Speeches & Statements

President Saakashvil’s comments on pipeline explosion to BBC news

Unfortunately it looks like Georgia is experiencing a similar energy crisis to that which took place in Ukraine a few weeks ago. What I mean is that Russia remains our unreliable and unpredictable provider of energy. What happened here was, we had explosions on two main gas lines supplying Georgia and explosion on main electricity line in Georgia, which is on the Russian territory. The explosion took place on an area fully under Russian control, on a Russian border control area.

With heavy presence of Russian border guard, with heavy presence of Russian security service and those are two totally different areas. They happened at the same time and basically did not affect supplies to Russia. So we can conclude that it was very well organized and very well coordinated act.

These interruptions took place against a very difficult history of gas negotiations, gas threats from Russia. We had overnight price doubling; basically we thought it would destroy us but we absorbed it and just carried on. Then we had stubborn attempts from Russia to get control on gas pipeline linking Russia, Georgia and Armenia basically by trying to destroy that project of alternative gas pipeline of Central Asia and Azerbaijan. We received numerous threats by Russian politicians and officials at different levels to punish us, basically not only for not giving them the pipeline, but what amounts to successful democratic pro-western course and I think, what has really happened, I mean the timing of this, when our energy minister was touring the region looking for the alternative energy sources, when tomorrow we were opening a new US built gas turbine station that would finally stabilize Georgia's energy system. In fact, that we have the coldest winter now and basically, they knew that they were hitting us hard exactly at the right moment. I mean the whole thing is that, the very way it was selected - the preliminary history, the way it was coordinated, the extend of the damage done, that should have been the result of many hours of preparation.

You don't blow up with such explosion in the zone heavily controlled by security services. This was a safe area where Russia border guard exercises full control to our knowledge, I think that everything seems at least very dubious and suspicious.

Since Rose Revolution Georgia has dramatically improved the energy situation. This is the first winter since our independence when Georgia did not have energy problems, when we paid all our bills, people threw away kerosene lamps, threw away primitive heaters we were having, more gas is supplied, our gas consumption has doubled for the last two months and this was why we were hit hard. Our growth rate is very healthy and we are expecting 10 per cent growth, last year we had almost nine per cent, so basically after all of this dramatic and rapid development and very stable energy situation, this is the first winter when we had no problem with supply and that is where we were hit hard. Yes, we had energy problems prior to Rose Revolution but that was one of our achievements that we fixed. We fixed it and diversified it. Starting from next fall we will not need Russian gas, because we are getting alternative gas from our neighboring Azerbaijan, we are working now on alternative routes and sources from Central Asia via Azerbaijan, Black Sea, Ukraine to Europe and Russia knows it properly well. So this is the last winter they can really hit us like this and they have been telling us that they would do it. It is not like my speculation, I would rather not think in those terms. I would rather believe that it was some accident but it does not look like this. I mean that nobody in Georgia forcefully believes that it is like it, because we were menaced. This was the possible scenario depicted to us by many counterparts in Russia for many months and years prior to what happened.

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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