Georgians dread Gazprom2010-07-16 18:21
The scandal over possible sale of Georgia's gas-main pipeline to Russia is still on. Parliamentarians are disputing, banging parliament doors and fail to come to a unique position. The decision is almost here. The draft law on the pipeline withdrawal from the list of strategic facilities will be adopted in third reading in two days. What is in store for the longsuffering pipeline and how will major players act? This is what GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed with Alexander Rusetsky, head of South Caucasus institute for regional security and Soso Tsintsadze, president of Georgian Diplomatic Academy, a politologist.
It's been a long time since Georgia attracted so much attention. These 10-15 % of main-gas pipeline shares make different countries dance to the tambourine to pacify Georgia's parliamentary minority. Even the government offers a friendly hand to the opposition assuring that the control stake won't be sold away. As discussed behind the scenes it was Saakashvili himself who started this project to iron out difficulties in dialogue with Russia with the help of Gazprom's intermediary. It seems selling these shares to the Russian group is everyone's concern. According to our experts the pipeline was taken out of the list of non-privatizable facilities on purpose - since it is not operated at full capacity. Now the boom is guaranteed and a once ordinary facility will be made a hit.
Here is an incredible fact: it turns out that Russia and the USA have a common interest in the pipeline deal. Russia wants to accede into WTO. But until the embargo on imports of Georgian wines and mineral water is lifted and normal economic cooperation begins - things are in a bad way. The States, of course, are also interested in Russia's accession into WTO but what Washington wants the least is Georgia's closer ties with Turkey and Iran. Thus, Georgian authorities and US government, both having no warm feelings for the Russian Federation, choose the better of two evils. Georgians are afraid of money-offering Russians, but they are more afraid of being abandoned right at the door of Euro-Atlantic integration project.
Despite the crisis in Georgian-Russian relations, can the Georgian government or the opposition prefer Azerbaijan for the pipeline deal. It also, as we know, takes interest in the gas-main pipeline. May it be that selling a package to Azerbaijan, Georgia will strengthen its relations with Iran and Turkey and consequently stops being politically attractive to Europe and the States?