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Azerbaijan agrees to pay gas debt to Turkmenistan

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Monday, March 10
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan signed an agreement on March 5 that will see Baku pay USD 44.8 million for Turkmen gas it received in the early 1990s, after a 16-year dispute between the two countries over how much was owed.

The deal will improve bilateral relations and may represent a breakthrough for the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline project which plans to transit natural gas from Turkmenbashi to Baku and then onto Europe.

Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan relations have been strained since the 1990s, largely due to a dispute over ownership of oil and natural gas fields in the Caspian Sea, but have been improving since Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov came to power in 2006.

“The Azerbaijani economy has been developing dynamically and from this moment on we have no debts to any country,” Azerbaijani First Vice-Prime Minister Iagub Eiubov said when signing the agreement, according to the news agency Regnum.

Berdimuhammedov has pledged to spend the debt payments on educational reforms and computers, according to news source