Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and other officials today dismissed the demands of Namakhvani HPP protesters as “an ultimatum,” and maintained their position – that dialogue is necessary to better inform the activists on their concerns about the controversial project.
The activists have said that resources for dialogue with the government are exhausted, arguing the authorities do not consider making significant concessions. Protesters plan “paralyzing” the capital with traffic blockages if their demands are not met.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said talking ultimatums is “a relic of the 90s … when under the veil of pseudo-patriotism, every activist used to presented themselves as very good experts in energy, agriculture, transportation, railway.”
The Georgian PM argued the authorities have made numerous attempts at holding dialogue with the protesters, and are ready to continue the efforts. But he warned the protesters against “going beyond the law,” alluding to the planned traffic disruptions.
Echoing the PM’s statement, Economy Minister Natia Turnava called on the activists to engage in dialogue. “Radicalization is not the right way to clear all, including technical, details concerning the [Namakhvani] project,” she said.
“Various calls to block, paralyze [the city] are particularly unacceptable,” the Minister added.
“The language of ultimatums … has never been productive,” stated on his part Levan Davitashvili, Environmental Protection Minister. He maintained the GD’s position that dialogue and communication efforts are necessary to inform the activists on issues of concern.
Parliament Speaker Kakha Kuchava was so far the only official to respond with specific steps related to the protester’s demands. He said lawmakers have agreed to begin working on an energy policy that will enable Georgia to pursue energy independence without “excessive environmental impact.”
He called for all stakeholder’s participation in the working process. Protest leader Varlam Goletiani announced later that Speaker Kuchava has invited the activists for a meeting, which they have agreed to and is expected to take place today.
During a massive rally in Tbilisi yesterday, the protesters reiterated earlier demands of terminating the government’s contract with Namakhvani HPP investor and the Enka Renewables company to leave the Rioni valley. They also called for launching criminal investigations against officials involved in drafting and signing the document, including Economy Minister Natia Turnava, and imposing a moratorium on similar projects until a coordinated energy policy is developed.
Follow our Namakhvani tag for earlier developments about the controversial project.