The phenomenon of transregional projects draws attention of politicians and investors. Geographical location of transit countries, like Armenia, appears as a significant factor. However, the policy led by Turkey and Azerbaijan is targeting at keeping Armenia aside of major energy projects. At that same time, Armenia faces a good outlook for cooperation with Iran and Russia. Habet Madoyan, expert of Mitq analytical center, presents his vision of the problem to PanARMENIAN.Net.
What prevails in regional projects in Middle East and South Caucasus? Is it politics or economy?
Economy and politics are strongly correlated. One doesn't exist without the other. Despite obvious profitability of Kars-Baku railroad via Armenia, Turkey decided to build a link via Georgia. This fact proves that Turkey pursued a political objective by hampering the economic development of a regional rival. The same story is with other regional projects, even if Armenia's participation is more profitable than Georgia's. Our enemies will do their utmost to prevent Armenia's participation in major regional projects.
Nabucco project is much spoken about. What can Armenia benefit from it?
Nabucco can be realized at the expense of Iranian gas. Talks promise success. Once, Iran wanted to export gas via Armenia but Russia did not allow Armenia to become a transit country. Now Turkey is aspired to occupy our place. At that time Russia feared to lose control over gas export from East to West. Now, it has nothing to lose, since the pipe will stretch through unfriendly countries. Russia can change its stance and speak of the Iran-Armenia as an alternative to Nabucco. In case Nabucco is put into operation we will not have much to expect. Two gas pipelines for the same source will be unreal and unprofitable. Nabucco will deprive Armenia of the last chance to participate in regional energy projects.
How can Europe benefit if the gas pipeline goes through Armenia but not Turkey?
The European Union would prefer to be in transit dependence on Armenia rather than on Turkey, which has already opposed joining of Gaz de France to Nabucco, motivating its decision by France's stance on the Armenian Genocide and Sarkozy's position on Turkey's full membership in the EU. As result, Gaz de France will be an associated member. Thus, wishing to avoid energy dependence on Russia, the EU risks to fall into dependence on Turkey. Any alternative gas pipeline through Armenia will involve the republic in regional projects. Nabucco construction is supposed to kick off in 2009 and something can be changed still.
The Kars-Baku railroad will be built despite EU's opposition to the project. Can it bring actual economic profit?
The project will yield profit, since the railway communication will boost Turkey's commodity turnover with Azerbaijan and the Far East. If necessary, Turkey will mobilize its troops and react to armed conflicts in the region. Without railway communication, Armenia will become a market for cheap Turkish goods.
How real is the North-South project?
The North-South project is real and urgent. Ancient Roman leaders built roads first of all. Presently, communications are of huge importance. If Armenia is slow the project may go through Azerbaijan. Do not forget about synchronized energy systems of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran.
The North-South will offer Armenia lots of advantages. Firstly, it will become a transit country between Russia (Europe) and the developing Asian market. Operating its natural resources, Iran deposits in other branches of economy, thus creating demand for high technology products which can be obtained from Europe only, that is to say, via Armenia. Secondly, the project will provide entry of Armenian goods to Asia and Europe. Rail communication between Armenia and Iran is possible through Karabakh. It will be cheaper. Moreover, Armenia will have a trump in the Karabakh issue, since the project shareholders will be interested in Armenia's presence on the territories though which the route will go.