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Round Up: Georgia, Armenia, Iran, and Gazprom

IHT: Georgian premier accuses Russia of ‘political blackmail’ by hiking gas price Zaman: Armenia Surrenders to Russia RIA: Energy Dialogue as Seen by Cartels Times: Gazprom Pipeline Deal Points to Alliance with Iran Kyiv Post: Armenia says its price of $110 for Russian gas will remain fixed until end of 2008 EurasiaNet: Russia Tightens Control over Armenian Energy Sector Oneworld: Armenian Energy Dependence on Russia ISN: Armenia Balancing Between Russia and Georgia Asia Times: Russia Plays a Double Game over Iran EDM: Russia Cements Control of Armenia’s Energy System EDM: GAZPROM’S “PURE COMMERCE” IN GEORGIA

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told an international conference in France on November 3 that Moscow’s extortionate price hike to Georgia and overall political use of energy is a “bad precedent for everyone. Energy should not become a political tool” (AP, November 3). On the same day, however, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told the media, “We believe that market forces should determine the price levels. So Georgia and Gazprom are going to work out a price. Our general take on this is that Russia should be a good partner for its clients [sic] and a reliable supplier of energy.” The statement inadvertently implied that Russia and Georgia are negotiating as equivalent actors in normal market circumstances — an implication all the more disconcerting as the spokesman had sought official guidance before giving this answer to a press query from the previous day (state.gov, November 3).