Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 6-12 Dec.: €conomy (&Middle East)

South Caucasus is the link between EuroAsia and Middle East. A very convenient position, although somehow problematic. While Georgia and Armenia claim to be Europeans (sometimes Europeans “abroad”, or neglected, or forgotten, or returnees) Azerbaijan can assert to be meeting point of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. A trump card, if well played.

Who seems to play well is Iran that in autumn did not save energies to reassure old partners and reinvigorate its strategies for new ones. In October Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi visited Baku to discuss bilateral military cooperation. The speaker of the Parliament, Ali Larijani, expressed his commendation in Yerevan, for the good mutual relations. In November it was Georgia’s turn: direct flights Tbilisi-Tehran&visa-free travel arrangements agreement signed in Tbilisi by the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

The Middle East has potentials, in terms of economy.
In 2011 Syria will start importing natural gas from Azerbaijan. According to the agreement signed in November in Baku, Syria will import about 3.5 million cubic meters of gas a day, via Turkey. The pipeline - still under construction – will be a part of the network connecting Syria with Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Europe.
Meanwhile Azerbaijani oil exported via ports in Batumi and Ceyan reached its seasonal picks. According to “On Dec.6-10, the average price on Azeri Light CIF Augusta exported […] was about $92.8 per barrel, or $3 higher than the previous price.”

Armenia may be interested in diversify its investors, not to be too dependant on Russia. In the past Lebanese investments were nearly equal to Russian ones. But according to the statistics for the first semester of 2010, Russian investments make about 70 percent of all foreign investments made in the country. As Russia seems to firmly hold the market of infrastructures, other options may be open to investors who don’t want to challenge the big tycoon.
Armenians confirm their preference for Dubai, for the winter holidays. To meet the travellers’ growing demand, Dubai’s first low cost airline, flydubai, will couple the service offered by Armavia.

The Emirates, Egypt and Jordan will be again the favourite locations for South Caucasian holidaymakers. And money goes on flowing between the Middle East and its northern bridge.

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