This Saturday, the first meeting in the negotiations between civil society and the government of Georgia concerning Namakhvani hydropower project on the Rioni river took place outside Tbilisi. The parties agreed on a number of measures and actions to be taken on three main subjects: effective and transparent control of the conditions in the construction and environmental permits and their review by independent experts, a de-escalation of the situation in the Rioni valley review, and an open debate on Georgia’s future energy security on the basis of the draft National Energy and Climate Plan. The negotiations were mediated by the Secretariat's Dispute Resolution and Negotiation Center.
Deputy Director Dirk Buschle, the mediator of the negotiations, concludes: “The most important and urgent of these actions is de-escalation on the spot at the Rioni. Peaceful protests and access to the valley must be possible again, while the safety of people and property – on both sides of the fence – needs to be ensured. To take the appropriate measures is first and foremost the Government’s responsibility. It committed to replacing the existing barriers and ensure access to the main road. It will also report on the detainment of protesters. The protesters, on the other hand, have committed to not blocking access to the construction site. It is important to respect these commitments. To restore trust between civil society and the government, and to avoid irreversible measures to be taken during the review, all sides involved should apply the necessary restraint and communicate with each other. This will allow the mediation process to continue.”