The implementation of the project on constructing the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline will not decrease Georgia's necessity in gas imports from Russia over the next 5 to 10 years, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze declared in a traditional radio interview on Monday reiterating that the pumping of Azerbaijani gas through the pipeline to Georgia would start in 2005.
According to the Georgian leader, in several days a ceremony starting the construction of the oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan will be held in the Georgian town of Tetri. Delegations of the USA, Azerbaijan, Turkey and sponsors of the project are to take part in it. "With the beginning of the construction of the oil pipeline Georgia will gain a new geopolitical function and lay the foundation of its state power", Shevardnadze declared. He also noted that Georgian state awards would be given to representatives of the USA, Azerbaijan, Turkey and sponsors of the project for their contribution to the implementation of the project.
The Georgian President also noted that at the preliminary stage of this project Georgian ports had received $4m and railways had been paid $2m for cargo services, while $400,000 had been transferred to local budgets. Moreover, residents of 10 Georgian districts where the oil pipeline is to be laid have received compensations.