Nuclear Georgia

Nuclear Georgia

Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively to VK

The head of the Green Party of Georgia, Georgy Gachechiladze, recently stated on the talk-show of the TV company Kavkasia that he and his supporters had saved the country from “a nuclear disaster” several years ago. According to him, “President Saakashvili conducted negotiations with one of the nuclear powers on construction of a nuclear power station. The treaty was prepared for signing, but our protests forced the President to reject the harmful plans.”

Gachechiladze’s statement was not a sensation. The “Greens” is one of the oldest parties in Georgia. Politicians such as the late prime minister Zurab Zhvania, another prime minister Zurab Nogaideli and the current minister for European and Atlantic integration, Georgy Baramidze, came from it.

Speaking on Kavkasia, Gachechiladze meant not the political, but the environmental aspect of the problem. The “Greens” stand against construction of nuclear power stations anywhere in the world and for closing existing nuclear-power stations. As the developments at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power station have shown, their warnings are grounded.

However, politicians and the expert community, unlike the Georgian Greens, are interested not in the environmental, but the political or geostrategic aspect of the problem. In 2006 President Saakashvili visited France and conducted negotiations with the administration of the French company AREVA on construction of a nuclear-power station in Georgia. The topic was intensively promoted by the Georgian mass media. But we should understand that Mikhail Saakashvili was simply following his strategy and had no intentions of signing a real contract – Georgia is not a wealthy country, while nuclear power costs too much.

Of course, the French shrugged their shoulders and said: “You pay, and we will construct anything you want without any problem.” But in posing the question of a nuclear power station, Saakashvili thought about prestige – he didn’t want to construct the station in reality. Negotiations with AREVA and the French government on construction of a nuclear-power station are an important factor in the international mass media, because a state which initiates such negotiations is considered to be a serious and self-confident player in the international arena. Therefore, the negotiations on construction of a nuclear power station appeared to be a PR-step for promotion of a new Georgian image in the world. Everybody noted the talks, but the fact that they have no results is remembered only by experts.

On the other hand, discussion of the development of Georgian nuclear energy began in the 1970s. Not only constant competition with neighboring Armenia influenced the situation, but the energy dependence of the republic. Later, in the early 1990s when the energy crisis burst out, Shevardnadze complained that the Georgian humanitarian intelligentsia didn’t allow him to build such a station in the east of the country.