June 10, 2000 International Tribunal for U.S./NATO War Crimes in Yugoslavia

Caspian Sea's Oil Reserves

By Michel Collon

Michel Collon of Belgium is the author of two books on the Balkans, Liar’s Poker, and Monopoly. He is a regular contributor to, Solidaire, the weekly newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Belgium, on the geo-political aims of NATO’s war. He spoke of the attempt to gain control of the Caspian Sea’s oil reserves and the pipelines used to distribute this oil.

Why Don’t They Ever Talk abaout the "8th and 10th Corridors"?

Three weeks after the beginning of the war, General Michael Jackson, commander of KFOR in Macedonia and soon in Kosovo, confided to the Italian daily, Sole 24 Ore: "Today, the circumstances which we have created here have changed. Today, it is absolutely necessary to guarantee the stability of Macedonia and its entry into NATO. But we will certainly remain here a long time so that we can also guarantee the security of the energy corridors which traverse this country."

The Italian daily went on to say, "It is clear that Jackson is referring to the 8th Corridor, the East-West axis which ought to be combined to the pipeline bringing energy resources from Central Asia to terminals in the Black Sea and in the Adriatic, connecting Europe to Central Asia. That explains why the great and medium-sized powers, and first of all Russia, don’t want to be excluded from the settling of scores that will take place over the next few months in the Balkans."1

Why have they buried the economic importance of this conflict? Why present the undertaking, which began in the summer of 1999 in Albania, as "reconstruction" and "support for good and faithful service," since it’s all about the beginning of the 8th Corridor, which has been financed and in development for a long time already? Why conceal the projected pan-European energy transport system, which forms the crux of the strategy of all the great powers?

The Strategic Project of the European Union

The "Corridors" are a project which was launched by the European Union at the beginning of the 1990s. Their objective: the complete economic and territorial integration of Eastern Europe into the European market. Practically all of these strategic axes find their origin in the "heart" of Europe, where they are tightly networked: Germany.

The Corridors are an ensemble of different means of communication with the East and the South East: 18,000 kilometers of highways; 20,000 of railroads; 38 airports, 13 maritime ports and 49 rivers; and numerous oil and gas pipelines. Their function is to facilitate the flow of investments to the East and the flow of raw materials and manufactured products from the East. This project is strategic: the EU foresees investing 90 million euros there over the next fifteen years.

The map (p. 98) shows that Kosovo figures in this corridor, which has served for centuries as a route between Europe and the Mid-East. This route was crucial for the German war machine during the Second World War.

The United States does not conceal its desire to control the strategic knot of corridors situated in the Balkans. They vetoed a project for Corridor 10, which passes through Serbia. They offered $100 million to Romania in order to route pipelines father north (across Hungary).

They have a double objective: keep Yugoslavia out of the game and create an obstacle for Russian interests in the Southern Balkans. The Italian oil company ENI had foreseen a pipeline going from Pitesti (Romania) to the Yugoslav refinery in Pan evo, but U.S. war planes destroyed the Yugoslav complex with remarkable tenacity.

The Strategic Importance of the Corridors

The "corridors" are the strategic highways of tomorrow for the European economy. At stake in the battle to control them are hundreds of millions of euros.

What route will goods take, specifically oil and gas coming from the former USSR, from the East or the South East? This question of competing pipelines has already inflamed the Caucasus (see the maps in Liar’s Poker, p. 134–135). And it will continue to inflame other areas, as the map tracing rival pipelines shows (see p. 120 and 122).

On the one hand, Moscow wants to continue transporting oil from the Caucasus through Russia to the north and by the Black Sea to the West. On the other hand, Washington has done all in its power to side-step Russia and weaken it, chiefly by trying to impose a new, long and costly Baku-Ceyhan pipeline through Turkey.

This confrontation has been prolonged in the Balkans, where various projects are competing to import oil from the Black Sea. Turkey wants to prevent Russian oil from passing through the Bosporus Straight by using ecological pretexts. And the Ukraine wants to construct 670 km pipeline from Odessa going north.

On the other hand, Romania is gladly accepting Russian oil from Novorossiysk in its Constanta port, while Greek-American interests are projecting a pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to the Aegean Sea. This would render the Turkish pipeline unprofitable.

The wars of the future will still carry a strong odor of petroleum.


They Are Fighting to Control Strategic Routes

Corridor noş 4:

Connects the Romanian port city of Constanta (Black Sea) to Bucharest, Budapest, Austria and Germany. Thanks to this corridor, these last two countries have access to petroleum, gas and other strategic raw materials coming from the Caucasus via Russia and the Black Sea.

Corridor noş 5:

Connects Trieste (Italy), Ljublana (Slovenia), Budapest (Hungary) and Kiev (Ukraine). There are two branches: Zagreb (Croatia) and Bratislava (Slovakia).

Italy and Russia are very interested, as is Germany, which has become the principal investor in Slovenia.

Corridor noş 8:

From East to West, it connects the Bulgarian Port of Burgas (also situated on the Black Sea and in competition with Constanta) to Skoplje (Macedonia) and to the Albanian port of Dürres. And from there, it connects with two Italian ports, Bari and Brindisi.

The United States and Italy support the project, presented by AMBO (Albanian Macedonian and Bulgarian Oil Corporation), which is financed by American capital. Washington would thus like to control the transport of oil to the West, and no doubt, to control the German route through the Danube.

It is possible that the United States may decide in the end to favor the Bulgarian route over the costly Turkish Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.

Corridor noş 10:

Connects to Corridor 8 from Skoplje, crossing Kosovo, Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana in order to come to Germany.


1 Sole 24 Ore, 13 avril 1999.
Sergio Cararo, Cecenia: Nuova guerra del petrolio? (unedited manuscript), Rome, 1999; Karen Talbott, Backing Up Globalization, Free Trade and Privatization with Military Might, International Center for Peace and Justice (USA), June 1999.

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