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The News in Brief

Wednesday, April 26
Georgia, Iran Mull Railway Connection

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili paid a two-day official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran on April 22-23, where he held talks with President Hassan Rouhani, Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri and Majlis Chairman Ali Larijani.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes developing ties with Georgia in all fields,” President Rouhani said at his meeting with PM Kvirikashvili. “Iran and Georgia have great potential and capabilities for developing ties in the fields of economics, science and culture,” he added.

At the meeting of President Rouhani and PM Kvirikashvili, special emphasis was drawn on the Persian Gulf-Black Sea transport and transit corridor. The Iranian President said on this matter: “today, transit is very important in the region and with regard to connecting Iran’s rail system to Astara (town in northern Iran) and Azerbaijan and good rail and road connection in Georgia, deepening Tehran-Tbilisi ties in this field can make great developments in the region.”

The Persian Gulf-Black Sea corridor featured at Kvirikashvili’s meeting with Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri as well. “The most important issue is the issue of North-South corridor and connection of the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea through Iran-Armenia-Georgia or Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia,” Jahangiri was quoted as saying by Tehran Times.

According to the Vice President, Iran has already expressed it readiness to connect the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea through the North-South Corridor, which would connect Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran on its path.

PM Kvirikashvili’s administration said in its press release of the meeting, that the Iranian side expressed readiness to cooperate with Georgia in the energy sector, including electric power exchange and providing Georgia with Iranian natural gas.

Several memoranda of understanding and agreements were signed by Georgian and Iranian ministries and between private sector representatives, respectively.

As part of his visit to Tehran, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili also met with Majlis (Iranian Parliament) Chairman Ali Larijani.

Led by Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the Georgian delegation included Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze, Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, Economy Minister Giorgi Gakharia, Environment Minister Gigla Agulashvili, Agriculture Minister Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Tariel Khechikashvili and the Prime Minister’s Foreign Advisor Tedo Japaridze.

Kvirikashvili’s trip to Iran came three days after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to Georgia. (

UNM against Central Election Commission

Zaza Bibilashvili, one of the leaders of the United National Movement party, says that the election code will be changed in order for the National Movement to be fined if it expresses support for Mikheil Saakashvili.

According to Bibilashvili, the initiative of the Central Election Commission – to declare the participation of a person, who has no right to participate in the pre-election campaign, as a violation – is specifically directed against one person who is considered by Bidzina Ivanishvili as the main threat to his Georgian Dream party.

According to him, "in parallel with the violence on the constitution", the government has taken another step to further restrict democratic processes and usurp power in the country.

"These changes prove that Ivanishvili thinks that the protection of his family-clan regime is possible only through illegalities and injustice. He understands that his government cannot last long in the conditions of a fair and democratic electoral environment. We guarantee that, together with the Georgian people, we will remove him from Georgia, as he is the biggest enemy of the country," Bibilashvili said. (IPN)

Inter RAO affiliates start investment dispute with Georgia

Gardabani Holdings B.V. and Silk Road Holdings B.V., Dutch affiliates of the Russian power-holding Inter RAO, have notified Georgia of an investment dispute on compensation due to the depreciation of the Georgian currency, the lari, Prime Business News Agency reports.

The companies sent letters to the Georgian President and ministers of foreign affairs, justice, and energy on April 14, saying that the country has violated its liabilities under an international agreement signed with the Netherlands on the stimulation of investment and mutual protection of interests.

Silk Road bought 75.11% in Georgian power grid company Telasi in 1998, and Gardabani bought 100% in hydropower plants Krami-1 and Khrami-2 in 2011. The purchase contracts say that Telasi and Khrami-1’s tariffs were to increase if the lari depreciates against the U.S. dollar and Khrami-2’s will rise if the lari depreciates against the Japanese yen.

These obligations were also confirmed by a memorandum on cooperation signed by the government of Georgia in 2013, the Vedomosti Business Daily reported.

But in 2014, the Georgian regulator created a methodology for the calculation of tariffs that did not encompass these obligations. In 2013–2016, the lari lost 31% against the U.S. dollar and 13% against the Japanese yen, but the regulator rejected requests of Telasi, Khrami-1 and Krami-2 to raise the tariffs, Vedomosti reported.

An Inter RAO representative told the business daily that the company wants agreements to be adhered to strictly, and the compensation may amount to tens of millions of U.S. dollars. “The company is in constant dialogue with authorities of Georgia and it does not plan to sell these assets,” the person said.

Gardabani and Silk Road did not name the amount of the compensation they want to receive, saying only that they want to solve the dispute through negotiations, but reserve the right to file a suit to an international arbitration court if the negotiations fall through. (ipn)