Former head of the National Bank of Georgia on Azerbaijan's role in rescuing his country from "gloom and freezing"
Tbilisi/01.04.22/apsny.ge: In 2006, when Russia blew up a gas pipeline connecting Georgia with Armenia in the territory of North Ossetia, attributing it to nonexistent terrorists, Azerbaijan saved Georgian strategic objects from freezing. Also in those days, Russia blew up high-voltage power poles on the Georgian territory. "The country was in darkness and freezing."
Deputy Roman Gotsiridze, then President of the National Bank of Georgia, told apsny.ge of how it was a day off and we had to summon employees of the National Bank to transfer money to get a small amount of gas from Azerbaijan. Technically it was nearly impossible, but it worked.
"...The main task was to get at least some gas to ensure the operation of facilities that cannot be stopped (including from a technological point of view). This was done with the help of the old, leaky pipeline dating from the Soviet times from Azerbaijan, which had been stopped for many years," Gotsiridze recalled.
He explained the Kremlin's plan: at the time, Russia promised Armenia and Georgia to restore the pipeline as soon as possible. It was a nice disguise - if it could carry out such sabotage against Georgia, then it could not allow the allied Armenia to freeze in winter, could it? In fact, Armenia had an underground gas storage facility, while Georgia did not. Armenia could supply itself with gas from its own reserves for two months. Based on that we expected that Russia would not let gas into the pipeline for two months until Armenia had enough reserves. And so it turned out.
The author further stressed the importance of hydrocarbon communications through Georgia, beginning in Baku. "If not for Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, which have caused immeasurably more damage to the environment than all the hydroelectric power plants built or under construction, today it is not difficult to imagine where we would be. In addition to being a source of financial income, they took on the role of a political umbrella and helped us break free from the claws of energy dependence on Russia. Unfortunately, the forests of Borjomi and other regions as well as 600 thousand hectares of state-owned land were sacrificed to this purpose" - writes Gutsiridze.
The aim of his article is to show the Russian danger to Georgian energy independence. The electric power communications can be blown up again, and Russia has many tools for that. But Russia cannot undermine Georgia's gas supply because "we receive it entirely from Azerbaijan.
Gutsiridze believes that Russia is not blowing up power towers bringing electricity to Georgia because Georgia has its own electricity. Additional electricity came from neighboring countries - Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia - which increased Georgia's import capacity in critical cases. However, the country did not become energy independent, continuing to depend directly on Russia until the Enguri hydroelectric plant, as the basic regulating station, is replaced by another, and not one or two.
"Suffice it for one Russian soldier in Gali, in the village of Saberio, not far from the big reservoir called the Gali Sea, to push a button and the whole of Georgia will be in darkness. It's not profitable for the Russians to do that right now."
Today, the gas flowing through Georgia goes to South Europe. Perhaps, writes the deputy, a small gas storage facility will be built, not only to hedge risks, but also to produce seasonal surplus gas reserves. "The time will come when the volume of gas flowing through our territory will increase." - R.Gotsiridze, former head of the National Bank of Georgia, summed it up.-0-