Books on Georgia
Update No: 313 - (25/01/07)
The Georgians are feeling their way to the modern world. They
are not quite sure where they are going; everything is perilous. But they know
what they are going from - and wherefore to- the EU.
A new constitution
Georgia's Western-leaning president proposed on January 17th drafting a new
constitution that would conform to European democratic standards. "I
believe that we, along with the opposition, should consider drafting a new
Constitution that would be adjusted to modern European democracy," Mikheil
Saakashvili said. "The current Constitution has a lot of drawbacks that
need to be removed."
Signing amendments to the Constitution that allow for simultaneous parliamentary
and presidential elections in the South Caucasus state next fall, Saakashvili
said that drafting a new Constitution would take several years and require
consensus between the authorities and the opposition.
He said he planned to step up cooperation with the opposition, which voted
against the amendments, arguing that Saakashvili's campaign would help the
ruling party win a majority in parliament.
Saakashvili said a new body, an enlarged national security council, would be set
up to comprise all lawmakers willing to contribute to the debate on the
country's foreign policies.
The gas problem with Russia
A few weeks ago after complex negotiations a new gas price was fixed between
Gazprom and Georgia. After failing to find gas in other countries president
Saakashvili was forced to agree to pay US$235 for 1,000 cubic meters of gas -
the highest price in the territory of CIS.
Saakashvili declared beforehand that US$235 was not an economic but a political
price and that Tbilisi would not pay such a price and was even prepared to
refuse to buy the Russian gas. But after it became clear that Georgia could not
expect to get gas from the neighbouring countries, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey,
it was forced to accept the Russian offer. In principle, Georgia could get gas
from Iran through the territory of Azerbaijan this winter as it did a year ago,
when the pipeline supplying Georgia was damaged in North Caucasus. However, this
year the United States made it clear to Saakashvili that it would not tolerate
Iran-Georgia cooperation because of the problems the Islamic Republic had with
the international community.
The Georgian president immediately went to Turkey in the hope of getting a
portion of the gas to be supplied to Turkey from the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz
deposit. Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli went to Azerbaijan with the
same mission. Though it was difficult, Tbilisi succeeded in reducing its
dependence on the Russian energy recourses and this year Georgia will import gas
from Azerbaijan (800 million cubic meters) and Russia (1.1 billion cubic
meters). Saakashvili described the decision of Azerbaijan to supply Georgia with
gas this winter as a "gesture of genuine friendship and brotherhood."
During his meeting with the students of the Tbilisi State University Georgian
president stated that Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev had made a
"historic decision" and that "not many leaders would adopt such a
decision." Saakashvili also stated that the decision to supply Georgia with
gas from the Shah Deniz deposit was "very important for Georgia which has
not only been under a trade and transport blockade since 2006 but, in fact, was
condemned to energy death by the Russian side."
Estonian cooperation agreement signed with Georgia
Estonia and Georgia have endorsed their commitment of strengthening bilateral
tie through a new agreement. The Ministries of Defence of Estonia and Georgia
signed an agreement on bilateral cooperation in 2007 on December 21st, New
The Estonian delegation landed in Georgia earlier in the day. The nine-member
delegation was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Urmas Paet,
accompanied by the representative of the Estonian Defence Ministry, Hanes Hanso,
and Ambassador of Georgia to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, David Aptsiauri.
David Kezerashvili, the Minister of Defence of Georgia and Levan Nikoleishvili,
the First Deputy Defence Minister, received the Estonian delegation. According
to an earlier briefing by the Estonian defence ministry, one of the major goals
of the visit was sharing of the Estonian NATO integration experience with
Georgia. The Estonian side promised to help Georgia in this direction.
During the meeting, the sides discussed the process of Intensified Dialogue with
NATO, Georgian-Russian relations, military cooperation between Estonia and
Georgia, ongoing reforms in the Georgian Armed Forces, future perspectives and
plans. After the meeting, Defence Ministries of Estonia and Georgia signed the
Bilateral Cooperation Plan for 2007.
Estonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs met with his Georgian counterpart Gela
Bezhuashvili and deputy chairperson of the parliament.
At the press conference held after the meeting, Georgia's First Deputy Defence
Minister Levan Nikoleishvili said: "Estonia has a serious experience in
cooperation with NATO and the most important of all- their benevolence towards
Georgia. They are ready to assist us at any stage from ID including MAP."
"This is actually every day cooperation between our and The Georgian
Ministry of Defence and we share our experience what we got when we were in the
process of joining NATO and we are very satisfied with this cooperation,"
said the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet. "I hope that our
experience is useful for building up the Georgian Army and making those needed
changes and reforms to be ready for MAP and after that for membership in
NATO," he added.
Shah Deniz to supply Georgia with gas
Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili, said on December 21st that the Shah
Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan will be the main gas supplier of Georgia, but
noted that the country should still ensure other sources of supply. "I am
optimistic about the results of the talks here, but here are many technical
issues. But the most important thing we should understand is that Georgia should
never again depend on a single supplier. We should do everything to avoid
dependence on a single supplier," the president told journalists on
December 21st in Turkey, New Europe reported.
Saakashvili said the Georgian government is working to find the best possible
options. "The price on gas on the world market is increasing. Our goal is
to make the price increase less painful for our families, because I know very
well how much each family in Georgia suffers. The government has been instructed
over this issue as well to find the best options in order to make the transition
less painful," he said.
Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili hailed talks on supplies of Azeri
gas with Turkey. "Turkey is ready to take Georgia's interests into
consideration and to cooperate with the country in the area," the minister
told journalists on December 20th in Ankara.
Azeri state oil company SOCAR launched two weeks ago a new gas pipeline that
will bring natural gas from the Shah Deniz gas condensate field to the Azerigaz
network, the monopolist on gas transportation in Azerbaijan, SOCAR said.
"We have completed the construction of a 4.5-kilometre pipeline. The
pipeline is equipped with an automated system for regulating pressure and
distributing gas. Construction has been completed and the pipeline is prepared
to transport gas," the statement said. The construction of the pipeline was
carried out in full accordance with the standards of BP, the technical operator
of the Shah Deniz field, SOCAR said. The management of SOCAR's gas operations
ordered the construction of the pipeline and Kaspmorneftegazstroi was the
contractor. Gas is to start being extracted from the field in the next few days.
The field's reserves are estimated at 625 billion cubic metres of gas and 101
million tonnes of condensate. Stage-1 development includes the production of 178
billion cubic metres of gas and 34 million tonnes of condensate.
During peak production under Stage-1 the field will produce 8.4 billion cubic
metres of gas and two million tonnes of condensate per year. Stage-1 also
includes a project to transport gas to Turkey through the South Caucasus
Turkey expected to receive an estimated 2.8 billion cubic metres of Shah Deniz
gas in 2007. However, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey later agreed on additional
volumes for Georgia from the share assigned to Turkey.
Georgia can hope to get 800 million cubic metres from Turkey's gas quota plus
250 million cubic metres under the earlier signed contract within the framework
of the Shah Deniz project. Georgia's demand for gas in 2007 is estimated at
1.7-1.8 billion cubic metres.
Meanwhile, three Georgian companies have sealed contracts for 2007 gas
deliveries from Russian gas giant Gazprom, preventing a threatening conflict
over gas supplies, a Gazprom official said December 22nd.
The contracts amount to 1.1 billion cubic metres of Russian gas at the asking
price of US$235 per 1,000 cubic metres, the head of Gazprom Export, Alexander
Medvedev, told reporters in Moscow.
Georgia has yet to confirm the agreement. Economics Minister Giorgi Arveladse
had rejected Gazprom's demands on December 21st in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
Russian gas company Itera shut off gas supplies to six Georgian cities and
districts on December 21st for not paying their bills.
Shortly before Medvedev's announcement, a spokesman for Gazprom, Sergei
Kupriyanov said on December 22nd in Moscow that as Georgia had not reacted, the
country apparently did not want to buy Russian gas in 2007.
Georgian gas import plan for 2007 emerges, needs to be defined
A tentative breakdown of Georgia's gas import plan for 2007 has emerged, but the
average price to be formulated by a combination of expensive Russian gas and
relatively cheap gas from Azerbaijan still needs to be defined, New Europe
Georgian Prime Minister, Zurab Nogaideli, said on December 29 that, during the
winter period, Georgia will receive most of its gas from Gazprom, while only
one-eighth of its gas needs will come from Azerbaijan.
An agreement has been reached with the Azerbaijani side over the delivery of one
million cubic metres of gas per day during his visit to Baku on December 25, he
said. The price of this gas will be US$120 per 1000 cubic metres.
Georgia has not yet received any gas from the Shah-Deniz field because of
technical problems. The date of the launch of Shah-Deniz gas to Turkey via
Georgia is expected to be known by mid or late January, the premier said.
He said Georgia will "reduce and eventually stop" importing Russian
gas as soon as technical problems are fixed at the drilling wells of the Shah-Deniz
But it is unclear how Georgia will stop importing Russian gas when Gazprom has
already signed three one-year contracts and one three-month contract with
companies in Georgia on the delivery of a total of 1.46 billion cubic metres of
gas in 2007 for US$235 per 1000 cubic metres.
This amount is about 80 per cent of Georgia's projected gas consumption for next
The Georgian authorities have also not specified how Russian gas will be
replaced, as there is not yet an agreement on the delivery of any additional gas
Georgia, according to the original agreement signed in October 2003, will
receive 250 million cubic metres from Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz field - 200
million of which is a fee for transit, and 50 million to be bought at the
preferential price of US$55 per 1000 cubic metres.
The Russian gas share of 1.46 billion cubic metres, along with the Shah-Deniz
gas share of 250 million, plus one million cubic metres from Azerbaijani's other
sources per day during the winter period, already adds up to the total amount of
gas - more than 1.71 billion cubic metres - needed for Georgia next year. It is
not yet clear what the average gas price will be.
Georgia to build Kars-Akhalkalaki railroad
The Kars-Akhalkalaki railroad will be built despite the position of the US
Congress, Georgian Foreign Minister, Gela Bezhuashvili, said. The railroad's
planned route would cross Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, New Europe reported.
"All necessary resources to construct the road without US participation
exist, and the road will be built as it is important for Georgia, Azerbaijan and
Turkey individually, and for the transport corridor linking Europe and China in
general," the minister told journalists on January 10th.
The United States refused to finance the construction of the project, because
Armenia will not take part in it. It is expected that the length of the
Kars-Akhalkalaki railroad will be 98 kilometres. The total value of the project
will be approximately US$400 million. Georgia will receive a loan from
Azerbaijan and Turkey to construct its part of the railroad.