Some 36 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have petitioned President George W. Bush asking him not to support the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline because it does not transit Armenia and would consequently lead to instability in the region, the Anatolia news agency reported yesterday. A bill submitted earlier to the House of Representatives had also called for the pipeline not to be supported should Armenia be excluded from its route.
The New Energy Policy Development (NEPD) Group subordinate to Vice President Cheney had also written a report and submitted it to President Bush saying the Baku-Ceyhan project was commercially viable and asked him to back it. The Armenian lobby was incensed by this report and this resulted in 36 pro-Armenian members of the House of Representatives writing to President Bush on Jul. 11 voicing their concerns should Armenia be left out of the project.
The letter said that the Clinton administration had supported a multilateral pipeline policy in the Caucasus but that despite this the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline was being afforded special support. It implied that a blind eye was being turned to Armenia’s being left out of the project at Azerbaijan’s request. It drew attention to two reports written by the Cato Institute and the Carnegie Endowment think tanks which stated that Baku-Ceyhan inhibited United States’ interests in the region rather than supported them. The letter points out that the Armenia route would be safer, more direct and cheaper bringing the cost down by $600 million. It states that the United States should openly declare that Armenia has to be included in plans for the region and that failing this, Armenia would find itself outside of Western economies. It strongly suggests a reappraisal of the NEPD report.