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We want the text, say Young Lawyers

By Sopo Datishvili
Wednesday, February 25
On February 20 the Georgian Young Lawyers Association made an official announcement expressing its dissatisfaction with the memorandum signed on December 28 2008 between INTER RAO UES and the Georgian Ministry of Energy concerning the Enguri Hydro Power Plant. As they say, in spite of the great interest of society in this agreement, it is still being kept secret. The Association has made a complaint about this secrecy at the City Court and asked for the annulment of the document which regulates the terms under which it is kept secret.

Before this, on January 16, the Young Lawyers Association had complained about the confidentiality of the document to the Minister of Energy. A verbal hearing of the complaint was held under the aegis of Alexandre Khetaguri, the Georgian Energy Minister. The document stipulating the commercial secrecy of the signed memorandum, enclosed with the decision of Khetaguri on the same issue, was presented at this hearing.

“The Young Lawyers Association underlines that according to the law, if an application is written in a foreign language, the executive branch must give a deadline for presenting the same document translated into the official language (Georgian) and confirmed by notary, and discuss the application only after this is received”, the official statement of the Young Lawyers Association says.

MP Pavle Kublashvili agrees with the Association’s demand that the document be made public. “I think society should be given full information about all such agreements. Of course there are some exceptions, for example if the document concerns defence issues. As for the issue about there needing to be a translated version of the document, in this case the law should definitely be obeyed,” he said.

Economic analyst Gia Khukhashvili also doesn’t approve of such confidentiality attaching to the memorandum and thinks that the Association’s demand is legitimate. He said that if this was a private commercial document it would not be possible to make its details public, but in this case the Association is referring to a memorandum. “This case is very peculiar. Enguri Hydro Power Plant is the spine of Georgian Energy. They say they are protecting commercial interests but there is no commerce involved in this deal - the Georgian Government is one party and the other is a company indirectly controlled by the Kremlin”, he said.

Khukhashvili also added ironically that Baghapsh seemed dissatisfied with this agreement about Enguri Hydro Power Plant, and therefore asked him to send the memorandum to Georgia as he has apparently seen a copy of it as it seems there is no other way Georgians can read it.

The existence of the memorandum between RAO and the Ministry of Energy became public only 15 days after it was signed. The Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary opposition widely criticized the Government for this at the time. Interest in this issue has grown over time because no one has seen the full text of the agreement yet.