Economy Minister Natia Turnava at today’s government briefing did not specify whether police forces would leave the Rioni Gorge by Friday this week, and said that the activists needed to make a public promise not to obstruct the construction of the HPP by Enka Renewables.
Turnava noted that a meeting held on Saturday, June 12, attended by activists from the Rioni Valley, the Ministries of Economy and Environment and EU officials [as mediators], “made it clear that the only task of the police presence in the gorge was to avoid conflict.”
“Therefore, as soon as we have a public promise from the activists that they will continue their protest peacefully, will not interfere with the company’s activities, will not put pressure on the employees there, will not damage the company’s assets (because there is a warehouse containing a lot of materials, including flammable ones), then, of course, this issue will be resolved instantly. But it should be said and promised publicly,” she said.
After the June 12 meeting, Dirk Buschle, head of the EU Energy Union Dispute Resolution and Negotiation Center, said the parties had discussed several issues, including the withdrawal of police from the valley this week and the removal of barricades.
Varlam Goletiani, one of the protest leaders, also commented to the media after the meeting.
He noted that the meeting does not mean the start of the mediation process and this process will start only after the parties fulfill their agreement.
In particular, he said that by Friday the relevant agencies should remove the barricades erected in the Rioni Gorge and withdraw the police forces. He added that the meetings will continue only if the demands of the protesters are met by Friday. After that, it will be possible to discuss other issues, which include the suspension of works by ‘Enka’ in the gorge.
Davit Tvalabeishvili, the Deputy Minister of Economy, said that withdrawing the police from the gorge was not within the competence of the Ministry and that they would raise the issue with the relevant agencies.