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Gas exports could be new way to settle old scores?

A three-way war of words between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia may be more than just a lot of air. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has criticised Turkish ideas for trade in natural-gas (and by implication the recent Turkish-Armenian rapprochement), indicating Azerbaijan may seek other ways to export its plentiful natural gas supplies. Azerbaijan has criticised Turkey for its deal with Armenia to open their border, arguing that there should be no reconciliation between those two traditional enemies until Azerbaijan’s own dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory held by Armenians since it was captured in a war in the early 1990s, is settled. Aliyev’s comments were obviously intended to send a message to his country's traditional ally against the Armenians. And to goad things along just a bit, he added that Azerbaijan plans to export gas to Russia next year, and may even export some to Iran in the future. The knock-on effect may well make it tougher for EU nations to diversify their sources of supply - and reduce dependence on Russian gas – via a pipeline from the Caspian Sea basin through Turkey to Europe.

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