Rezonansi, Georgia
Dec 26 2007

Resources for Abkhaz conflict resolution has been included in US

Americans will finance elaboration of Transcaspian pipeline projects

by Nino Prangishvili

Money for conflict resolution

The US Senate has approved the country's 2008 budget. According to
the budget, next year, the US Department of State will receive 402m
dollars for the development of democratic processes in the
post-Soviet area. The adopted document says that a large portion of
this money should be used for the resolution of the Abkhaz and
Nagornyy Karabakh conflicts.

In addition, according to Assistant Secretary of State Daniel
Sullivan's explanation, the money allocated by the Senate will also
be spent on the elaboration of the Transcaspian oil and gas pipeline
projects which will allow Europe to receive oil and gas from Central
Asia via Azerbaijan and Georgia, bypassing Russia.

Despite the fact that, formally, the project of assistance to the
post-Soviet countries was devised by a Congress subcommittee,
Kommersant newspaper says that its real author is Tom Lantos,
chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Russia's old

How will the events unfold should the projects created by the United
States be put into operation and how effective will their
implementation be for Georgia? Political analyst Soso Tsintsadze said
that the US Senate allocates the money for this purpose every year.
He also said that the allocated 402m dollars seems like a large
amount to us but, according to Tsintsadze, this is very little for
the global problems that the projects we are talking about.

Links to Kosovo

As for the Abkhazia and Nagornyy Karabakh issues, Tsintsadze is quite
sceptical about the prospects of resolving them. According to the
political analyst, the US Congress has been allocating this kind of
assistance every year since 1946. The difference this time is that
the separatist regions have been specified. The political analyst
provides his own explanation regarding this issue.

"In the past, this money was called assistance allocated for people
struggling against the Soviet totalitarian system. It is for the
first time, however, that the money has been allocated for concrete
separatist regions. I think that this is related to the Kosovo
problem because Washington is the main driving force on which their
[Kosovo's] tactic is based. Washington is not really sure that
Azerbaijan and Georgia will fully agree with its policy. Basically,
the norms of precedent and international law are being violated here.

"They know well that the Georgian public will not be especially
delighted by the US proposal regarding Kosovo. This is why money has
been allocated to settle the Abkhazia and Nagornyy Karabakh problems.
It is a fact that this money has to be spent so that an agreement on
the issues of protection of territorial integrity is reached. I do
not think, however, that this will be effective.

"Russia has firmly decided today that Europe should be completely
dependent either on the Russian gas or on the gas delivered via
Russia. A whole knot of contradictions has taken shape here. The fact
that the Senate has allocated a certain amount of money to this end
is a usual, annual event. The Abkhazia and Nagornyy Karabakh issues
are the only new thing about it," Tsintsadze said.

Transcaspian projects

Economic expert Gia Khukhashvili said that the Untied States is
trying to weaken Russia's influence in energy markets, including
Europe, by means of alternative projects. He too, however, is
sceptical about the effectiveness of this step.

"Unfortunately, the situation is certainly not good today. For
example, a short while ago, Putin and [Kazakh President Nursultan]
Nazarbayev held a meeting and signed a project of construction of a
pipeline along the Caspian coast for the transportation of the
Turkmen gas, with the carrying capacity of 25m cu m of gas [as
published]. Therefore, the projects elaborated by the US Senate will
not be able to ensure good prospects to the implementation of
Transcaspian projects bypassing Russia in the future.

"Naturally, this amount is too small for the settlement of such
issues since Russia has high stakes in them. For, example, it
controls the energy carriers of Central Asia. I think that the
situation is not good in this regard today," Khukhashvili noted.