US stays focused on BTC security
The United States “seriously ponders” the security and protection of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) main export pipeline, a strategic conduit pumping Azerbaijani oil to world markets, a senior US official has said.
“Ensuring the pipeline’s security is pivotal and is one of the key issues on agenda,” US special envoy for Eurasian energy, Boyden Gray, told reporters in Baku.
He said the BTC security issue has become more important in the past month, in an apparent reference to the brief war between Russia and Georgia early last month.
Gray said the U.S. would do everything possible to maintain its long-standing energy partnership with Azerbaijan. Related issues will be tabled with officials in Baku soon.
Gray said the latest wave of unrest in the South Caucasus, despite its adverse impact, will boost US-Azeri cooperation in the energy sector.
“The developments in Georgia may have complicated the objectives set forth by the two countries, however, our relations in this area will strengthen,” the US official said.
Russia sent troops to Georgia’s unrecognized republic of South Ossetia and pounded Georgian positions after Tbilisi launched an offensive to retake the pro-Russian, self-proclaimed region. Military action ended after five days of fighting. Under a ceasefire agreement reached with the European Union’s mediation on August 17, Russia and Georgia agreed to return to the positions they held prior to the outbreak of hostilities.*