Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze has strongly reiterated that Georgia will not trade off its assets, including its gas pipeline system, with Russia’s Gazprom under any conditions.
Gazprom’s top executive Alexander Medvedev said on November 7 that the Russian energy giant will sell gas to Georgia in 2007 at the current price, USD 110 per 1000 cubic meters, instead of the planned USD 230 – if Tbilisi agrees to give some of its assets to the Russian gas monopoly. The 'assets' in question most likely refers the main gas pipeline in Georgia, which Gazprom has expressed interest in buying before.
“There will be no trade off with Georgia’s gas pipeline. I was always and will always be against this. And I can say with full responsibility that President Saakashvili is strongly against it. And I also want to say that my position over this issue also has much weight. Energy independence is of vital importance for us, and we are ready to pay any price for this,” Nino Burjanadze said at the parliamentary session on November 8.
Burjanadze’s remarks came after some opposition lawmakers expressed concern that the government might engage in a trade with Gazprom.
She also said that Armenia has handed its energy facilities over to Russia, but added that “there are no investments there, because Russia is not interesting in the development of Armenia’s economy as well.”
“There will be no compromise. We know the price of our independence. I know that our parliamentary opposition and we the ruling majority are united over our aspirations towards NATO and the EU. Maybe there were some talks about this issue [selling the pipeline system to Russia] some two years ago, but today it is no longer on the agenda. There will be no compromise. Now we only have to explain to our people that this is a price we have to pay for our independence,” Mikheil Machavariani, Vice-Speaker of the Parliament, said.
MP Lado Papava warned that Gazprom might be interested in more than taking over only the gas pipeline, which is used to deliver gas to Georgia and Armenia.
“Gazprom is also eying some other assets in Georgia. But even if we sell these assets to Gazprom, it will only help us maintain the current gas price for one year and then the price will go up anyway. So it is clear that there should be no tradeoff,” he told the parliamentary session.
Opposition lawmakers from the Republican and New Rights parties, who share the position of the MPs from ruling party, warned that some governmental officials are interested in selling the gas pipeline.
“There is State Minister [for Economic Reforms] Kakha Bendukidze, whose stance about the issue is well-known. If the government is strongly determined not to sell this gas pipeline, then why this person is still in this position?” MP Davit Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party said.
In the past, Kakha Bendukidze said several times that there is no threat in selling Georgia’s gas pipeline system, but he always added that this was his personal position that was not shared by the government.