07TBILISI656, GEORGIAN PRIME MINISTER NOGHAIDELI REPORTS ON HIS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI656 2007-03-28 12:50 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7723
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0656/01 0871250
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 281250Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5851
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000656 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC AND EEB/ISP/IEC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2017 
TAGS: ENRG PREL GG TX
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN PRIME MINISTER NOGHAIDELI REPORTS ON HIS 
TRIP TO TURKMENISTAN 
 
REF: TBILISI 632 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: Returning from a March 23 visit to Ashgabat, 
Georgian Prime Minister Noghaideli told the Ambassador on 
March 26 that he found Turkmenistan's President 
Berdimuhammedov interested in learning more about the West 
and exploring sending more oil through the South Caucasus, in 
lieu of current shipments through Iran.  Noghaideli said that 
the GOT is not ready to open up on-shore reserves to 
development by Western companies, but may allow them to work 
off-shore in the Caspian.  He advised Western companies to 
move quickly.  He sees the current period as a window of 
opportunity for the West before internal forces cause 
Berdimuhammedov to become more dictatorial. 
 
2. (C) Noghaideli was disappointed by the cancellation of a 
planned meeting with the Abkhaz de facto prime minister to 
discuss issues related to the Enguri hydroelectric power 
station.  He said that the cancellation is further evidence 
the Abkhaz can take no action without Russian approval.  He 
is concerned by upcoming Abkhaz military maneuvers near 
Kodori and by the recent murder of two policemen in South 
Ossetia.  He asked for a strong condemnation of the latter 
incident by the United States and Europe. 
 
3. (C) Noghaideli said that Georgia filed a human rights case 
in the European Court of Human Rights at this time because 
the Government of Russia was unresponsive to Georgian offers 
to discuss the treatment of Georgians in Russia and because 
court procedures presented a deadline for taking action.  End 
Summary. 
 
TURKMENISTAN VISIT SHOWS PROMISE OF NEW RELATIONSHIPS 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
4. (C)  Noghaideli said that President Berdimuhammedov wants 
more "western legitimacy" than his predecessor did.  He 
reiterated that Berdimuhammedov wants to travel to Europe and 
the United States, and that it will be good if he is invited 
soon, because later it may be hard to convince him to make 
such trips. 
 
5. (C)  The Georgians talked to the Turkmen about using the 
South Caucasus corridor for transport of oil to world 
markets.  Noghaideli said that 65% of Turkmenistan's oil now 
goes to Iran, and Georgia hopes it can capture half of that 
trade.  The reason for Iran's predominance over the South 
Caucasus route is not Iran's strength, he said, but problems 
created by Azerbaijan.  Therefore, Georgia is organizing 
trilateral Georgia-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan discussions.  More 
cooperation from Baku is needed, and the person who will have 
to be convinced is President Aliyev, he said. 
 
6. (C)  Noghaideli said that Turkmenistan's practice is to 
sell its oil in Turkmenistan, and leave transportation up to 
the buyer.  He would like to convince the Turkmen to be more 
active in the South Caucasus corridor and to sell their oil 
on the world market.  He believes Berdimuhammedov likes the 
Georgians' approach.  Noghaideli's goal is to get them to try 
the South Caucasus route, after which he believes more and 
more crude will travel that way. 
 
7. (C) On gas, Noghaideli said that Berdimuhammedov does not 
appear ready now to open up Turkmenistan's on-shore reserves 
to Western companies for development.  However, the 
government has never allowed Russian companies to work 
off-shore in the Caspian and would likely be willing to allow 
western companies to develop its reserves in the Sea.  The 
companies should look into this possibility as soon as 
possible, Noghaideli said.  The Turkmen part of the Caspian 
is not well explored but it likely holds large reserves of 
natural gas, in his opinion.  He suggests that western 
companies first focus on off-shore development, then 
construction of a pipeline to Azerbaijan, and finally seek 
opportunities on-shore.  He is even considering encouraging 
the Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) to apply for 
licenses to explore in Turkmenistan, but views Western 
companies' participation as most important. 
 
8. (C)  Noghaideli said that Turkmenistan's exclusive 
contract with Gazprom fixes prices and amounts only through 
2009.  He understands the agreement is more like a memorandum 
of understanding than a fixed contract as it applies to later 
years.  He wants to engage Turkmenistan on supplying Georgia 
with gas, hopefully at a price in the range of $100 per 
thousand cubic meters.  In return, Georgia can offer 
attractive conditions for Turkmenistan goods and oil to 
 
TBILISI 00000656  002 OF 002 
 
 
transit the South Caucasus.  Noghaideli invited 
Berdimuhammedov to come to Tbilisi in May and will continue 
discussions then. 
 
9. (C)  The Georgian delegation did not find Berdimuhammedov 
interested in discussing ideas for economic and political 
reform.  Noghaideli expects tha
t he will inevitably develop 
into a dictator of the usual Central Asian ilk, but now, 
Noghaideli says, he is a better sort.  Therefore, he believes 
now is the time to engage Berdimuhammedov before domestic 
issues force him to take a harder tack.  Although Noghaideli 
is not optimistic about democratic change in Turkmenistan, he 
said he is not entirely pessimistic either.  He said positive 
change will require a lot of patience on the part of the USG 
and other Western governments, since Central Asian 
governments can frequently change direction. 
 
ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA DISAPPOINTMENTS 
------------------------------------------ 
 
10. (C)  Noghaideli was disappointed that a planned meeting 
with Abkhaz de facto prime minister Ankvab (reftel) was 
"canceled by the Russians" -- probably at the urging of de 
facto vice president Khajimba.  The lesson he draws is that 
the Abkhaz can't act without Russian approval, even to 
organize a technical meeting with the Georgians on Enguri. 
He believes the Abkhaz and Russians were spooked by the 
prospect of Georgian media coverage and also by the GOG's 
intention to bring State Minister for Conflicts Resolution 
Merab Antadze to the meeting. 
 
11. (C)  Noghaideli was concerned by Abkhaz military 
exercises in the vicinity of the Georgian-controlled Kodori 
Gorge, which had never taken place in Spring before.  The 
Russians, he said, are bewildered by the events in Kodori and 
the appearance of an alternative government in South Ossetia 
led by Dmitriy Sanakoyev, and they don't know what to do now. 
 He said that the Georgians and their Western friends need to 
be very careful about Abkhazia right now.  While he believes 
it is unlikely the Abkhaz will attack the Upper Kodori area, 
it is a possibility.  The Abkhaz and Russians will have to 
understand that Georgia will respond to an attack, he said. 
He deems the recent murder of two Georgian policemen in South 
Ossetia an unacceptable, terrorist act.  He asked for a 
strong reaction from the US and the EU. 
 
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS CASE 
----------------------------------- 
 
12. (C)  Noghaideli said that Georgia had consulted several 
times with the Russian government on treatment of deportees 
from Russia and gotten nowhere before it filed its ECHR case. 
 After Russia's Ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, 
returned to Tbilisi on January 23, the GOG sent messages 
through him that it was ready to talk, but the only message 
it received back was to "come on your knees".  The treatment 
of Georgian citizens is a basic issue on which the GOG cannot 
compromise, he said.  The case was filed because the GOG was 
facing a deadline set by court procedures.  Tensions and 
pressure against Georgians are continuing in Russia, he said. 
 He thinks that he himself would be unable to live in that 
kind of environment. 
TEFFT

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