Source Pravda.Ru

Smoke Screen of Words

Confusion in LUKOIL: Alekperov not used to be dismissed
The RF Foreign Ministry closed the discussion about the scandal connected with expulsion of the Russian oil company LUKOIL from Iraq. Russia Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov sent a letter to the Iraqi leadership to ask Saddam Hussein to suspend “breaking the contract” with LUKOIL, until reasonable solutions of the problem are found. Igor Ivanov told journalists on Monday that he offered the leadership of the Iraqi republic “to conduct negotiations to find a reasonable solution which wouldn’t infringe upon the interests of the Russian oil companies.” Now, it is Iraq’s turn to give its response.

Even today the RF Foreign Ministry seems to be deeply shocked with actions of the Iraqi leadership with respect to Russian oil companies participating in development of the West Qurna oil field in Iraq. It was emphasized several times already that the unfriendly action was done right at the moment when “Russia strove for relaxation of tension in the situation about Iraq and was searching a peaceful political solution of the problem.” Statements of this kind sound strange especially considering the fact that LUKOIL leadership doesn’t conceal the seriousness of the hard situation it had to face in Iraq. Moreover, LUKOIL President Vagit Alekperov openly declared that he was ready to recall all specialists till the end of an American-British military operation aimed at overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime.

LUKOIL leadership is currently demonstrating its complete confusion and weakness about the situation to the whole of the world; it makes directly opposite statements one by one. First, LUKOIL declares that breaking of the contract is illegal and even plans to defend its rights at the Geneva Arbitrage. Then it pretends that it doesn’t care that the Iraqi leadership wants to drive the Russian company out of Iraq, as it considered that the fact would cause no damage to the company. Or, quite unexpectedly, Vagit Alekperov expresses his firm belief that all contradictions with Iraq will be settled in an extrajudicial order. Isn’t it better for Vagit Alekperov to define his position more accurately?

It is not ruled out that the Russian oil oligarch was mislead by some promises made in the Kremlin. Vagit Alekperov recollected that Russia President Vladimir Putin himself offered him guarantees concerning Iraq. However, the GDP cannot cope with these promises, even if they were actually made. Despite the ostensible friendliness of the diplomatic rhetoric, it is perfectly clear that US President George W. Bush doesn’t guarantee Russia’s oil interests in Iraq. Consequently, President Putin cannot guarantee them as well. That is the reason why the RF Foreign Ministry is so much confused about the situation. Russia was prepared for any outcome of the situation, except for the fact that Iraq would show Russia the door.

At that, Iraq is dropping different curtseys. But in fact, it’s more important what is done, not said. By word of mouth, Iraqi officials assure of their complete respects. But in fact, Iraq obviously makes Russia understand that if it plans to stay in Iraq, it must dance to Iraq’s tune and not care for the UN. This is some kind of a totalitarian trap. It’s perfectly clear that none of the Russian companies will agree to keep up such conditions, as they would be a violation of the regime imposed by the UN sanctions. Russia supports these sanctions; the country can be seriously punished for violation of these sanctions. What is more, Russia’s government never intended to ignore opinions of the world community with a view to defend Iraq.

LUKOIL still insists that one of the parties can abandon the agreement only upon decision of the Geneva Arbitration, otherwise the contract remains valid. But nobody in Iraq or somewhere else cares about the opinion of the Geneva Arbitrage. When court examination initiated on the problem reaches its logical conclusion and the court declares that LUKOIL is right in the situation, either oil will run out of the West Qurna oil field, or a new government of Iraq will be declared no legal successor to Saddam Hussein and not responsible for the commitments of the dictatorial regime.

Today Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov gave Iraq a chance to bring the situation back to the starting point. But this point is already left far behind. As soon as Russia expressed its support to the UN resolution imposed on Iraq, it was automatically placed to its legal (but low-paid) position in the anti-Iraq (or anti-Arab?) coalition. At that, Russia liquidated any possibility of further cooperation not only with Iraq but also with other Arab nations, which are currently joined together for protecting Iraq from USA’s imperialistic claims.

In other words, Russia could be useful for Iraq only if it, like in old times, would dare to gather its tanks and missiles and oppose the American imperialism. But alas, Russia cannot do it. Instead of Russia’s LUKOIL, Saddam Hussein currently needs someone because of whom George W. Bush would change his intention to wage a war against Iraq. Who can it be?

Dmitry Slobodanuk PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://economics.pravda.ru/economics/2002/7/21/64/4387_IvanovLukoil.html

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