07TBILISI1992, SOUTH OSSETIA DONORS STEERING COMMITTEE ADDRESSES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1992 2007-08-09 12:48 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5962
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1992/01 2211248
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 091248Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7254
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001992 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/06/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID OSCE GG
SUBJECT: SOUTH OSSETIA DONORS STEERING COMMITTEE ADDRESSES 
WATER PROJECTS 
 
REF: TBILISI 1619 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Mark X. Perry for reasons 1.4(b 
&d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
1. (SBU) In a meeting August 2, the Steering Committee for 
the OSCE-led economic rehabilitation projects in South 
Ossetia conditionally approved three water-related projects 
for contracting, although the Georgian and South Ossetian 
sides made final approval contingent on resolving some 
remaining technical and legal questions about the projects. 
Contracts have not yet been finalized for three school 
rehabilitation projects approved in early July (reftel) 
because of contractual wrangling with the winning bidders. 
International donors stressed the need for urgency in 
implementing the projects and for sharing as much information 
as possible with the Steering Committee and the sides.  End 
Summary. 
 
Water, Water Everywhere 
----------------------- 
2. (C) Prior to the meeting we had heard several reports, 
including from officials at OSCE, that Tskhinvali was once 
again without drinking water and that a new round of 
water-related reprisals was looming.  When we reached 
Tskhinvali for the meeting, however, OSCE's Tskhinvali-based 
 
SIPDIS 
Project Coordinator Ryan Grist privately assured us that was 
not the case.  He said that the city had water -- indeed, it 
had always had at least some water even at the height of the 
crisis earlier in the summer -- and that the dispute seemed 
to be on the road to resolution.  While this lowering of 
tensions may have helped set a positive tone for the Steering 
Committee meeting, a separate meeting (immediately before our 
meeting) on the older EC-funded South Ossetia program may 
have had the opposite effect; several participants arrived 
from the first meeting unhappy that EC money for an 
electricity project had expired because it was not acted on 
in time.  Separately, the German DCM told us that he was 
concerned that a German specialist, in Georgia to work on 
engineering projects as part of the donors' program, had been 
waiting for two and a half months for the de facto 
authorities to permit her to enter South Ossetia.  After 
consulting with Grist, the German DCM decided not to raise 
the issue -- which apparently originated when the de facto 
authorities said the specialist's name had been omitted from 
an entry list early in her stay -- in the Steering Committee. 
 
3. (SBU) Once the meeting convened, OSCE reviewed three water 
projects, the Avnevi-Nuli-Kimasi water pipelines, the 
Tskhinvali reservoir project, and the 
 
SIPDIS 
Ksuisi-Gugutiantkari-Divesi pipeline.  In each case OSCE had 
received a number of bids and made a recommendation for a 
contract.  While no one voiced objections to the projects or 
the recommended firms, each side raised other concerns. 
South Ossetian representative Leonid Tibilov sought 
assurances that provision of water to the village of High 
Avnevi was included in the Avnevi plans.  While OSCE 
officials said they believed that it was, they promised to 
confirm.  When a company from Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia, in 
Russia) was the recommended winner of the tender for the 
Tskhinvali project, Georgian representatives asked whether 
 
SIPDIS 
the tender was defined legally as an "international tender," 
something they believed would have required a special process 
with the Georgian government.  The sides agreed to review 
these two questions in coming days with OSCE at the working 
level, after which they thought it would be possible to give 
the projects final approval.  Tibilov requested that the 
three projects be approved only as a group. 
 
4. (SBU) OSCE also reviewed the status of a fourth water 
project, the construction of a water purification system in 
Kekhvi.  Grist explained that OSCE had learned about the 
availability of other sources of water near Kekhvi, and it 
was still reviewing options to see if another approach would 
make more sense to address water needs in the area.  The 
Georgians stressed that they considered the Kekhvi project 
one of the top priorities, along with the Tskhinvali 
reservoirs and the Edissi-Tskhinvali pipeline, and urged that 
work be started as soon as possible.  (Note: The Georgians 
have privately expressed surprise that OSCE has taken a 
slower approach to Kekhvi than to other water projects on the 
approved list of projects.  It is true that the Kekhvi 
project would benefit only Georgian areas, but at the same 
time the Tskhinvali reservoir project benefits only 
separatist areas.  End Note.) 
 
But No School Construction Yet 
------------------------------ 
 
TBILISI 00001992  002 OF 002 
 
 
5. (SBU) Asked by the donors about the three school projects 
approved by the Steering Committee July 2, OSCE officials 
said the contracts had not yet been signed.  They said one of 
the winning bidders was asking for a higher price, and the 
two others had not yet signed their contracts either
.  The 
OSCE officials said they were trying hard not to agree to a 
modified price, because the precedent would likely lead other 
companies to request the same.  The donors agreed, but 
expressed frustration with the continuing delays, especially 
with the end of the building season approaching in 
mountainous areas. 
 
Comment 
------- 
6. (C) Much of this meeting, like previous ones, was devoted 
to the sides and the donors asking for more detailed 
information about the projects, and OSCE promising to provide 
it.  Grist expressed hope that communication with the sides 
would improve once each side's liaison officers started work 
within the OSCE team; he said each side had submitted a name 
and these were now going through the OSCE personnel process. 
We hope this is the case; better communication would help 
reduce delays in project implementation and also permit some 
of these technical issues to be resolved before they come 
before the Steering Committee.  The donors' program as a 
whole has moved frustratingly slowly, but we nevertheless 
agree with the assessment of Georgian Deputy State Minister 
for Conflict Resolution Ruslan Abashidze, who recently 
reiterated to us his belief that the South Ossetia donors' 
program is the most transparent and constructive of the major 
international assistance programs in the separatist regions. 
 
PERRY

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