The Government of Georgia has accepted energy giant Gazprom’s demand to receive money instead of natural gas in exchange for Russia’s gas transit to Armenia via Georgia.
Gov’t accepts Russia’s transit demand
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 13
Georgia received 10% of all natural gas Russia sends to Armenia through Georgia.
Last year, Russia also raised the same demand; however, the same Georgian Dream Government of Georgia was proud to say they managed to get Russia to provide Georgia with natural gas rather than money, as this was “more beneficial” for Georgian interests.
Now, Georgia’s Minister of Energy Kakhi Kaladze says Georgia accepted an “optimal offer” that would never make the country dependent on Russian gas.
“Through the new deal, Georgia’s dependence on Russia’s energy doesn’t increase; we will just receive money, not gas, for the transit. This happens in all developed countries,” Kaladze said.
“The pay for the transit Georgia will receive from Russia will be one of the highest in Europe and at the same time, at need, we will get gas from Russia at a lower price,” Kaladze added.
The Minister refrained from naming a concrete sum that Georgia will receive from Russia, only saying “we will get nearly the same result as it was in case of directly receiving natural gas”.
Kaladze stressed the agreement between Russia and Georgia on the transit gas expired on December 31 2016, and there was no new deal reached.
“It was Russia’s demand to pay money for the transit. If we didn’t accept the demand and took gas from the pipeline without an agreement, it would be a violation of the law,” Kaladze stated.
Georgia’s Minister of Finance and other officials said they trusted in Kaladze and that it was an “optimal solution” for Georgia.
The Minister announced the new deal would come into force after two years. For now, Russia will continue to pay with natural gas, but in 2018 the Federation will pay money.
Analysts and the opposition strongly criticized the Government for accepting Russia’s conditions.
Member of the opposition United National Movement Roman Gotsiridze called the Government’s decision “treacherous”.
He stressed the decision meant Georgia’s Government was “under Russia’s influence” and that there might be “someone’s private interests” in the decision.
“The Government capitulated,” Gotsiridze said.
“Russia’s next target will be Tbilisi’s gas distribution system, currently owned by Kaztransgas and the Georgian Railway company,” Gotsiridze said.
Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili stated the Minister “must explain” what happened in a year that forced Georgia accept the conditions it refused to take in 2016.
“At first glance the Government’s decision is tantamount to capitulation, as we could have the same deal with Russia over the transit gas we had in previous years,” Tsiskarishvili said.
In March last year, Georgia reached a verbal agreement with Gazprom to continue cooperating as it did in the past, meaning Georgia would receive 10 percent of all natural gas that transits through the country to Armenia instead of monetary compensation.
Azerbaijan is Georgia’s main gas supplier with a share of 77.9 percent of the total volume of gas imports of the country.