Kakha Bekauri on NEQSOL: There Are Preconditions for Mutual Agreement to Occur

Kakha Bekauri on NEQSOL: There Are Preconditions for Mutual Agreement to Occur

Today, the Public Broadcaster published an interview with Kakha Bekauri, Chairman of the Communications Commission, where Bekauri talks about the ongoing negotiations with the Azerbaijani holding NEQSOL. The dispute between the Georgian regulator and NEQSOL is about the acquisition of a 100% stake in the parent company of Caucasus Online. The Commission claims that the transaction has happened without their permit and urges NEQSOL to reverse the transaction. NEQSOL does not agree with this, stating that the deal was concluded outside the jurisdiction of Georgia and it did not need the consent of the commission, while the then government was aware of the process. Last year, parliament passed a law that has widened the power of commission giving it a power to appoint special administrators in Caucasus Online. Since October 2020, Caucasus Online is run by the special administrator, this move  was followed by an appeal to the international arbitration Tribunal by NEQSOL founder Nasib Hasanov.

In an interview today, Kakha Bekauri said that the deal could pose a threat to Georgia, as the “Digital Silk Road” project, which NEQSOL plans to implement, could “harm Georgia’s national interests”. In addition, Kakha Bekauri states that the negotiations with NEQSOL seems to be promissig, because the company has suspended the lawsuit in the international arbitration.

“There are risks in major transactions, the law requires prior consent from GNCC. The law was not met and we were not given an opportunity to fully study and assess the potential impact of this transaction on the Georgian telecommunications market, economy and information security.

The role of both Georgia and our neighboring countries in the implementation of the digital silk way project is crucial, because everyone should be involved in this project. As I mentioned, Georgia has a natural advantage in this project, therefore, in the process of implementation of this project, no steps should be taken that would harm the interests of the Georgian state.

At present, by the scheme announced by NEQSOL, Georgia will become an ordinary player in this project, an observer of the process and will no longer hold a leading position. Of course, we respect our neighbors, we want everyone to be interested, and we will do that, but I think our interests should be taken into account by the other side as well. ”

– At one of the last sessions of the commission regarding Caucasus Online, you said that the owner of Caucasus Online, Nasib Hasanov, expressed his desire to negotiate. At what stage are these negotiations?

“There really are positive changes in this regard. There are preconditions for mutual agreement to occur. It was a positive step when the Azerbaijani side suspended the process in international arbitration. There is no alternative to negotiations and these negotiations should be successful, especially when it comes to our neighboring country, Azerbaijan, which is a very important partner for us. I think that as in many other issues, we have had successful cooperation over the years, we will find a solution here and we will implement an important digital silk road project together so that the interests of no country are harmed, “- said Kakha Bekauri.

It is unknown at this time what the outcome of the negotiations between the parties will be and whether the special management regime in Caucasus Online will end.