A landmark meeting of EU Central Asian and Middle Eastern nations was marred on Friday when three key nations did not sign an agreement on the Nabucco gas pipeline scheme, aimed at reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.
Two gas-rich nations -- Azerbaijan and Egypt -- and two key transit nations -- Turkey and Georgia -- signed up to the agreed text at a meeting in Prague. However the representatives of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan refused to sign the text, according to diplomatic sources.
Iraq, also invited to the meeting, did not send any representative. US, Russian and Ukrainian observers were also invited to the high-level meeting by the European Union, aimed at giving a kick-start to the long mooted Nabucco pipeline projects.
The main aim is to bypass Russia and Ukraine, whose dispute over gas prices halted key supplies to Europe in January, leaving thousands of households without heating in the middle of a severe winter.
The Nabucco pipeline once complete would straddle 3,300-kilometers (2,050-miles) from Turkey to Austria. It is hoped that it will start pumping gas to Europe by 2014. (Hurriyet Daily)