The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Tuesday, April 5
Metropolitan employees threaten to paralyse Tbilisi Metro on April 8

On April 8, Tbilisi Metro may not function, members of the Ertoba 2013 professional union have declared.

Train drivers and other employees have gathered and held a protest, addressing the Tbilisi Transport Company with three main requests.

According to union member Emzar Barbakadze, the Metro employees demand their remuneration to be according to the years they have worked.

According to them, they are giving the administration three days to comply. If their conditions are not fulfilled the Metro may cease functioning from the morning of April 8.

Georgian Defence Minister Speaks on the phone with Armenian, Azerbaijani Counterparts

Georgia's Defence Minister Tina Khidasheli spoke by phone with her Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts to address the renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Georgian Ministry of Defence said.

The Georgian MoD said on April 4 that Khidasheli “expressed hope for a ceasefire and return to the negotiating table”.

“The Georgian Minister noted that stability in the region is of vital importance for Georgia and the international community should spare no efforts to de-escalate the situation,” the Georgian MoD said.

Georgia’s PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili convened a meeting of senior government, parliament and security officials on April 3 to discuss the conflict between Georgia’s neighbors, Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh region, where renewed fighting has killed dozens.

Speaking at the NATO-Georgia Public Diplomacy Forum in Tbilisi on April 4, PM Kvirikashvili expressed “concern over the escalation of the situation in our neighborhood”.

“We hope that it will be possible to de-escalate situation through the efforts of the international community, which is so important for peace and stability in our region and beyond,” the Georgian PM said.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Vakhtang Kapanadze, told journalists on the sideline of the forum that Tbilisi keeps “close communication without our colleagues in Azerbaijan and Armenia”. “We hope there will be a ceasefire soon,” he said.

Georgia aims to maintain 10% share of Gazprom natural gas transit

Georgia has offered Gazprom to continue the transit of natural gas to Armenia under the same conditions as before.

The details of the new offer are not known, but negotiations between the Georgian government and Gazprom will finish within days, Deputy Energy Minister Mariam Valishvili has said.

The Energy Ministry press office told DFWatch that Valishvili would not comment on any additional details apart from what she said on Wednesday.

Georgia no longer needs additional import of natural gas from Russia after signing a contract with Azerbaijan’s Socar, but negotiations continue over the conditions of transit of gas to Armenia through Georgia.

This means that Georgia aims to maintain its 10 percent share of the natural gas transferred to Armenia, which amounts to 200 million cubic meters of gas per year. However, Gazprom wants to pay a fee instead of providing natural gas to Georgia.

Since the second half of 2015, the Georgian government has spoken of the need for additional gas supply due to increased consumption and was in negotiations with Gazprom about meeting that demand.

However, on March 4, Georgia and Azerbaijan’s Socar signed agreement about Socar providing additional 500 million cubic meters of gas and the Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze said that Georgia would no longer need to purchase additional gas from Russia.

According to the agreement signed on March 4, a memorandum between Georgia and Socar signed in December 2011 was amended. The memorandum is in force until 2030. The amendment means that the price of commercial gas for the gas stations is reduced by USD 35/USD 40 for 1,000 cubic meters, but it is unknown what the price for the commercial sector was before the amendment.

A letter sent by the Energy Ministry to the Republican Party in 2015 says the contract is a commercial secret, but the ministry also informed that the private sector is purchasing gas from Socar for the price of EUR 260 per 1,000 cubic meters.

The Energy Ministry provided DFWatch data about consumption of gas in Georgia, which shows the annual consumption and what amount of gas Georgia receives from different countries.
(DF watch)