Where’s the 8th Corridor?
The pan-European networks (PAN) and the economic significance of Eastern Europe and the Balkans
by Matthias George
Why is the economic significance of the Kosovo-Macedonian conflict kept a secret? Are our democracies so weak that they need purely human alibis which, when closely examined, turn out to be the opposite? Did economic arguments seem less legitimate? Why was the work in progress in Albania sold to us as ‘reconstruction’ and a backing for ‘good and loyal services’, whereas in reality it is the beginning of the building of corridor VIII?
Why was this pan-European corridor project kept a secret although it is at the centre of all the Balkan governments’ economic decisions? What are the answers to these questions?
A preliminary comment: The 8th corridor runs through Skopje in Macedonia, just a few kilometres from Kosovo. Why have we never heard about it?
We have been continually talked into believing
that NATO’s actions in Kosovo are not legitimate as far as international law goes, but prevail over international law because of our status as democracies and our will to have higher ideals, i.e. human rights.
that NATO only acted outside the UN’s mandate because some members of the security council would have blocked a decision.
In France, the government ignored the constitution (only the national assembly can declare war), claiming that this is not a classical war. Germany has also broken with its constitution by participating in this war. And our media happily print and broadcast the litany prescribed by the others about a new, and more just world order, according to which human rights matter more than law and where it is alright to take care of other people’s business because as democracies we think we are wiser and legitimated by the advance of the international tribunal.
Legitimacy of intervention in Kosovo
Legitimacy in our intervening in Kosovo comes from our position as a western democracy fighting barbarian acts. That is what we keep hearing from spin doctors in NATO, in the various governments and the media, and that is the only thing that makes military action outside the UN’s mandate legitimate.
But for this to hold we have to be democracies. That is where the real question lies. Did NATO really act to answer to people’s will and on their decision? To what extent have our armies exercised disinformation and manipulation to escape democratic control?
What good is it fighting totalitarianism if, to do so, we use the same tools? Lying, misinforming and manipulating public opinion are clearly totalitarian means since, by distorting the information, we prevent the people from forming their own opinion.
The question is, since we live in a democracy which we allow to bombard us with information, why we have never heard of corridors dubbed IV, VIII and X?
Why are these projects, which are centrepieces to the policies of countries of the Balkans, and directly concern the economic development of Europe, hidden from us?
Where are these corridors?
The corridor IV links Dresden and Berlin to Istanbul via Prague, Bratislava, Gjor, Budapast, Arad, Krajova, Sofia and Plovdiv. Ways diverge to provide links to Nuremberg, Vienna, Bucarest and Constanca.
The corridor VIII links the Albanian port of Durres to Varna (Bulgaria) via Tirana, Kaftan, Skopje, Deve Bair, Sofia, Plovdiv and Burgas.
The corridor X crosses Salzburg, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, Nis, Skopje, Veles and Thessalonica. The main part of the corridor is also linked to Graz, Maribor, Sofia, Bitola, Florina and Igoumenitza.
Many of these corridors begin in the heart of Europe, in Germany.
The pan-European networks
These three corridors are part of the pan-European networks (PAN), a more global project set up to help develop former members of the Soviet block and bind them to the European economy. The idea is to completely integrate Eastern Europe into the European market, both economically and territorially. The corridors are a project begun by the EU in the early 1990s. The complete concept of the pan-European networks, including the pan-European transport corridors (PETRA) spans the whole of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, as well as the EU-associated Mahgreb countries bordering the Mediterranean, which means an economic area and transport system for over one billion people.
In its entirety, this project to date represents 18,000 miles of roads, 20,000 miles of railroads, 38 airports, 13 sea ports and 49 river ports, numerous oil and gas pipelines and various communication lines.
The estimated budget, from mid-1999 until the year 2010 is roughly 90 billion euros. The part that concerns the Balkans itself is worth 10.5 billion euros. Those are underestimations: the Eastern development projects are split, on the European level, in many chapters, and this makes it hard to get a global view.
Furthermore, these figures pertain only to the part financed by the EU, and do not include sums from the US and Turkey. In addition, diverse private funds are involved here, too. These figures are thus grossly under-evaluated.
The US wants control over corridor VIII
The corridor VIII holds a special interest: Originally the Clinton administration suggested the construction of this corridor as part and parcel of the Balkan stability pact. To serve the interests of deregulation and privatisation the infrastructure of this corridor would be sold off at low prices. Although this corridor was officially an EU transport corridor and as such given a stamp of approval by EU transport ministers, the feasibility study for the corridor was carried out by American firms and financed by the Trade and Development Agency. In other words, the USA have spared no efforts to take charge of the transport and communications infrastructure of these countries. American firms, including Bechtel, Enron and General Electrics, are thus now competing, with the financial backing of the US government, with European firms. It is Washington’s plan to open up the whole of corridor VIII to American multinational companies, i.e. to make the economic backyard of Germany, where the D-mark still dominates the US dollar, available to American multis.
TRACECA: linking central Asia and Caucasus
Added to these pan-European corridors another similar project must be mentioned, in Caucasus and central Asia: the TRACECA programme (Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia), another continent-scale project. The interests in this project lie, for western economy, in the junction between this project and Europe. An apparent weakness of the TRACECA pro-gramme, which was mentioned in Helsinki, in 1997, was the lack of linkage between the western end located at the Black Sea and the European market. This link therefore depends on corridors IV and VIII, via the port of Varna.
The Kosovo triangle
Thus, development projects on the European continent scheduled for the next 25 years depend on the building of corridors crossing the Balkans. A look at the map shows that the central tie between corridors IV, VIII and X is a triangle formed by Nis, Skopje and Sofia. This triangle lies in the middle of Kosovo. Any instability in Serbia, Albania or Macedonia would be fatal to this project, one of the largest in human history.
The USA is showing a conspicuous interest in controlling these strategic transport corridor links in the Balkans. They prohibited a project scheduled to be constructed through Serbia, and they offered Rumania 100 million dollars to move the route of the planned SEEL pipeline (South Eastern European Line) further north, to Hungary. The Italian firm ENI had planned this pipeline project using existing pipeline infrastructure in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia. The USA bombarded the Yugoslavian section of this infrastructure with remarkable doggedness. Three months after the war had begun the British General Jackson, Commander of KFOR in Macedonia and later also in Kosovo, stated to the Italian newspaper Sole 24 Ore that today it is absolutely necessary to guarantee the stability of Macedonia and its entry into Nato. He went on to say that however that ‘we certainly remain here a long time so that we can also guarantee the security of the energy corridors which traverse the country’.
The Italian newspaper also reported that it was clear that Jackson was referring to corridor VIII, the east-west axis, which contains a pipeline that will bring central Asia’s energy resources from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. This also explains why all the large and medium sized powers are so keen to have a say in the Kosovo conflict.
Pipelines in corridors VIII and X
In March 2001 U.S. Congress debated the construction of the AMBO oil pipeline from the Black Sea (Burgas), through Bulgaria and Macedonia to the Albanian Adriatic port of Vlore. This pipeline would supply the American market with crude oil to the value of 600 million dollars a month. The control over this future pipeline is of strategic importance and no doubt a reason for the American intervention in Kosovo.
The petroleum fields of the Caspian Sea basin, which have not yet been fully researched and located, are, according to various analysts, the reason for the present geo-political conflict and the primary reason the U.S. and European countries have been so involved since the collapse of the former Soviet Union. It is suspected that the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea area are at least as large as those in the Persian Gulf.
These oil reserves might lie a large distance away from the Balkans, but the territories through which the oil would have to be transported are not. Since the traffic through the narrow Bosporous Straits is limited, western strategists have suggested a number of possible pipelines. At the moment routes are being discussed which run from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, from Baku to Ceyhan, and those through the Balkans.
The possible routes for pipelines through the Balkans naturally reflect the interests of the future beneficiaries:
1 Burgas-Alexandrupolis (LukOil together with Greece, Russian interests)
2 Burgas-Vlore (American group AMBO, Halliburton, American interests)
3 Constanta-Omisalj-Trieste via Rumania, Serbian and Croatia (SEEL, Italian firmENI, EU interests). So, apart from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegowina and Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Germany and from there the rest of Europe would be supplied with Caspian oil.
SEEL pipeline conflicts with vital U.S. interests
The route of the SEEL pipeline through Yugoslavia is remarkable because of its geographical situation. Influential American analysts insist that Yugoslavia lies in the direct neighbourhood of vital American areas of interest, i.e. in the region of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. And wherever vital American interests are involved there are also NATO troops to be found who protect them and ‘Partnership for Peace’ troops who smooth over the tough NATO missions with lubricating oil. The interest of the Europeans is ever greater because it is not to their benefit to place the key to their supplies in foreign hands.
The SEEL project, which was put forward and set up by the Italian firm ENI, would be located right along the transport corridor from Constanza to Trieste. In a first phase, using the existing Adriatic pipeline system, a pipeline would be constructed to Omisalj. In the second phase the pipeline in Omisalj would be linked to the transalpine pipeline in Trieste.
At the international conference ‘Adriatic pipeline new perspectives for transport of Caspian oil to the European markets’, which took place in June 2000 in connection with the Inogate programme, it was this route that was chosen as the one with the best image. Any political objections to this pipeline have since ceased to exist with the downfall of Milosovic, and Croatia has also no longer insisted that Serbia be bypassed via Hungary.
On 26/27 October 2000, at a meeting of the same group in Brussels, support was given to the pipeline via Rumania, Yugoslavia and Croatia. This would mean that the pipeline would be constructed according to the origi nal, ENI suggested plan.
At the final Inogate meeting a memo-randum (a declaration of intent to build this pipeline) was signed by the oil transport firms CONPET, NIS Yugopetrol and Adriatic Pipeline. The project was approved by the authorities in Rumania and Croatia and should soon be ratified by Yugoslavia. The project has reached the feasibility study phase. A group for the construction of the pipeline is about to be set up. The capacity of this pipeline should reach 30 million tons of crude oil a year. Half of this amount would go to the transit countries, while the rest is destined for western European customers.
AMBO pipeline in corridor VIII
The AMBO pipeline or Trans-Balkan pipeline will transport crude oil from Burgas, via Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, to the Adriatic port of Vlore. Thus it runs along the route of corridor VIII. The negotiations in connection with this pipeline were conducted by members of the U.S. government within the framework of the South Balkan Development Initiative (SBDI) of the TDA. The SBDI aims to aid Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia to develop their transport infrastructure along corridor VIII. It looks as if the EU was more or less excluded from the planning and the negotiating of this pipeline. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the AMBO pipeline and corridor VIII, which was signed by Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia, robs these countries of their national sovereignty because the exclusive rights for the AMBO pipeline and corridor VIII were granted to the Anglo-American AMBO group. This memorandum declares that AMBO is the only party allowed to build the planned pipeline from Burgas to Vlore. It grants AMBO the sole rights to negotiate with creditors and investors. The governments of Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia are prohibited from publicising certain confidential information pertaining to the pipeline project.
Construction of the transport corridors is already underway. The financial backing for corridor VIII, for example, has already been found. 830 families in Albania mainly farmers have lost their land as a result of corridor VIII, but were apparently handsomely compensated.
The choice of the port of Vlore by the Americans as the end of their pipeline gives them full control over the supply of Caspian oil to the European countries. Analysts for European affairs point out that Greece is an EU country and that therefore the USA cannot control a pipeline from Burgas to Thessaloniki. By creating a trouble spot in Kosovo the USA is able to control Albania and with it the planned AMBO pipeline.
The fact that the USA already controls the oil production in Irak and the Persian Gulf, and with it, potentially at least, the supply of oil coming from the Caspian basin, means that Europe would be largely dependent on oil supplies from the USA, if Russia is left aside for a moment.