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May 25 , 2005

ACNIS Examines Armenia and the Region in Light of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened a policy roundtable on “Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC): A New Pulse in the Region” to shed light on Armenia’s place and role, this time in the context of regional economic developments. The meeting, which coincided with the official ceremony to launch the Azerbaijani section of the BTC pipeline named after Heydar Aliyev, brought together policy analysts, public figures, academic circles, media and NGO representatives to debate the prospects and opportunities of the “contract of the century” as the presumptive crux of regional integration processes.

ACNIS research coordinator Stiopa Safarian greeted the participants with opening remarks. “I trust that today we will take an unbiased and comprehensive view of the regional political and economic situation in the wake of the BTC oil pipeline. How will the BTC impact on regional security, will all regional actors equally benefit from the big deal, will it create dividing lines or advanced and backward players in the region?” queried Safarian.

Edward Aghajanov, an economist with the Armat Center, intervened on “The Economic Rhythm of the Region in the Wake of the BTC Oil Pipeline.” He was concerned that after the contract of the century Armenia may become an odd man out. “Still in 2002 former Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev declared that not only oil but politics would run through the pipeline. Hence it was a political program from the very beginning, which aimed to turn into a geopolitical factor. Consequently, our authorities should have sensed the smell of oil in connection with a future decision on the Mountainous Karabagh issue,” Aghajanov underlined. He said Armenia had but one potential lever against the oil card: democracy. And finally, given the development of a new USA-Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan axis, Nursultan Nazarbaev has expressed the willingness of Kazakhstan to join the project and proposed to call the pipeline Aktau-Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. Armenia , in the economist’s view, faced the challenge of expressing its attitude regarding the issue.

ACNIS analyst Alvard Barkhudarian spoke on “Speculations over BTC in the Region and Beyond.” She particularly noted the political, economic, security, social, and ecological aspects of the speculations, as well as the pessimistic predictions that did not come true over the last decade. The reality is that the 1,700 kilometer-long pipeline will transfer one million barrels of oil per day to Turkey. “Besides, the corridor through which the pipeline passes in the general economic environment involves three states of the region, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, and bypasses Armenia,” she emphasized, noting that the exploitation of energy resources has always been driven by economic and political interests. In her opinion, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan is a fact, and the rest is commentary and forecasting. The pipeline is a guarantee for regional security and against war. It is in Armenia’s interests to have economically developed, advanced neighbors.

The formal interventions were followed by contributions by Dr. Heghine Manasian, director of Eurasia Foundation’s Caucasus Research Resource Center; Gagik Ter-Haroutiunian of Noravank Foundation; David Petrosian of Noyan Tapan news agency; Luder Tavit Sahagian, graduate student of Caucasian and Central Asian Studies at Berlin’s Humboldt University; economic reporter Gegham Kyurumian; Sargis Manoukian of the Heritage Party; Shirak Torosian of the Mighty Fatherland Party; Edward Antinian of the National Progressive Party; Ruzan Khachatrian of the People’s Party; Moushegh Lalayan of the Republican Party; Karlen Alexanian of the Democratic Fatherland Party; Alexander Butaev of the National Democratic Union; and several others.

Founded in 1994 by  Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2005, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center and its activities, call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; e-mail root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am

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