The ceremony of the official beginning of the construction of the oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan in Georgia will take place in the Georgian town of Tetri on May 23, a source in the Georgian international oil corporation told RBC. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, representatives of Azerbaijan, Turkey and sponsors of the project, BP in particular, will take part in the ceremony. It is expected that Georgian state awards will be given to persons that made a considerable contribution to the implementation of this project. According to Shevardnadze, simultaneously the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline will be laid. Shevardnadze believes that gas supplies from Azerbaijan to Georgia will start in 2005.
At the same time the Georgian leader admitted that the republic would need Russian gas imports over the next 5 to 10 years. With the implementation of the project on constructing the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline Georgia "will gain an absolutely new geopolitical function and strengthen its independence", he stressed.