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The News in Brief

Friday, March 10
Enguri HPP Resumes Operation

The Enguri hydropower plant, Abkhazia’s main energy supplier, resumed its operation on February 28 following a temporary shutdown for monitoring the pressure tunnel.

During the monitoring period, which was launched on February 19 as part of the initial preparatory works for a larger rehabilitation project scheduled for 2018, power for the region was supplied by the Russian side and the deficit was covered by Georgia, as noted in the statement of the Georgian Energy Ministry released on February 21.

Speaking at a news briefing on March 3, Aslan Basaria, head of the Abkhaz state-owned energy company Chernomorenergo, said that the Enguri hydropower plant will be able to meet Abkhazia’s energy demand from early April.

“If there will be no cold weather, we will be able to easily move to our own resources by late March or early April. At this point, power to Abkhazia is supplied by the Russian Federation,” Basaria explained.

Breakaway Abkhazia fully relies on electricity generated by the Enguri hydropower plant, whose 271.5-meter-tall concrete arch dam is located on the Georgian side of the administrative border and its five generators are on the Abkhaz side in Gali district.

According to a long-standing, informal agreement between Tbilisi and Sokhumi 40% of the electricity generated by the plant goes to Abkhazia and the rest 60% is received by rest of Georgia.

In 2015 Georgia distributed 1,797 million kWh electricity to Abkhazia, 17.31% of Georgia’s overall consumption, according to Georgia’s Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission’s report. In 2014 and 2013 Abkhazia was supplied by 1,638 million kWh electricity (16.11%) and 1,605 million kWh electricity (16.57%) respectively. (

EU denies link between Georgia visa waiver and refugee centers proposal

A member of the European Union's executive branch denies that there is any connection between a proposal to host refugee centers in Georgia and the recent decision to allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Georgian passport holders.

Large Russian media outlets have claimed that when Georgia was granted visa-free travel to the EU, it also accepted hosting centers for holding recent rejected refugees for the EU.

A spokesperson for EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told Voice of America’s Georgian service that visa waiver system for Georgia was based solely on an action plan presented to and accepted by the Georgian government in 2013. The plan contains no mention of refugee centers.

“The Commission has been monitoring progress made by the Georgian authorities since the visa liberalization dialogue was launched and concluded in December 2015, that all benchmarks under this Action plan were met,” reads a written comment by the EU official’s spokesperson.

“The fulfillment of the criteria in the Action Plan, and these criteria only, is the basis on which the Commission proposed to grant visa free travel to Georgian citizens for short stays.”

The confusion was caused by an interview with Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz published in the German newspaper Bild, which stated that the EU needs refugee centers outside its external borders and suggested Georgia, Egypt and Balkan states as possible locations for such centers.

Kurtz visited Georgia a month earlier.

Georgian officials firmly rejected the idea of hosting such centers (

OSCE Chairmanship concerned about closure of crossing points, stresses negative implications for local population

Reacting to the closure of two crossing points along the Administrative Boundary Line of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, Nabakevi-Khurcha and Meore Otobaia-Orsantia, which reduces the number of crossing points to two, following the closure of two others in 2016, a spokesperson of the OSCE Chairmanship said today:

“We have closely followed the latest developments on the ground. We believe this decision has a number of negative consequences, in particular concerning the freedom of movement of the population on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line. We therefore call for meaningful dialogue as well as swift and pragmatic solutions, in order to avoid further repercussions for the local population’s everyday life.”

The spokesperson emphasized the importance of the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meetings as platforms for constructive engagement. These are respectively co-chaired and co-facilitated by the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus, Ambassador Gunther Bachler. (

40-tetri microbus travel fare to increase in Tbilisi

The Tbilisi Microbus company has increased travel fares for some routes in Tbilisi. The company has released a statement in this regard, according to which, short distance travel fare will become equal to the municipal transport fare. In particular, passengers will have to pay 50 instead of 40 tetris. However, 80-tetri fares will not be changed.

According to the company, they adjusted their tariff policy to the economic situation of the country in 2011, when the company entered the market.

“Despite the fact that since 2011 the national currency has suffered serious fluctuations which affected the prices of all the products that are needed for safe and comfortable transfer of passengers, we have maintained our tariff policy unchanged almost for six years,” says the company in the statement.

According to the company, they decided to increase travel fare in order to improve the conditions of transfer of passengers and protect the labour rights of their employees. (ipn)