnazarian, representative of the opposition national congress of Armenia airing the concern of Armenian side, stated that the Azeris' intention to buy this pipeline does not follow any economic interest but is purely politically motivated. According to Shahnazarian, Baku’s interest in the pipeline is motivated by the intention to further deepen the energy blockade of Armenia. This could change the situation in favour of Azerbaijan particularly now when it has ruled out launching a military attack on Karabakh. He insists that under these circumstances Armenia’s government is obliged to take every possible measure to purchase the pipeline. Meanwhile Georgia thinks that selling this installation is not against its strategic interest and greedily anticipates big money coming into the coffers.