The events in Central Asian countries very rarely attract massive international media attention. It does not means that nothing happens here. In the last decade of May, the third annual meeting of deputy foreign ministers of Central Asian states (an event organized by the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy – UNRCCA and held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) was focused on enhancing regional cooperation and sustainable development. In the same time, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan Mahmudjon Sobirov received the U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Geoffrey Pyatt. Mr Pyatt expressed desire of the US side to facilitate trade between Central and South Asia. In his turn, M. Sobirov expressed hope that the US will also support the implementation of energy projects in Tajikistan that would contribute not only to the economic development of Tajikistan, but to the entire region, since these projects will allow Tajikistan to export energy to the countries of South Asia. In another part of the world, Europe – Germany announced that it will gradually close all nuclear reactors by 2020. Likewise, Switzerland. But until to this “green future”, existing energy alternatives cannot yet cover the energy needs of the European, American or Chinese. In this context, the fuel resources of the countries of Central Asia makes this space an issue for the diplomatic front where the battle is becoming increasingly fierce. Whether we speak of the European Union or China, the basic idea remains the same and was sound enough: diversify supplies in order to reduce structural dependence on Russia. In this discussion we will limit to the moves from the European side. Projects started, projects delayed and too few concrete results. Moreover, history seems again from Russia’s side. Unrest in North Africa and the Middle East increases the need of European Union to find new solutions to ensure energy needs. So no wonder there is a European Union diplomatic offensive on the all possible fronts.
Nabucco vs South Stream
When talking about the two major energy projects of European Southern Corridor, we mainly observed that Western European diplomacy has always tried, at least in public, a delicate balance by supporting both projects. Diplomats and officials from Austria, Germany or even Italy have defined open the option to support both projects. What mattered in the price of gas imported from Russia. In contrast, the countries of Eastern Europe, namely Bulgaria and Romania have tried without much success a dual approach. Berlin, for instance, was (and still is) interested in opening new pipeline routes out of Central Asia in order to diminish the European Union’s dependence on Russian energy. German diplomats also were on the lookout for ways to boost trade in ways that benefited German manufacturers. In addition, the German military was eager to retain access to a military base at Termez, near the Uzbek-Afghan border. More, the meltdown of Kazakhstan’s banking sector in early 2009 cost German firms an estimated 500 million euros in lost investments, 300 million euros of which will have to be borne by German taxpayers. But the economic debacle did nothing to diminish Merkel’s enthusiasm for engagement with Astana. But from Moscow the diplomatic offensive of Germany was overlooked, given the many economic and political projects common to both countries. In contrast, many of Romania’s diplomatic contacts in Central Asia (even though concrete results have minor) were born from the Kremlin a grumble; however, the relations between the two countries are not the happiest. Romanian diplomacy seems unable to adapt in real time to the dynamic changes in the international community. (Full text)
Posted in Asia, Europe
Tagged AGRI, Angela Merkel, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Basescu, Diplomacy, Путин, Россия, East Europe, European Union, gas price, Gazprom, Geoffrey Pyatt, Georgia, Germany, Kazahstan, Middle East, Nabucco, oil and gas politics, Romania, Russia, South Stream, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, US
Today, Romanian President Traian Băsescu participated at the annual meeting with representatives of the Romanian diplomacy. At meeting was also attended Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu.
While the last hundred meters of the Presidential office, President Basescu presented the Romanian diplomacy objectives achieved during his mandate. The Romanian head of state also presented that is foreign policy priorities. Thus, in Chapter accomplishments were mentioned objectives of the partnership with the United States and signed the agreement for Nabucco. On this last issue, Basescu reminded that Romania was the only country that has remained consistent to its options. And the reintroduction of Nabucco on the agenda of the European Union is due in most part intervention of Romanian diplomacy. In this context, President Traian Băsescu stated that there is gas for the Nabucco project in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and asked the Romanian diplomats strive to create the environment in which the consortium to full contract amount of gas. “I know that diplomatic life is beautiful in European capitals, but now we need a major diplomatic effort in Central Asia” he said.
- Note: The diplomatic effort now demanded President Basescu has little chance to succeed remarkable achievements. Countries like Khazahstanul, Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan that the Romanian president wants them courted diplomatically, appear to have been already seduse by smile Putin-Medvedev tandem.
On the list of foreign policy objectives is also the Treaty of Lisbon, obtaining a warrant for European Commissioner for Agriculture. Romania will continue to work for to include Moldova in the Western Balkans package of a future EU enlargement.
In addition, President Traian Băsescu said that Romania wants a partnership with Russia based on respect for the interests of both parties. “There were some diplomatic incidents lately, but we do not consider specific Romanian-Russian relationship. We want a partnership on an equal footing with the Russian Federation. Not equal an economic force, or military force, not equal to influence, but our relations must be based on respect for both interests. We are ready to respect the interests of the Russian Federation, provided that ours should be respected. ” said Traian Băsescu. He characterized the current relationship with Russia as a ‘pragmatic, traditional’ and told the Romanian diplomats that is necessary to increase levels of trust between the two countries. Relations with China have been characterized as exceptionally good at the political level, as opposed to economic, where trade balance deficit exceeds 2 billion euros.
Posted in East Europe
Tagged Basescu, bucharest, Central Asia, China, Diplomacy, East Europe, Lisboa Treaty, Moldova, Nabucco, Romania, Russia
In Ankara, the capital of Turkey, representatives of Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria and Turkey signed an intergovernmental agreement for the Nabucco pipeline project.
Intergovernmental agreement signing was expected with the emotions of all involved in the Nabucco project, especially when it is decisive for the construction pipelines. Emotions were created especially harsh conditions put by Turkey, a country which will host most of the pipeline. According to many analysts, Nabucco, the pipeline will supply Central and Western Europe with natural gas from Asia, has two major meanings. First, the nature of practice is a new source of raw materials for large gas consumers in Europe. The second is political significance: the EU proves that Russia, despite differences between Member States, may find an alternative to quasi-monopoly Gazprom.
The agreement signed today becomes effective once all countries will ratify. Project costs are estimated at 7.9 billion, but fund raising many questions. Financial crisis even more difficult process of attracting investors. Another problem is the lack of reliable suppliers in the long term. Agreements with gas suppliers such as Iraq, Egypt and Turkmenistan are still at the discussion level, yet. After countless delays, work has started for 2011, first gas deliveries are expected in 2015. In addition, clamp reducing of dependence of Russian gas is just an exercise of the image. Nabucco will provide only 20% of Europe’s gas, the remaining 80% will come from all Gazprom pipelines.
An interesting opinion that I noticed it is the director of the National Institute for Energy Security of Russia, Constantin Simonov. “This project is a symbol of the EU political ambitions, but this work would have to lose both Russia and Europe. Leaders in Moscow will be more difficult to negotiate with the responsible middle of Asia: they will have to promise loans, support in some projects or projects for the blocking of certain countries. And the EU will be forced to take account one of future transit country – Turkey, which long time wishs to take part in the European family ” concluded Simonov.