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  Tuesday, July 23, 2019
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Georgia is looking to build a nuclear power plant to reduce its dependence on imported fuel
Georgia is looking to build a nuclear power plant to reduce its dependence on imported fuel, a leading Georgian television network said Friday. Power supplies have been a major problem for Georgia since the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, with the South Caucasus nation's derelict energy sector covering only 40% of its domestic needs. In his February 2005 State of the Nation address, President Mikheil Saakashvili promised 2006 would be the first year since 1992 without blackouts. Imedi TV said the possibility of building a nuclear power facility in Georgia was discussed Thursday at a Berlin forum organized by the German Council on Foreign Relations, known by the acronym DGAP. Parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze, who attended the forum, was quoted by the broadcaster as saying there is nothing sensational in Georgia's intention to build a nuclear power plant for civilian use, and that being a democracy the country will make sure all related international standards are met. Mart Laar, the Georgian president's economic adviser and a former prime minister of Estonia, suggested in television remarks the issue is too serious to be decided by the president on his own, and that it should be put to a national vote. Laar also said that some of European countries have already expressed an interest in helping Georgia build its first nuclear power plant. DGAP head Alexander Rahr said nuclear engineering could be a good way for the West to help Georgia settle long-running conflicts with its breakaway provinces, without facing the risk of straining relations with Russia. Russia remains Georgia's main energy supplier, and a disruption in Russian supplies earlier this year deepened the rift between the two post-Soviet countries. In late January, two blasts on pipelines running through southern Russia cut natural gas supplies to Georgia, and an explosion in a high-power electricity transmission tower in Russia's North Caucasus caused blackouts in much of the country. Georgian authorities alleged at the time that Russia orchestrated the attacks.
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