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CENN Weekly Digest - May 31, 2006

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  • CENN Weekly Digest - May 31, 2006

    May 31, 2006 05:02:04 PM |

    News From Georgia < ia> >>

    Power games in the Caucasus

    Source: BBc News: By Kieran Cooke, 2006-05-07

    In Dgvari village, Georgia

    Roman Gogoladze, a farmer living in the village of Dgvari, high up in
    the mountains of Georgia in the Caucasus, points at the foot wide
    cracks in the walls of his house.

    The whole structure looks as though it will soon collapse and slide
    down the valley.

    "Big powers - the oil companies and the government - are destroying
    our homes and our land," he says.

    "They are playing their money games and ignore people like us."

    The anger of Mr Gogoladze and other villagers in Dgvari is mainly
    directed at BP, the energy giant leading a consortium which recently
    completed the world's longest pipeline project, stretching 1,767kms
    from Baku in Azerbaijan via Tbilisi in Georgia to the port of Ceyhan
    on Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

    The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline and an associated South
    Caucasus gas supply line are sunk into the mountainside less than one
    kilometer above Dgvari.

    Villagers say pipeline excavations have seriously destabilised
    surrounding lands and allege that promised amounts of compensation
    have not been paid.

    BP insists work on the BTC is not to blame for Dgvari's landslide

    It says it has offered $1m (550,000) of humanitarian aid to the
    government to help resettle the villagers elsewhere.

    Foreign investment

    Georgia, one of the richest republics in the old USSR, went into sharp
    economic decline following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the
    country's independence in the early 1990s.

    As Russia's economy went into free-fall, Georgia lost its key export
    market, particularly for its food produce and wine.

    More than a million of the country's 5m people were forced to emigrate
    in search of jobs.

    Though there have been limited signs of economic improvement recently,
    the country - with much of its infrastructure in a state of near
    collapse, most of its industry at a standstill and estimates of
    unemployment varying between 30% and 50% - is in desperate need of

    The Georgian government says the BTC project will play a central role
    in rejuvenating the country's economy.

    According to government statistics, more than 60% of total foreign
    investment over the past two years has been associated with the

    "I have no illusions that this pipeline will solve all our problems,
    but this is a start," says Georgia's president, Mikhail Saakashvili.

    Seismic zone

    However, many farmers along the route of the BTC, plus local
    environmental groups, have voiced strong opposition.

    The oil and gas pipelines go near the source of the country's famed
    Borjumi spring water, a principal export.

    Georgia is in a seismic zone: the BTC's critics say any earthquake
    activity could cause massive environmental and economic damage.

    The $3.6bn BTC project, strongly backed by the US and British
    governments, plays a key role in an increasingly frenzied battle for
    control of vital energy sources in the Caspian region and Central
    Asia, with Washington and London viewing the presence of the pipeline
    as a vital counterbalance to Russia's growing control over the area's
    energy supplies.

    The Georgian government not only hopes to gain much needed funds from
    charging for the transit of oil and gas through its territory.

    With much of its own energy sources, including a network of hydro
    stations, in a state of severe disrepair, the country is heavily
    dependent on imports, particularly of gas, supplied by Russia.

    Moscow, which has military bases in Georgia, has watched with concern
    as its former republic has turned to the West: US military advisors
    are training the Georgian army - President Bush visited Tbilisi last
    year, describing the country as "a beacon of freedom."

    At the beginning of this year Russia doubled the price of gas it
    supplies to Georgia.

    In late January, in the middle of one of the coldest winters on
    record, an as yet unexplained explosion severed the pipeline carrying
    Russian gas to Georgia, leaving a large part of the country without
    power for a week.

    President Saakashvili was quick to point the finger at Moscow,
    alleging his country was the victim of "outrageous blackmail."

    Power and influence

    Georgia is seeking to diversify energy supplies, though a gas import
    agreement with Iran met with Washington's disapproval and was quickly

    The government is now negotiating terms for a gas supply from the BTC
    associated South Caucasus Pipeline project.

    Yet while the government says it's trying to escape from Moscow's
    shadow, there are indications powerful political factions are pressing
    for the sell-off of the country's power sector to Russian interests.

    "Strange games are going on here," says Mrs Salome Zourabichvili, the
    country's former foreign minister, sacked by Mr Saakashvili last year.

    "There's a lot of infighting in government with a pro-Moscow faction
    seeming to get the upper hand.

    "What is white is black and vice versa. As everywhere else in the
    territories of the old Soviet Union, Russia is using its power as an
    energy producer to further its influence."

    Empty promises

    The complexities of local politics, big power rivalries and the energy
    business mean little to Roman Gogoladze and his fellow farmers in the
    village of Dgvari.

    The government says there's a growing danger of landslides and has
    told the village's 500 inhabitants they must leave.

    "The Russians, BP, the government - they're all the same," says Mr

    "All sorts of promises are made but nothing ever happens.

    "When we protested against the pipelines, the police came and beat
    people up. Not one person in the village was given work on the
    project. Indians and Columbians were brought in instead and we were
    left with nothing - but we are never going to leave our lands."


    News From < aijan>
    Azerbaijan >>


    Source: Azetag, 2006-05-16

    On May 16, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received at the
    Presidential Palace the delegation of Ukraine led by the country's
    Minister of Fuel and Energy Ivan Plachkov.

    The Head of State described current relations between Azerbaijan and
    Ukraine as steadily developing. The President pointed out he had
    recently discussed different aspects of bilateral cooperation with his
    Ukrainian counterpart, adding they will meet during the forthcoming
    summit of GUAM member states in Kiev.

    Ivan Plachkov conveyed to the Azerbaijani leader greetings and letter
    from President Viktor Yuschenko. In the letter, the Ukrainian leader
    expressed readiness to promote further development of his country's
    all-round cooperation with Azerbaijan. Describing the
    Azerbaijan-Ukraine relations as strategic, Viktor Yuschenko noted he
    is looking forward to meeting with the Azerbaijani President during
    the coming GUAM summit in Kiev.

    President Ilham Aliyev expressed his gratitude for the greetings from
    Viktor Yuschenko, and asked Mr. Plachkov to convey his own ones to the
    Ukrainian leader.


    News From Armenia < ia>


    Source: Noyan Tapan, 2006-05-15

    A considerable reconstruction work is necessary in order to put in
    operation again the fountrains of Yerevan's Northern Avenue currently
    under construction, because the infrastructures supplying these
    fountains are too old. Chief Architect of Yerevan Samvel Danielian
    told NT correspondent about it. According to him, the Urban
    Development Council of Yerevan is now examining a version of
    constructing Northern Avenue, by which the upper level of the avenue
    is viewed as a green area, while fountains will be installed below -
    at the "minus 1" level. Besides, a version to build an underground car
    parking space at the "minus 2" level all along Northern Avenue is
    being discussed. The car parking lots will not be built only at the
    area limited by Eznik Koghbatsi and Abovian Streets, where it is
    envisaged to construct the Old Yerevan historical and architectural
    complex of 14 buildings.


    International < mational>
    News >>

    Kazakhstan mulls Baku- Erzurum gas pipeline link

    Source: New Europe, 2006-05-15

    Kazakhstan is thinking about linking up with the Baku-Erzurum gas
    pipeline, Danial Akhmetov, Kazakhstan's prime minister, said at a
    briefing in Baku. `Kazakhstan is thinking of linking up to this new
    gas pipeline, which will create not only new alternatives for our
    country but new and I'd say more interesting economic opportunities,
    because Greece lies directly beyond Erzurum, and then Italy. This
    would give Kazakhstan access to the European markets,' Interfax quoted
    Akhmetov as saying.

    The Baku-Erzurum pipeline, capacity 30 billion cubic metres of gas
    annually, will be built in September this year, Akhmetov said. The
    pipeline will carry gas produced at Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field to

    Akhmetov also said that he discussed Kazakhstan's participation in the
    Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline construction with Iranian President Mahmoud
    Ahmadinejad in Baku on Friday before last.

    `The meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was devoted
    primarily to the issue that the (Kazakh) President (Nursultan
    Nazarbayev) asked (me to discuss), namely integration in the sphere of
    energy resources, new opportunities and Iran's attitude to
    Kazakhstan's participation in, say, the construction of the
    Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline,' Akhmetov said.

    The Shah Deniz project participants are BP - 25.5 percent (technical
    operator), Statoil - 25.5 percent (commercial operator), Azeri state
    oil company SOCAR - 10 percent, Luk-Agip - 10 percent, Total - 10
    percent, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) - 10 percent and TPAO -
    nine percent. The Trans-Caspian pipeline would be built along the
    Tengiz (Kazakhstan) - Turkmenbashi (Turkmenistan) - Baku (Azerbaijan)
    - Tbilisi (Georgia) - Erzurum (Turkey) route.

    Kazakhstan also expects to sign an agreement to use the
    Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline to transport its own oil in the
    second half of June, Akhmetov said. `The agreement between Azerbaijan
    and Kazakhstan on the BTC pipeline will in principle be closed in
    May. I think that in the second half of June we will do everything
    possible for the heads of state to sign it,' Akhmetov said.

    Azeri state oil company SOCAR and Kazakhstan's national oil and gas
    company KazMunaiGaz began talks on Kazakhstan using the BTC pipeline
    in November 2002. Tankers will ship the Kazakh oil from Aktau to
    Baku. Initially, the BTC will carry 7.5 million tonnes of Kazakh oil
    per year, rising to 20 million tonnes per year in time. The
    1,767-kilometre BTC pipeline is capable of carrying 50 million tonnes
    of oil per year. The BTC project participants are BP (30.1 percent),
    SOCAR (25 percent), Unocal (8.9 percent), Statoil (8.71 percent), TPAO
    (6.53 percent), ENI (five percent), Itochu (3.4 percent),
    ConocoPhillips (2.5 percent), INPEX (2.5 percent), Total (5 percent)
    and Amerada Hess (2.36 percent).


    International < rence>
    Seminar / Conference / Meeting >>

    International Conference 2006: "Reviewing the past for reshaping the

    (Addressing root causes of Conflicts & Environmental Hazards)

    This International Conference is organized by "Eastern University of
    Sri Lanka" as a part of Silver Jubilee celebration on the theme
    "Reviewing the Past for Reshaping the Future".

    Over the past few decades Sri Lanka had faced numerous natural hazards
    and a major ethnic conflict which led to the loss of lives and
    destruction of properties and the natural environment of the
    country. The conference aims to examine various aspects of the issues
    in order to initiate dialogue that can lead to formulate strategies
    and mechanisms for a secure future.

    Official Website of the International Conference 2006:

    Re ference:

    Conference Brochure

    Researchers are invited to submit papers relating to one or more of the
    following areas; (1) Political Economy of Development, (2) Environmental
    Issues, (3) Revisiting Tsunami, (4) Conflict, (5) Good Governance, (6)
    Traditions and Cultural Diversity, (7) Public Health, (8) Education, (9)
    Gender Concerns.

    Important Dates of the Conference,

    Submission of Abstracts - 07th July 2006

    Revision of Abstracts - 31st July 2006

    Submission of Full papers - 20th September 2006

    Final Submission of Full papers - 20th October 2006

    Date of Conference - 11th and 12th December 2006

    Inauguration of the International Conference will be on the 10th
    2006 and the Conference will be held at the Eastern University, Sri
    Lanka on
    the 11th and 12th December 2006.

    Read more -> (.PDF File
    4 MB)

    Interested personnel can register now.

    Postal Address:

    Conference Secretariat,

    International Conference -2006,

    Eastern University of Sri Lanka,


    Chenkalady 30350,

    Sri Lanka.

    Contact Persons: Dr. M. Printhan and Ms. V.R. Ragel

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Phone: +94-65-2241205, 2240757

    +94-65-2240490 Ext-404

    Fax: +94-65-2241205, 2240758

    Registration Fee,

    Participants from SAARC countries, U.S. $ 50 accompanying U.S. $ 25

    (SAARC countries are India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal,
    Bhutan, Sri Lanka and The Maldives)

    Other Foreign Participants, U.S. $ 100 accompanying U.S. $ 50

    Local Participants, Rs. 1000

    Local Students, Rs. 250

    Payments to be made by a bank draft to the Account Number 1-67-000503-3
    the Peoples Bank-Chenkalady Branch, Sri Lanka.


    < gt; Job / Internship /
    Opportunity >>

    EarthCorps - Training Programme

    EarthCorps has five open positions for the Greenway training program
    scheduled for February 2007. Please find the EarthCorps international
    position < ion.doc>
    description, Candidate
    < %20Nomination%20form.doc>
    form and also information on what to
    < ct%20-%20ECG.doc> expect.

    Candidate Nomination Deadline: 1 July 2006.

    For more information, please visit website: nal.php

    International Corpsmember: Environmental Conservation and Restoration

    EarthCorps: Greenway International Program

    Location: Seattle, Washington (USA)

    For more information, please contact Mark Howard, International

    [email protected]

    Mark Howard


    International Coordinator

    6310 NE 74th St., Suite 201E

    Seattle, WA 98115

    (206) 322-9296 ext. 224 office

    (206) 322-9312 fax
    <file:///C:Documents%2 0and%20Settingsmariam.tevzadzeMy%20DocumentsInf o%2


    Announcement < ncement> >>


    Source: ENWL, 2006-05-17

    On May 17, 2006 Friends of the Earth International announced the
    launch of its first-ever photo competition, which will gather photos
    on the theme of climate justice from around the globe. The best shots
    will feature in a 2007 FoEI wall calendar and in a traveling photo

    Friends of the Earth International is the world's largest grassroots
    environmental network, uniting 71 diverse national member groups and
    some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent, and totaling 1.5
    million members and supporters around the world.

    We are looking for imaginative, striking photos that illustrate the
    impacts that the changing climate is having on people and the
    environment; that show who is responsible for dangerous climate
    change; and that show the way forward towards climate justice.

    Our global photo competition is free of charge, and both professional
    and amateur photographers are invited to submit photos. We
    particularly encourage young people, women and people living in the
    developing world to take part.

    The deadline for entries is July 15, 2006.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION and competition rules:


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