Speeches & Statements

President Saakashvili's address at the energy conference

Our countries truly need energy diversification. We are once again noting that our region is of major geopolitical significance. Energy resources should be available for all. For this to happen, not only states, but also companies must work together to develop the energy corridor between Central Asia and Europe.

Some heads of state point out that it is often difficult to comprehend all of the region's particularities. I am confident that this view will change - the European Commission has drawn up an especially good policy for this. We value Poland's position and it is certain that they will be joined by Germany and the United Kingdom. This is very important.

It is also very important that governments and companies work together in order to set out these long-term objectives. We must present concrete proposals to our peoples. We must invite certain people and show concrete initiative because there are no major problems in Central Asia. It is a stable region which has resources and wishes to cooperate with us. There is nothing holding us back.

This is why we must change our approaches. We are capable of this and we must do it.

Take for example the initiative regarding the corridor from Central Asia to Europe put forth by Poland at the Krakow summit. It is precisely through such projects that our region gains its importance.

We do not need to draw up long-term strategies. We need to make concrete plans and fulfil them. These initiatives must ensure that Central Asia is linked to Europe. We heard rhetorical speeches about the South Caucasus petroleum pipeline in Ashgabat and Krakow.

I have read several articles saying that the construction of a trans-Caspian gas pipeline is unrealistic because there are alternatives in the region and that the implementation of the project is unimaginable.

But let me assure you that this project is realistic and can be implemented. It will be very good if there is healthy competition.

Had this winter not been relatively mild, there might have been serious problems with the supply of Russian gas to Europe.

All countries need healthy competition and investments, including Russia.

For this we must participate in the implementation of projects aimed at opening channels for the energy sector.

Georgia has proven that it is a reliable partner and that it is ready to have the energy corridor transporting Caspian oil run through its territory.

This year I met leading officials of the United Arab Emirates. Singapore, Estonia and many other countries receive energy resources through Georgia.

Georgia is trying to strengthen its economy. We have been named the number one economic reformer country in the world. This means that we have taken the right decisions and that we are capable of creating an environment conducive to investment that benefits our friends and makes our region's resources accessible. This means that our country is on the road to revival. This means that our country has a more flexible government that is truly capable of participating in all world processes.

We are also well aware of what model for cooperation among countries of this region should be followed and we have shown everyone that we are capable of doing this. Let me cite an example from two years ago to illustrate this. When the gas pipeline [connecting Georgia and Russia] blew up in undetermined circumstances [in January 2006] Georgia was left without natural gas during a very cold winter.

Azerbaijan helped the people of Georgia despite the fact that they had certain problems of their own. Azerbaijan lent a hand to its neighbouring country at the expense of limiting gas supplies to its own population. This was not a decision taken just on the basis of friendship and emotion. This was a strategic step taken so that we could say 'No-one can cut off Georgia's lines of strategic cooperation.'

This year as well pressure was exerted on Azerbaijan to keep it from supplying gas to Georgia, but our ally nevertheless accumulated everything it could export and again provided us with gas. This year we had the best winter yet and I repeat once again that this was Azerbaijan's strategic choice. I think that this is a brilliant example of regional cooperation.

Ukraine did the same for Moldova. When gas supplies to Moldova were turned off, Ukraine gave it some of its own resources.

We should understand that we are all interconnected with one another.

We must seek to ensure each other's stability so that there is a stable and calm environment in the region that is conducive to cooperation. This is a precondition for each country's advancement and success.

Our presence here and our participation in this conference are very important.

Ukraine and Georgia have had problems concerning the supply of natural gas. An economic and political embargo was imposed on Georgia and a trade war is raging, but despite all of this we can still say that this is a region of great economic growth.

Our people are among the world's most optimistic when it comes to our region's development. This is a region which promises energy security to Europe and the rest of the world. This situation is very beneficial for Europe.

Our cooperation with Turkey is of decisive importance. We are not looking for short-term gains, we only support long term cooperation, so we must implement long-term projects.

We must not put up with monopolies over energy resources because if we manage to protect the countries of our region we will also manage to ensure that there is no monopolization over energy resources. And conversely, we will manage to protect our own energy security.

It will benefit everyone if we take care of the security issue and foster cooperation that is based on the equal and just representation of all countries.

Creating a secure environment in our region means guaranteeing Europe's security.

Our partners Kazakhstan and Turkey also deserve mention. We have held talks with the presidents of these countries and it is clear just how well they comprehend the importance of energy diversification.

We must improve relations and cooperation with European countries and work fruitfully with them.

The previous speaker noted that people said the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was unrealistic. When it comes to energy diversification and our development, nothing is unrealistic. On the contrary, the implementation of these projects is realistic, important and even inevitable.

This in turn will allow us to move forward quickly, develop and at the same time receive maximum economic gain.

In addition to guaranteeing our countries' energy security, all of this will also bring us political and economic success.

I must also touch on the political problems that face our region. We wish to work on solving the problems in our region. There are frozen conflicts and hearths of instability here, but we have demonstrated to the world many times that we seek to resolve them peacefully. These conflicts must not impede our countries' development and must not be allowed to affect our economic indicators.

This year 2bn US dollars were invested directly in Georgia and next year this figure will be even greater. We have are achieving faster economic growth with each passing year. We are interested in creating a stable and safe environment.

In conclusion, I would like to restate my view that it is important that all countries in our region see benefit and that there are no monopolies.

We expect that all interested parties will work together more fruitfully and more effectively.

Thank you very much.

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

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