Georgia, a former Soviet republic, joins European energy treaty

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina,  Europe is laying a broader foundation under its collective energy system with a partnership with Georgia, a former Soviet republic, an official said.

Europe builds on energy solidarity by welcoming the Republic of Georgia to an energy treaty. File photo by Billie Jean Shaw/UPI

Georgia joined the Energy Community Treaty during a meeting in Sarejevo after unanimous support from a council of European ministers.

“With yet another new country joining the Energy Community family, this framework for the creation of a pan-European energy system is once again showing that it is relevant and successful,” Dominique Ristori, director general for energy at the European Commission, said in a statement.

The accession of Georgia was witnessed by ministers from Western Balkan nations, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The energy treaty in parts calls for an integrated natural gas market, “based on common interest and solidarity.”

In 2014, Georgia opened a transport terminal for a pipeline tied to infrastructure associated with the Shah Deniz gas field off the coast of Azerbaijan, a field that Europe views as a means to diversify a natural gas market dependent on Russia. For Georgia, it’s part of a broader shift away from the Kremlin.

The region in Eastern Europe has seen conflicts in the past centered in part on Russian energy infrastructure. Georgia in 2008 launched a military attack on the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia, sending ripples through the regional energy sector due to the proximity of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the second longest in the world.

Suspected terrorists in Georgia were arrested for plotting attacks on area gas pipelines in August.

Officials with Russian energy company Gazprom met with South Ossetian leaders early this year to discuss the construction of more than 500 miles of gas pipelines across the republic. Gazprom in 2009 commissioned a line designed to provide a direct link between South Ossetia and Russian natural gas supplies.

By Daniel J. Graeber