ISTANBUL (Marmara)–Former speaker of the Azeri Milli Mejlis (lower house of parliament) Rasul Guliyev–in an interview with the Turkish Radikal newspaper said that Azeri president Haydar Aliyev has been misleading Turkey over Azeri intentions of constructing the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline to secure and guarantee continued Turkish financial support for Caspian oil exploration in Azerbaijan.
Guliyev–who has now become Aliyev’s number one political opponent–stated that Aliyev aims to continue using the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline deal as leverage over Turkey–adding that he does not intend to ever go through with the project.
Guliyev stated that Turkey should not place much importance on the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline since the financial dividends expected would not be great.
He–furthermore–stressed that Azeri oil prospects were not as bright as once thought and a Baku-Ceyhan pipeline would not be put into use before 2010 or 2015.
Guliyev claimed that international companies investing in Azeri oil interests are deliberately delaying excavation of oil in the Caspian and were awaiting an economic climate whereby lesser competition would promote higher prices for the Azeri oil.
The former speaker stressed that the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline issue had been on the Azeri-Turkish agenda since 1994–and efforts to finalize and approve the construction of the pipeline were deadlocked in 1995 and 1996.
Guliyev asserted that international oil companies have always inflated the price of the pipeline construction in the billions–adding that those companies were interested in transporting the so-called Azeri oil through Iran–as the most economical route. If relations between Iran and US are developed and the existing animosity thaws–Guliyev said it would pose a problem for Turkey–which aims to maintain control over Azerbaijan–an aspect that–according to Guliyev–was not beneficial for the international consortium.