TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia denies the veracity of a report that the Czech parliament has postponed the ratification of Georgia’s association agreement with the EU because of a dispute about a fine to a large Czech energy company in Georgia.
A few days ago, Czech media reported that a financial dispute between Energo-Pro Georgia and the Georgian government may threaten the ratification of the association agreement.
The legislative body of the Czech Republic has postponed the ratification of Georgia’s association agreement with the EU until April 1.
But Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze on Wednesday denied that there is any connection between the Czech parliament’s postponing the ratification, and the dispute with Energo-Pro about the fine.
He claimed that there is nothing ‘special’ happening about Energo-Pro Georgia and this is just ‘unhealthy propaganda.’
Kaladze said the Finance Ministry discovered violations and reacted, and if the company believes that anything was unfair it will become subject of a dispute and then some consensus will be achieved.
Energo-Pro Georgia is owned by Czech based Energo-Pro, which entered Georgia’s energy market in the summer of 2007 and owns about 15 hydroelectric power stations in the country. Now the company has a dispute about the payment of a USD 60 million fine. The company believes the fine is unfair.
According to the Czech publication Lidové noviny, the republic’s legislative body could have ratified Georgia’s association agreement earlier, but the process has been postponed several times.
Energo-Pro Georgia was fined USD 60 million last year by the Ministry of Finance, after a financial audit of the company.
Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri said it was ‘just an ordinary revenue case’ related to the company and shouldn’t have any influence on diplomatic relations between the two states.
He said it was an ordinary audit which revealed violations, and the company was fined. Energo-Pro agreed to part of the fine but considered that another part of the fine was unjustified and is now arguing about this with the government.
Khaduri said the ministry asked the company at the last meeting last week to present additional documentation in support of their position.
“In certain part we satisfied their demands, as we considered them to be fair. In another part we didn’t agree. There is a third part of the case for which the company will have to introduce further documents to prove that the money was spent for its own activities,” Khaduri continued.