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    MOSCOW OPPOSES BUILDING OF TRANSCASPIAN OIL PIPELINE

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    BAKU, March 16, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- The Russian side does not share the optimism of the other Caspian states about the building of an oil pipeline across the Caspian Sea bed.

    Special envoy of the Russian President for the Caspian Sea issues and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Viktor Kalyuzhny said this to journalists on Tuesday. He is participating in the meeting of the special working group for determining the status of the Caspian Sea, which is being held in Baku.

    "There is objective probability of doing irrecoverable damage to the Caspian Sea's environment as a result of an unforeseen circumstance or a negative phenomenon in this project," Mr. Kalyuzhny said.

    According to him, while laying the pipeline on the Caspian Sea bed it is necessary to take primarily the Caspian region's seismic activity into consideration.

    "It would be wrong to risk the unique water reservoir for the sake of time-serving interests," the Deputy Minister stressed.

    At the same time he noted that any project is entitled to be implemented. "For this purpose, it is necessary that all the conditions - environmental, seismic and those of technical security - be taken into account, and a consent of all the Caspian states to implement the project be received," Mr. Kalyuzhny said.

    The project of building an oil pipeline on the Caspian Sea bed is initiated by the Kazakh and Azeri sides. It is planned to build the oil conduit from the Kazakh city of Aktau to Baku on condition that Kazakhstan will transport at least 20 million tons of oil per year by it.

    Special envoy of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the Caspian Sea issues Ravil Cherdabayev told journalists that the Kazakh side welcomes this project. Asked by journalists about Moscow's possible attitude to this project, he answered briefly that Russia's representatives should be asked about it.

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