|Human Rights Groups Dismiss ECGD Decision to Back Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline as Politically Motivated|
Press release from:
Human rights groups  investigating BP's hugely controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline were today dismissive of the decision of the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) of the UK government to provide $150 million in support for the project, calling it politically motivated.
The groups expressed surprise at the benefits the ECGD claimed would flow from the BTC project , given that many of the claims are contradicted by readily available evidence. For instance, ECGD claims that the pipeline "will serve to promote regional stability". In the past two months, there has been a revolution in one of the pipeline's host countries, Georgia; elections in another, Azerbaijan, that have been called "fraudulent" by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe ; and major bomb attacks in the third, Turkey.
Similarly, ECGD touts "the establishment of high quality operations to international standards", when a recent report from the Baku-Ceyhan Campaign identified no fewer than 173 violations of mandatory World Bank standards . ECGD also claims that "significant temporary employment will be created", in the same week that workers building the pipeline in Georgia went on strike in protest at reportedly receiving less than 50 US cents a day .
"It's pretty obvious that the ECGD has decided to back the BTC project for the same reason everybody else has: massive political pressure from the US," said Anders Lustgarten of the Baku-Ceyhan Campaign. Added Greg Muttitt of PLATFORM, one of the groups involved in the campaign, "We presented ECGD with extensive research showing how the pipeline violates their own standards on numerous counts. It seems the standards don't count for much."
Kerim Yildiz, of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, another group in the campaign, said, "The ECGD maintains that the project complies with international human rights and environmental standards. However, this is clearly not the reality. KHRP is in the process of submitting cases to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of a large number of villagers, who state that their human rights have already been violated".
Noted Hannah Griffiths of Friends of the Earth, "ECGD shouldn't be using taxpayers' money to support projects that will further fuel climate change. We're bitterly disappointed that despite its so-called commitments to the environment, ECGD is still supporting unsustainable projects."
"The ECGD has recognised that the project is not yet satisfactory and has set conditions before cover is made available," concluded Nick Hildyard of the Corner House. "No money should be provided until the public has been able to comment on the conditions and on BP's fulfillment of them. Taxpayers must be satisfied that BP has addressed longstanding concerns over compensation and new allegations - admitted by BP - of faulty welding."
For further information please contact:
Greg Muttitt, PLATFORM, 07970 589 611
 Groups involved in the Baku-Ceyhan Campaign, which has extensively investigated the BTC project and advocates that it should not be awarded public money while it still fails to meet mandatory human rights and environmental criteria, include Corner House, Platform, Friends of the Earth and the Kurdish Human Rights Project.
 See ECGD's announcement and note of decision of December 17 2003 at http://www.ecgd.gov.uk/news_home.htm?id=5932
 BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 24 November 2003, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe: "You know that not only in Georgia but also in Azerbaijan and Armenia - two other countries in that important region - there were fraudulent elections quite recently." The full interview can be found on the BBC website.
 For this report, compiled as part of the 120 day disclosure period for the BTC project, and other independent analysis included reports of mission to the region and interviews with affected people, see
 See "PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS IN GEORGIA STRIKE FOR PAY INCREASE" RFE/RL, Dec 16 2003