Books on Georgia
Update No: 307 - (27/07/06)
The crux of the Caucasus
There is no doubt that Georgia is very much in the sights of the Kremlin,
straddling the vital routes for Caspian Sea oil to world markets and much
besides. So for that very reason is it in those of the White House. The Rose
Revolution in Georgia of 2003, for its neo-con promoters, is one of the high
points of the achievements of the first Bush junior administration.
The West certainly played a major role in that great event, courting former
president Eduard Shevardnadze for years, who of course had been Soviet foreign
minister under Gorbachev, a prime architect of glasnost and perestroika. That he
went quietly was doubtless partly their doing, guaranteed of good treatment. He
and his cronies have been given an amnesty; and he still lives in presidential
splendour, although deprived of the actual office.
His successor could not be more Western. He has higher degrees from US
universities, is fluent in five languages and speaks sweet reason in all of them
all the time - or almost so.
He is an imposing figure at six foot five, with a youthful countenance and an
unabashed air. He has yet had the sense to carry on living in a modest apartment
in central Tbilisi - to distance himself from any taint of the scourge of modern
Georgia, official corruption.
An ideal interlocutor for George Bush, one might imagine.
Bush Pledges Support to Georgia
President George W. Bush reiterated the US support to Georgia and said after
talks with his visiting Georgian counterpart on July 5th that his friend,
Mikheil Saakashvili, "wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't have Georgia on
"We had a very good discussion about a variety of topics. I assured the
President that Georgia is our friend and we care deeply about the people of
Georgia," Bush said at a joint news conference held after hour-long talks
in the White House. "America must always listen to requests for help, and
specifically to Georgia," he added.
President Bush has also pledged the US support for Georgia's NATO aspiration,
but noted that "Georgia has got work to do, and the President [Saakashvili]
understands that." "I believe that NATO would benefit with Georgia
being a member of NATO, and I think Georgia would benefit. And there's a way
forward through the Membership Action Plan. And we will work with our partners
in NATO to see if we can't make the path a little smoother for Georgia,"
Like in May, 2005 - when Bush visited Georgia - the two Presidents spoke much
about freedom agenda after talks on July 5th as well.
"He [President Saakashvili] is a man who shares the same values I share. He
believes in the universality of freedom. He believes that democracy is the best
way to yield the peace. The Georgian government and the people of Georgia have
acted on those beliefs," the US President said.
"Mr. President, you've got hard work ahead of you. You've tackled problems
with vigour and enthusiasm. But, most importantly, you've stayed true to a
philosophy that I admire," Bush added.
Mikheil Saakashvili responded by hailing the US policy to promote democracy and
freedom globally." Your freedom agenda does, indeed, work. I mean, you can
see it in Georgia. We are seeing it in Iraq. And please stay there, please fight
there until the end. We will stay with you there," Saakashvili said.
The US President hailed Georgian authorities efforts to create "an economic
climate that fosters growth and opportunity" and praised the fight against
"One of the most robust Millennium Challenge Account projects is with
Georgia. It should be a sign to the people of Georgia, and people in the
neighbourhood, that the United States respects the decisions this government has
made, and wants to work closely with the people of Georgia," Bush said.
The US President has also hailed Georgia's contribution to the coalition forces
in Iraq. Currently, there are more than 850 Georgian troops stationed in Iraq,
making Georgia one of the most significant contributors to the coalition forces
in terms of a country's per capita troop deployment.
Saakashvili promises not to forget assistance by friendly people of
President Saakashvili promises not to forget the assistance rendered in the
depth of last winter by the friendly people of Azerbaijan and their leader Ilham
Aliyev, Trendspecial correspondent in Tbilisi reports.
In his interview with Rustavi-2 television channel Saakashvili said that during
the winter crisis when Russia ceased gas delivery to Georgia 'our brother Ilham
Aliyev enabled usto resolve our problems in the temperature -13-15 degrees'.
Such merits are never forgotten. One needs to acknowledge that Azerbaijan could
suffer from such a display of resolution.
Taking into consideration such crisis situations the government has set up
active work in the direction of search of alternative energy sources.
"Without alternative natural gas sources, Georgia does not have
perspectives," he stated.
The President also noted that from 1 October 2006 independent Georgia will for
the first time have an interrupted Azerbaijani gas source. According to
Saakashvili, the relevant agreement was reached in a meeting with the Presidents
of Azerbaijan and Turkey in mid-July under the official opening ceremony of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline.
"We told our brothers from Azerbaijan and Turkey that in current conditions
Georgia cannot agree upon an old contract on the gas transportation from the
Shah-Deniz," Saakashvili stated. "We considered all items which could
be changed, as Georgia received nothing from the gas transportation."
The launch at last of the BTC oil pipeline
The opening of the Baku, Tbilisi, Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline from Central
Asia in mid-July is certainly a major event. It will bring much-needed transit
fee revenue to Georgia.
The world's second longest oil pipeline, inaugurated on 13 July, is running
through dangerous and conflict-ridden territory in Central Asia and the
Caucasus. Security remains a key concern.
The stakes are sizeable. Stretching 1,760 kilometers, with eight pumping
stations and 101 block valves, BTC is the second longest pipeline in the world.
The US$4 billion project, completed a year later than originally expected, is
projected to have a daily capacity of 1 million barrels.
The BTC runs through difficult and dangerous territory. Not only does the route
pass through forbidding mountains and remote locales, including over 14 seismic
faults, but it runs dangerously close to the region's frozen conflicts and
hotspots: Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, the North Caucasus, Abkhazia,
Armenian enclaves in southern Georgia and the restive Kurdish regions of
The region has experienced an episode of sabotage as recently as January, when
suspicious explosions in North Ossetia cut off gas and electricity supplies to
Georgia. The pipeline also faces threats on the local level. Despite
reimbursement and reinstatement of the land from the British Petroleum-led BTC
consortium, locals staged frequent blockages during construction, and illegal
tapping attempts were found even before oil began to flow in May 2005.
The pipeline route is extensively monitored and patrolled. Sensors along the
entire length allow for any disruptions to be immediately spotted on a
constantly monitored digital map of the pipeline. In addition, a joint agreement
between the BTC consortium and the Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish governments
facilitates patrolling arrangements.
Georgia to the fore
Georgia has gone a step further, signing a bilateral agreement with BP to allow
for complementary security arrangements. BP field security teams regularly check
above-ground facilities and the company employs local Georgians to patrol the
entire right-of-way on horseback.
The conglomerate additionally is operating an extensive community relations
programme, aiming to maintain a strong rapport with residents living along the
route. These residents could form a first line of defence for the pipeline by
potentially alerting officials to any suspicious activity. In addition, the
agreement provides for patrols by units of Georgia's new 700-member Strategic
Pipeline Protection Department (SPPD), outfitted, trained and funded by BP.
Greg Realty to prepare 4th power line
The US company Greg Realty has won a tender to prepare a project for the
construction of a fourth power line between Armenia and Georgia, Levon Vardanian,
director of the development and PR department at the Armenian Energy Ministry,
said, Interfax News Agency reported.
He said the Georgian Energy Ministry called the tender. The project work, which
will be financed by the Georgian side, should be completed by the end of 2006.
The 400 kilovolt line will be the only power line capable of ensuring the
parallel work of the energy systems of both countries. Vardanian said the cost
of the project and sources of financing are still under discussion. Initially it
was planned to complete construction by the end of 2006, but work on the project
dragged out, he said. Armenia and Georgia are currently connected by three power
lines: two 110 kilo-volts and one 220 kilo-volts. Armenian Energy Minister Armen
Movsisian said earlier that after the construction of the fourth line the
capacity between the two countries would amount to 650 megawatts.
Saakashvili, Putin discuss ways to develop relations
Russian president, Vladimir Putin, told a news conference that his meeting with
Georgian counterpart, Mikhail Saakashvili, addressed "the unpleasant state
of Russian-Georgian relations and ways of not just restoring, but developing
bilateral ties," Interfax News Agency reported.
"We agreed to improve interaction mechanisms. We also spoke about frozen
conflicts. These problems cannot be solved at once, but there is a wish to work
on their solution," Putin said. The Russian president said that both he and
Saakashvili believe that "relations in the political sphere are not
developing normally, and we will look for ways of settling them. We have had
many grudges before due to lack of contacts and misunderstanding, but there is a
wish to quit this situation."
Asked whether the reports are true that a resolution is being drafted on banning
the transfer of individuals' and companies' money from Russia to Georgia,
Interfax quoted Putin as saying: "I have not given such instructions."
Asked about Georgia's demand sent through the Interpol to bring back to the
country Ajaria's former leader Aslan Abashidze, Putin said: "I have not
heard about it, but this sounds strange to me." He said Georgian leaders
used to ask Moscow not to impede Abashidze's arrival in Russia. "We had
concerns that Georgia will later demand his extradition, and we will find
ourselves in a difficult situation," he said. Speaking about the ban on
Georgian wine imports to Russia, Putin said Russia is interested in getting
high-quality products and thanked Saakashvili for putting order into this field.
He said that 60 per cent of wines exported to Russia were counterfeited.
Putin confirmed that Russia finds it necessary to proceed from international law
and interests of the people when it comes to protection of territorial
integrity. "If we want to settle the issue in the democratic way, we must
ask the opinion of the people," he said.
Russia's unilateral attempts to act bypassing the donor-countries and Georgia go
against the international community's efforts to achieve a comprehensive
political settlement in the Tskhinvali region, the Georgian foreign ministry
said in a statement summing up the results of a conference of donor-countries
dealing with the rehabilitation of the Tskhinvali region in Brussels on June 14.
"During the conference, Russian representatives made a statement on the
Russian government's intention to allocate 100 million roubles, but this money
should finance individual projects rather than go to the general donor
fund," the foreign ministry said. "Criticism of Russia at the
conference was prompted by its unwillingness to coordinate its steps with
Georgia and its unilateral cooperation with the de facto Tskhinvali
government," it said. "It was clearly pointed out at the conference
that Russia should act constructively and within a unified framework of the
international community," it said.
Saakashvili discusses tourism with governors
Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili, recently met with regional governors
appointed by the president to discuss the measures that should be taken in the
country to boost tourism through infrastructure development, Interfax News
On June 25th, Saakashvili launched the national presidential programme to boost
tourism which will attract 2.5 million people to Georgia's resorts annually. He
said at an initial stage two schools of tourism will be set up - one in Tbilisi
and another one in Kobuleti - to train a qualified staff that can provide a high
quality of service in tourism centres including in hotels and restaurants. A
third school of this kind will be established in Borjomi on the next stage,
Saakashvili said. "In general, quality of service, which is an important
factor for attraction of foreigners, is not satisfactory," he added. He
said creation of tourism infrastructure at the historic and cultural centres
throughout Georgia is another part of the national presidential programme to
boost tourism. Last year around 500,000-600,000 people including foreigners
visited Georgia's resorts in 2005 and in this context Saakahvili said the goal
of Georgia is to increase this figure in the next few years at least fourfold or
fivefold. He also stressed the creation of modern museums of high standard such
as museum of History of Batumi and Museum of Alfred Nobel in Batumi.