Tbilisi Hosts South Caucasus High-level Policy Talks

Today Tbilisi hosted the South Caucasus High-level Policy Talks organized by EU4Energy, the Energy Community, the Government of Georgia, USAID, and G4G. The summit highlighted the benefits of upgraded regional energy cooperation in the South Caucasus region. It was attended by over 50 regional sectoral stakeholders, including financial institutions, government officials, gas and electricity transmission system operators, and those involved in international trade.

Ministers and senior officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, as well as representatives of international organizations and donors attended to discuss regional energy projects, thus enhancing energy security and supporting the sustainability of gas and electricity supply in the region. Panelists included Dimitry Kumsishvili, the First Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Natig Abbasov, Deputy Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan, Mathieu Bousqet from NEAR, Janez Kopac, Director of the Energy Community Secretariat, and US Embassy Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Jeffrey Reneau.

The conference opened with remarks from Mr. Kumsishvili. He summarized energy-related challenges and opportunities for regional cooperation, saying “small national markets, where demand and generation capacities are not adjusted and seasonal misbalance is prevalent, are faced with severe risks and suffering from energy insecurity. Against this background, regional cooperation embracing the both technical and regulatory dimensions is of paramount importance in the South Caucasus and its neighborhood to ensure security of supply.” Kumsishvili called the summit “efficient and results-oriented” due to the high level participants, and asserted his confidence that “we will find compromise and common language when the benefits are so vivid.”

Kumsishvili called defining the electricity market design Georgia’s “most urgent task,” and said that by 2025 Georgia will have a fully competitive electricity market. Several draft laws on energy are expected to be adopted this year. Active work is being completed on domestic and cross-border energy infrastructure. Kumsishvili also repeated a favorite line of those promoting Georgia’s interests – a country “at the crossroads between” emerging European and Eurasian energy markets.

Janez Kopac praised Georgia’s development, saying “the reform process which is currently in Georgia is amazing.” Kopac also said that today’s event “clearly showed opportunities of a better connectivity in a cross-border energy cooperation in the region.”  

The EU4Energy Initiative supports projects to improve energy supply, security, and connectivity, as well as promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: USAID

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