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Tbilisi and Sukhum: at the end of rope09.09.2009 | 10:03
The situation at the Abkhaz coast has been heated up. Tbilisi says that it will continue detaining the ships going to Abkhazia. Sukhum is threatening to sink the Georgian ships for piracy. Brussels' appeal to both parties to keep from militaristic statements and settle all the problems by way of negotiations resembles a voice in the wilderness. Meanwhile, there is the possibility of another turn of confrontation between the neighbors. It is the ownership of the Inguri hydroelectric station that may become the reason for it. Besides, according to President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh, Sukhum has got territorial claims on Georgia.
The Inguri hydroelectric station has long been the reason for the journalists to lock horns with each other and the politicians to vainly try to find any compromise on the point. Tbilisi regards this hydroelectric station to be its property, just like it regards the whole Abkhazia to be the Georgian territory. Meanwhile, yesterday, President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh in his interview to Gazeta.Ru and Kavkazskiy Uzel left open the possibility that Russia is going to take part in operating the Inguri hydroelectric station in future.
When asked whether the Inguri hydroelectric station will pass into the ownership of Russia after its possible reconstruction, Sergey Bagapsh answered: "It will remain in the ownership of Abkhazia. Variants are possible: there are joint ventures - joint operation; there is also the option of placing it in management for some time just like we have done it with our railway. This is a good variant. No selling, no transference from balance to balance; this is joint operation. Yet, we have not agreed with Inter RAO UES upon several positions. We have got a preliminary agreement which is being developed and adjusted. There are certain discrepancies and misunderstanding, which, I believe, can be got over".
Bagapsh did not rule out the possibility of signing some legal document with Georgia in respect of Inguri-GES (Inguri hydroelectric station). He also underlined: "Unfortunately, today it is impossible to discuss anything with the current Georgian authorities, both political and those working in the field of energy because the idea of Abkhazia being part of Georgia, even after our recognition, is a fixed idea, which regrettably gets stuck in one's head for long. No one benefits from the situation, including the energy field".
The Georgian media are already shouting loud that Inguri-GES might share the same fate as the Abkhaz railway. Let us remind you that the Abkhaz railway was placed in Russian management for a period of 10 years. Meanwhile, the situation around Inguri-GES became the reason for sorting out relationship between the Georgian government and the opposition. Inguri-GES is the largest hydroelectric station in the Caucasus. The hydraulic works is located in the territory of Georgia, while the control panel and the main generator hall are located in Abkhazia. The drop structures and the Galskoye water reservoir, from where water is supplied, are also located there. That is why, cooperation between the parties is necessary for the full-scale normal operation of the cascade. More than half of energy produced by Inguri-GES is consumed by Georgia; the rest goes to Abkhazia and the southern regions of Russia.
The memorandum signed between Georgia and the Russian party was never disclosed within the last nine months. The Georgian opposition accused the authorities of cooperating with Russia. The essence of accusations goes as follows: we have lost the war and now, despite the absence of any diplomatic relations, the Russian company is going to own a Georgian strategic site. A wave of indignation rose among the Georgian oppositional forces. It was not only the minister of energy, who has signed the memorandum, but President Mikhail Saakashvili as well that was brought to account for such an irresponsible step. By the way, the account was rather serious, for the discontented demanded that both persons should be brought to justice.
Then, during the meeting with the journalists in Tbilisi, Minister of Energy Khetaguri regarded it necessary to underline: "100 percent of the Inguri-GES equity is owned and will be owned by the state of Georgia". However, Sukhum is sure that Inguri GES is the property of Abkhazia. Before that, the president of Abkhazia had stressed this fact in his interview, so the mentioned energy site may all the same become a reason for sorting things out between Sukhum and Tbilisi.
Besides, Sergey Bagapsh also pointed out that Abkhazia, as well as South Ossetia, has got its own territorial claims on Georgia. He said he would not make these claims public and that Abkhazia is going to raise this question during the demarcation of the boundary. "We will raise these matters when the issue of demarcation is touched upon; in particular, the issue of the border in the Galskiy region. We have got historic materials proving that these lands belonged to us initially. Still, it is not yet time to raise this question", - Bagapsh stated.