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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI711 2007-04-02 10:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0711/01 0921021
R 021021Z APR 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000711 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/29/2017 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d). 
1.  (C) Summary: In a March 29 meeting with Georgian Prime 
Minister Zurab Noghaideli, EUR DAS Matt Bryza discussed the 
recent attack on Georgian government buildings in Kodori and 
rising tensions in the Gali region, and their relationship to 
the debate over the next UNOMIG mandate renewal in the United 
Nations Security Council.  Noghaideli expressed hope that 
Georgian restraint in these areas would earn Georgia more 
consideration in the UNOMIG debate.  Noghaideli tracked Bryza 
down after the meeting to agree to meet with Abkhaz de-facto 
prime minister Ankvab.  Noghaideli reported to Bryza on his 
recent trip to Turkmenistan.  He said that Western companies 
have an opportunity to develop Turkmenistan's off-shore 
natural gas reserves, but they must act quickly.  Developing 
off-shore reserves may lead to more opportunities on-shore in 
the future and to exports to Azerbaijan and into the Southern 
Corridor.  He believes Turkmenistan's new president, 
Berdimuhammedov, is likely to become more authoritarian over 
time.  He urged the U.S. and EU countries to invite 
Berdimuhammedov to visit their capitals, while he is still 
open to new ideas.  He complained that Azerbaijan's monopoly 
on transport through the Caucasus is becoming an obstacle to 
attracting transport of oil and gas through the Caucasus from 
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.  An April 4 trilateral meeting 
with Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan will address this 
problem.  Noghaideli said that Armenia's close relationship 
with Russia is costing it economically and politically.  End 
2.  (C) DAS Bryza assured Noghaideli that the United States 
will take a firm line with Russia in the debate on renewal of 
the UNOMIG mandate in the United Nations Security Council 
(UNSC).  The Russians will not be allowed to insert language 
questioning Georgia's right to be in the Kodori Gorge or the 
right of IDP's to return to the whole of Abkhazia, not only 
Gali, he said.  The resolution calls for cooperation between 
UNOMIG and CIS peacekeepers and for more confidence building 
measures as agreed by the Group of Friends.  While the USG 
will push back hard in response to Russian pressure, Bryza 
warned that if the U.S. stance is perceived as too 
anti-Russian, it will undercut U.S. credibility among the 
Friends and make it more difficult to get a good resolution 
in the UN. 
3. (C) Noghaideli expressed resentment at the Russians' 
ability to shell Georgian buildings in Kodori and then use 
the attack to portray Georgia as unstable in the leadup to 
the renewal of the UNOMIG mandate in Abkhazia.  Georgia's 
restraint is being used against it, he said.  Bryza said that 
although the USG is convinced that Russia was involved in the 
March 11 Kodori attack, it is unlikely the UN report will 
clearly acknowledge their involvement.  Georgia's response to 
the provocation was exactly what was required, and much 
better than its highly public arrest of the GRU agents in 
October 2006.  Noghaideli said that Georgia feels it is 
getting very little from its show of restraint after Kodori. 
If, for example, the resolution condemns the move of the 
Abkhaz government-in-exile to Kodori, it will force Georgia 
to reconsider its behavior. 
4. (C) Bryza told Noghaideli that in a recent meeting with 
Russian Foreign Minister Karasin, Under Secretary Burns 
directly criticized Russia's more aggressive attitude toward 
Georgia, and defended Georgia's right to be in Kodori and its 
responsibility to provide security for its residents.  The 
USG is pushing the UNSC to "condemn", rather than "express 
concern" about the March 11 attack.  Karasin did not dispute 
Georgia's right to administer to its citizens in the Upper 
Kodori, though he did call for Georgia to "rationalize" its 
police presence there.  Noghaideli speculated that Karasin 
was unaware of the Kodori attack, but that the highest levels 
of the Russian government had approved it nevertheless. 
Bryza observed that Karasin's claim that the Georgians 
brought the attack on themselves was unacceptable. 
5. (C) Bryza said the USG is worried by recent violent 
incidents in Gali, including the arrest on drug charges of 
Abkhaz police official Chakabaria by Georgian law 
enforcement.  Noghaideli was reluctant to consider the 
release of Chakabaria by Georgia as a confidence building 
TBILISI 00000711  002 OF 003 
measure.  He described him as a "fascist" and "war criminal". 
 His release, Noghaideli said, would send a message of 
impunity, and his exchange for prisoners held by the Abkhaz 
would only encourage future hostage taking by the
 Abkhaz.  He 
fears the release of Chakabaria will only increase tensions 
in the long run and damage the security of the people in 
Gali.  The GOG will look for ways to decrease tensions, but 
it cannot enter into a prisoner exchange, he said. 
6. (C) Noghaideli said that although his meeting with Abkhaz 
de facto prime minister Ankvab was canceled, the Abkhaz are 
now seeking to reschedule it.  However, they are seeking 
Noghaideli's presence at what is essentially a technical 
meeting, and after Ankvab's first refusal to meet, he is not 
inclined to attend.  The meeting will go forward without his 
participation, however.  (Note: at the meeting an agreement 
on dividing the output of the Enguri power plant will be 
signed.  The agreement included a GOG commitment to finance 
individual electric meters to consumers on the whole 
territory of Abkhazia.)  Bryza suggested that the agreement 
on the Enguri power plant output would be helpful before the 
UNOMIG mandate renewal vote, because it would emphasize 
Georgia's willingness to cooperate with the Abkhaz.  Bryza 
urged Noghaideli to meet with Ankvab.  Noghaideli resisted, 
but he later called Bryza to say he had reconsidered and is 
now willing to meet with Ankvab. 
7. (C) Bryza praised Georgia and Azerbaijan for cooperating 
on meeting their energy needs this year, and especially 
Azerbaijan's willingness to do without Russian gas and to 
stop shipping oil through Novorossisk in response to Russian 
demands that Azerbaijan not supply Georgia.  Noghaideli said 
that Aliyev's decision was mostly a reaction to Russia 
offering better terms for its gas to Armenia than to 
Azerbaijan.  He complained that Azerbaijan is creating 
significant problems for transport of oil through the South 
Caucasus.  He will meet with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan 
leaders in Baku on April 4 to discuss the issue. 
8. (C) Drawing on his recent trip to Ashgabat, Noghaideli 
told DAS Bryza that President Berdimuhammedov wants western 
legitimacy.  Trips to Europe and America would give him that 
and would expose him to the West.  Such trips should happen 
soon, Noghaideli said.  He said that Berdimuhammedov can 
become a leader either in the style of Kazakhstan's 
Nazarbayev or, less appealingly, Uzbekistan's Karimov -- 
though he will never be a Saakashvili.  Although human rights 
advocates may object, Noghaideli said, now is the time to 
deal with Berdimuhammedov if the West is to have any 
influence as he grows into his new position. 
9. (C) Noghaideli said that Turkmenistan has always sought a 
balance between Russia and Iran, and now will want to do so 
between Russia and the West.  He said that Turkmenistan 
currently sells its oil on an exchange within the country at 
a low price, but forces it to be taken out via Iran and to 
Afghanistan.  Noghaideli thinks that if Berdimuhammedov 
allows the free sale of oil outside the country, 90 percent 
of it would go west through the Caucasus -- but for the 
problems the Azeris are creating in transportation. 
Noghaideli said that Berdimuhammedov will likely be willing 
to license western companies to develop Turkmenistan's 
off-shore reserves of natural gas.  He confirmed that the 
Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation will seek such a license. 
Oil and gas from fields developed by Western companies will 
only flow west, he believes.  Bryza said that Noghaideli's 
view confirms what the USG is hearing from Turkmenistan.  He 
mentioned the U.S. hope to export Turkmen gas from Block One, 
operated by Petronas, to Baku's ACG field. 
10. (C) Bryza mentioned that Kazakhstani Prime Minister 
Massimov has expressed interest in shipping compressed 
natural gas across the Caspian.  Noghaideli again complained 
that Azerbaijan has "destroyed a good transport relationship" 
over the past year.  The Georgian-proposed 
Georgia-Azerbaijan-Kazakhstan trilateral in Baku on April 4 
is important in that regard, he said. (Note: Massimov is 
scheduled to visit Tbilisi as well as Baku.) 
11. (C) Noghaideli said that he has given up on getting 
Turkey to share its Shah Deniz gas with Georgia.  Turkey will 
not be ready to receive gas until September, he said. 
Georgia is now discussing getting more gas from the Azeris, 
who he says have enough to cover Georgia's needs.  President 
TBILISI 00000711  003 OF 003 
Saakashvili is calling Azeri President Aliyev to discuss. 
Because of the delays in production of Shah Deniz gas earlier 
this year, Georgia did not get as much gas as it had hoped 
from Azerbaijan, only 20% of its imports, according to 
Noghaideli.  Russian gas will be about 50% of supply this 
year, he said.  The warm winter and good management have 
allowed Georgia to reduce its gas consumption this year, 
12. (C) Bryza and Noghaideli briefly discussed the situation 
in Armenia.  When he was in Armenia for the late Prime 
Minister Andranik Markarian's funeral, Noghaideli was 
surprised to learn that Armenia's government budget is only 
USD 1.1 billion, compared to Georgia's USD 2.7 million. 
Armenia's decision to rely on Russian support has hurt it 
economically and cost it nearly all its friends, other than 
Georgia, he said.  The Government of Armenia is maintaining 
its NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan as a lifeline to 
the West, he said. 
13.  DAS Bryza has cleared this telegram. 


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