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Deal with Gazprom commercial secret

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, January 20
Georgia’s Energy Minister, Kakha Kaladze, says a new deal reached with Russian gas provider company Gazprom is a commercial secret; however, if possible its details will be disclosed to the public.

The Minister made the statement in response to 80 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), opposition MPs and the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, who criticized Kaladze for accepting changed conditions of the deal and called on him to disclose the details of the contract.

The Minister stressed that all deals Georgia had with Gazprom in the past were also confidential.

“You know that such deals are a commercial secret. However, I will do my best to disclose the details, if possible,” he said.

Kaladze also said that the comments made by some politicians, that the deal endangers Georgia’s energy independence and is economically unprofitable, are wrong.

The minister believes that such statements are populistic, and politicians are simply trying to boost their flagging popularity.

“It is sad that some political groups make such statements and are putting the country's sustainable development at risk,” he stressed.

The Minister explained that the conditions of the deal remained the same, and only the form of payment was changed.

“The government has made rational steps towards Gazprom. We were able to maintain the same degree of energy independence, the country's transit role in the region and stable development. Only the form of payment was changed,” Kaladze said.

Moreover, he said that the President has right to request the details of the agreement and his statement, in which he stated the deal with Gazprom worsened Georgia’s energy sector, was “improper”.

“The President has access to the deal and he should not have made the unqualified and unreasoned statements that we have heard in the recent days,” the Minister said.

Kaladze also expressed readiness to go to Parliament with regards to the Gazprom issue, as the opposition United National Movement (UNM) party had requested.

The UNM said last week that the new deal with Gazprom was “anti-state” and they called on Kaladze to stand before Parliament and provide a detailed explanation.

Kaladze says the UNM has no right to make such comments.

“The previous government under the UNM gave a large part of our territories to Russia in 2008 due to their unreasonable policy, and today they say that the Gazprom agreement is a betrayal,” he said.

The new deal with Gazprom was reached on January 10 2017, and it means that Georgia, as a transit country for the transportation of Russian gas to Armenia, will from 2018 receive payment from Gazprom.

Under the previous agreement, which expired on December 31 2016, Russia has been paying Georgia for gas transportation by supplying natural gas to the amount of 10% of the volume of transported gas.