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Opposition says PM’s Azerbaijani visit was due to gas supply issues

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 13
Amid speculation concerning the replacement of Azeri gas with a Russian supply in Georgia, Georgia’s Prime Minister paid a visit to Azerbaijan and met with the Azeri leader, Prezident Ilham Alyev.

The PM’s press service and the Azerbaijan media have reported that the sides discussed bilateral relations and cooperation in the political, economic, humanitarian and other spheres, and touched upon the importance of joint projects implemented in the energy, transport and infrastructure areas.

However, the leader of the opposition party Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania stated that the major focus of the meeting was on the complications of the gas supply.

Alasania stressed that “hidden negotiations” with Russia in terms of providing Georgia with gas has created a threat of damaging relations with Georgia’s strategic partner, Azerbaijan.

Thus, according to Alasania, Garibashvili “had to run to the neighbouring country like a little boy in order to somehow improve the situation”.

One of the outcomes of the two countries’ leading officials meeting was that the Azerbaijani President will soon pay an official visit to Georgia.

Meanwhile, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) is ready for competition with Russia’s Gazprom company in the Georgian market, Mahir Mammadov, the head of SOCAR Energy Georgia company, exclusively told Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency.

“It is a free market and the presence of other companies increases the level of competition and consequently, the quality of services,” he said.

“If Georgia decides to increase the supply of Russian gas, accordingly we will be adapting to the new conditions to develop further,” said the company head. “But in general, we are ready to compete.”

The opposition is strictly opposed to the return of Russian’s Gasprom to the Georgian market. According to them, the price is higher, and the Russian economic field is highly politicized.

The opposition believes that even in case the price is lower, depending on Russian energy will provide no benefits for Georgia.

Several days ago, Georgia’s Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze stated Georgia would consider gas supplies from Russia’s energy giant Gazprom.

Georgia receives most of its gas supplies from Azerbaijan; it also receives, as a transit fee, 10% of gas shipped by Russia to Armenia through a pipeline via Georgia.