Analysis: Iran-Georgia energy deal involving Armenia may alter regional security system

Tehran and Tbilisi are negotiating around the supply of 200 million cubic meters of Iranian gas to Georgia via Armenia. This has been declared by General Director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) Alireza Kameli. Georgian Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze was in Iran and is in talks on gas supply. Before leaving Tehran, he said that if the Iranian side will offer favorable terms, Tbilisi would consider them. Moreover, there are two ways of the Iranian gas delivery to Georgia - via Armenia and Azerbaijan.

As Azerbaijani newspapers write, Georgia and Iran, apparently, have chosen Armenia. The Iranian official said that "Georgia will still have to get permission of Armenia for gas transit through the territory of the neighboring country".

"If the economic feasibility of the transaction is confirmed, in the future we can talk about mid- and long-term contracts on gas supplies to Georgia," Kameli concluded.

Armenia has not yet reacted to this statement. Meanwhile, in his speech on February 12, President Serzh Sargsyan stated that relations with neighboring Iran and Georgia will continue to be friendly and mutually beneficial.

Competition for the Caucasian market is entering an important phase. Experts say that if Iran and Georgia agree, then not only the energy supply scheme will change in the region, but also the security system as a whole. In this system, Armenia is still isolated, but if Iranian gas goes to Georgia via Armenia, then Armenia will not be able to stay out of the regional security system.

On February 17, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will pay an official visit to Georgia where he will meet with his Georgian and Azerbaijani counterparts. The Turkish Foreign Ministry says that trilateral meetings "promote the establishment of a common perception in all areas of common interests, as well as the strengthening of regional stability and security."

However, Georgia has not yet made a final choice. During a public discussion of the energy policy of Georgia, which was held at the Tbilisi office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation on February 10, Georgia's Deputy Energy Minister Mariam Valishvili stated that at this stage the purchase of Iranian gas is not commercially reasonable for Georgia, as it is almost 25 percent more expensive. "We expect to be in the foreground in the conversation with Iran, because it is interested in the region, and we are interested in this resource in the region. In this case there is a convergence of interests. I really don't know how these relations will develop," she said.

Source: Armenia

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