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BTC Pipeline: Georgia

Economics

The BTC pipeline will travel only 248 kilometers in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Yet it is in this small Caucasus nation that the pipeline will wend its way through some of the most difficult territory along its journey. Georgia has historically been of great strategic importance to Russia, and Georgia's northern neighbor continues to play an influential role in the young nation's struggle for independence and stability. Georgia has also been rife with internal conflict since gaining its independence from Russia in 1991, and violent clashes have flared up in Ajaria, Abkhazia, and most recently the breakaway region of South Ossetia -- where a majority of inhabitants identify themselves as Russians.

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Local residents near the pipeline route hope the economic impact is positive.
In Georgia, the 11-member consortium of companies behind the BTC has sometimes struggled to garner public support for the pipeline. In November, 2002, it was reported that environment minister Nino Chkhobadze had been forced to lend her support to the project under direct pressure from Georgia's then-president Shevardnadze. Land use and reclamation have also proved to be thorny issues for the BP-led consortium. In January, 2004, the villagers of Khaishi were defrauded of $330,000 in land reclamation payments after their representative had redrawn the land ownership lines to benefit himself and his family. Given its fractured history and atmosphere of corruption, such legal issues can present difficult hurdles to the BTC consortium's efforts to reach out to local communities.

Go to Georgia: Politics
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