The Baku Ceyhan Campaign
About the Baku-Ceyhan campaign
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- What is planned

- Colonialism

- Human rights and conflict

- Social development

- Climate change

- Environmental impacts

- BP's pipeline record

- The companies and financial institutions involved

- Map of the project

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A region of simmering conflicts

All three host countries for the BTC pipeline project have suffered recent conflicts, and in all three countries tensions remain, which may directly affect the pipeline system, if it is built.

Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia vs Azerbaijan, 1988-1994 (conflict region 15 km from BTC pipeline route)

Nagorno-Karabakh is located in the south-western interior of Azerbaijan (ie not touching any of its borders). In 1988, demonstrations took place, in which Nagorno-Karabakh’s majority ethnic Armenians called for the region’s secession from Azerbaijan, and unification with Armenia. Violence broke out, which escalated over the following months and years, until by 1992 the Armenian Karabakh army had driven the Azeris (about 50,000 in number) out of the region. By this stage the conflict had developed into a full-scale war, which saw a number of counter-offensives by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan was losing militarily however, and in 1993 Armenian Karabakh forces invaded the parts of Azerbaijan surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, expelling all of the Azeri civilian population that lived there. As a result, up to 800,000 Azeris became refugees, displaced to the rest of Azerbaijan, and 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory became occupied by Armenia. That same year, the Republic of Armenia’s army got involved in the war. Fighting continued until a ceasefire was agreed, with Russian mediation, in May 1994. At least 25,000 people were killed in the war. The conflict remains unresolved.

Georgia vs South Ossetia, 1990-1992 (conflict region 55 km from BTC route)

In 1989-1990, as the Soviet Union was disintegrating, there were calls from South Ossetia (in northern Georgia) to break away from Georgia and unify with North Ossetia (on Russia’s southern border). This developed into a two-year conflict with the Georgian government, in which at least 1,000 people died. Relations between South Ossetia and Georgia have since improved, although there is still no formal settlement.

North Ossetia vs Ingushetia, 1992 (220 km from BTC route)

In 1992, war broke out between the neighbouring southern Russian republics of Ingushetia and North Ossetia, over the disputed region of Prigorodny. Intense fighting only lasted a week, killing 400 and displacing 40-60,000 Ingush. A ceasefire was imposed by Russia, who sympathised with the Ossetian side. Subsequent Russian attempts to broker negotiations have largely failed, and violence sporadically breaks out, especially against Ingush people still living in Ossetia.

Georgia vs Abkhazia, 1992-1993 (130 km from BTC route)

The Abkhazia region in north-western Georgia sought greater autonomy from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in 1992 the Georgian army entered Abkhazia to try to break its independence movement. But in 1993, Abkhaz forces, with support from Russia, drove Georgian troops out of its territory. A truce was declared in 1994, but tension has persisted, with several outbreaks of fighting followed by renewed ceasefires, throughout the 1990s. Georgian guerrilla soldiers have been operating in Abkhazia (without the sanction of the Georgian government), and clashes between them and the Abkhaz escalated through 2001, nearly breaking out into another war. There remains mistrust on both sides, the Abkhaz suspecting that the Georgian government may restart the war with American support, and the government fearing Abkhazia’s political closeness to Russia. The conflict displaced 250,000 civilians (70 per cent of the population), most of them Georgian, and killed between 10,000 and 20,000 people.

Russia vs Chechnya, 1994-1996 (110 km from BTC route)

The Russian republic of Chechnya declared independence in 1991, at the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in 1992 adopted a Constitution, defining the Chechen Republic as an independent, secular state governed by a president and a parliament. In 1994, however, Russia sent in troops to reclaim the republic and crush the independence movement, and reduced the capital Grozny to ruins. Russia’s refusal to grant independence to Chechnya is widely recognised to have been motivated by the desire for control over the Baku-Novorossiysk oil route (see chapter 3). The Chechens counter-attacked successfully, driving the Russian troops back. A truce was signed in 1996, making Chechnya effectively independent. Between 60,000 and 100,000 were killed in the war, many of them civilians.

Russia vs Dagestan, 1999 (80 km from BTC route)

Next door to Chechnya is Dagestan, another republic within the Russian Federation. During the first war in Chechnya, a number of Dagestani fighters took part on the Chechen side, mostly religious radicals. Partly inspired by this experience, in 1999 they joined with two Chechen warlords and attempted to turn Dagestan into an independent Islamic state. They were crushed by the Russian army within a few weeks, during which time about 1,000 people were killed. Russia decided that Chechnya was the root cause of the problem, and reinvaded, beginning the second Chechen war. Sporadic clashes and bomb attacks continued, both in Dagestan and in Russia, and the republic remains unstable.

Russia vs Chechnya, 1999- (110 km from BTC route)

After the Dagestan war, and following a series of bombings in Russian cities, Russia re-invaded Chechnya in late 1999. Russia captured Grozny in early 2000, after which the Chechen rebels moved into the mountains, and guerrilla warfare continued. Despite Russian claims on several occasions that it had won the war, fighting continues. Official Russian figures put the military death toll from the second Chechen war at 13,000 rebels and 3,000 Russian soldiers. Estimates of civilian deaths range from 9,000 to 14,000. Russia has been widely criticised for committing serious human rights violations during the war.

Turkey vs PKK, 1984-1999 (pipeline route passes through conflict region)

In 1984, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) began an armed struggle for an independent Kurdish state, against which Turkey reacted heavily. The 15-year armed conflict between the PKK and Turkish security forces caused the deaths of more than 30,000 people – most of them Kurds and many of them non-combatants – along with the destruction of more than 3,500 villages and hamlets in the Kurdish regions and the internal displacement of an estimated three million people. Today, the unilateral PKK cease-fire, established in 1999-2000, remains a precarious one in light of the continuing uncertainty as to the fate of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who faces the death penalty in Turkey. Turkey has been widely condemned for the human rights abuses it has carried out against the Kurds, both within its conflict with the PKK and more generally.

Mountain near Erzurum, northeast Turkey, a region where many Kurds live. In the foreground, one of the many Turkish military bases in the area; in the background, a Turkish flag carved into the mountainside, with the slogan 'Once vatim': 'The State comes first!' [Greg Muttitt / PLATFORM]