Meeting with the representatives of airline „Ryanair“
The Irish low cost airline "Ryanair" expressed an interest towards Georgian air-market, - possibilities of initiating routes to Kutaisi were discussed during the working meeting conducted by the Prime Minister of Georgia with the Chief Commercial Officer of "Ryanair" David O'Brien.
During the meeting it was noted that the growth of interest of low cost airlines to Georgia is caused by the business environment in the country, growth of the tourist flow during the recent years and the possibilities provided to the Georgian citizens by the prospects of visa liberalization with the EU.
Pursuant to David O'Brien, the working group of the airline will study operational and infrastructural capacities of the Kutaisi International Airport. He also expressed hope that the negotiations and consultations with Georgian government will lead to positive results.
"We conducted fruitful and promising meeting with the Prime Minister. Now I am in a completely different spot from Ireland, which is a great privilege to me. I hope that soon we will be able to connect this part of Europe with another" - the Chief Commercial Officer of "Ryanair" David O'Brien noted upon the termination of the meeting.
Dimitry Kumsishvili, the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development considered the meeting conducted at the Administration of the Government as important and fruitful.
"It was an important meeting, since Ryanair is one of the most fast growing low cost airline on the European market. We have been working with respective company for quite a while and today they visited Georgia with their technical employees to assess the condition of Kutaisi airport as well as evaluate new capacities and directions to make a decision about direct flights from Georgia. We hope that relevant decision will be made as soon as possible," - Dimitry Kumsishvili noted.
The Irish low cost airline "Ryanair" was founded in 1984 and started operating in 1985. At the given stage, its airpark includes Boeing 737-700 and Boeing 737-800 airplanes. Last year the company provided services to more than 90 million travelers. Pursuant to the data of 2015 the airline has 72 bases and is operating in 191 airports.
DETAILS RELEASED OF GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT’S CAMPAIGN TO STRANGLE ANAKLIA PORT PROJECT
Ruling Georgian Dream Party Reversed its Support for Vital Project,
Wiping Out Economic Benefits for Georgia
TBILISI, GEORGIA, 9 September, 2020 – The Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC), the company originally selected by the Government of Georgia to develop the strategic Anaklia Port Project, today shared additional details of the Government’s campaign, directed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, to undermine the project by dissuading potential project investors, lenders, contractors and suppliers from joining the project in order to kill it.
The following statement is issued on behalf of the ADC Supervisory Board:
“All infrastructure projects of such scale require government support; namely the encouragement of lenders and investors, the assistance in permitting, regulatory approvals and a favorable tax regime, and providing any ancillary support; in this instance, the provision of land and the construction of road and rail infrastructure. For a government to actually oppose an infrastructure project that it had itself approved is highly unusual in the global economy.
“The Georgian Government’s campaign to strangle ADC’s ability to develop the Anaklia Port Project represents a self-inflicted wound for itself and considerable injury to Georgia’s economy and its role in the region.
“Taken together, the Georgian Government's specific actions are part of a deliberate and well-orchestrated campaign to destroy a project which the Government itself originally sponsored and endorsed, but subsequently chose to destroy as a result of what appear to be the political and economic self-interests of the Georgian Dream Party and its principals.
“The Government manufactured all sorts of excuses for not wanting to see various investors, lenders and partners involved in the project, but the Government really only had one purpose: to choke the project to death by scaring away everybody who might have an interest in supporting it.
“Also, is it beyond coincidence that government ministers – including two Prime Ministers -- who voiced support for the project or otherwise expressed concern about the growing controversy with the project were tendering their resignations shortly after such comments were made?
“The damage to Georgia caused by the Government goes well beyond the potential loss of the Anaklia Port and the associated Special Economic Zone. The conduct of the Government is scaring away investors at a time when Georgia cannot afford to lose any more foreign investment. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the amount of foreign direct investment in Georgia has fallen from nearly US$ 2 billion in 2017 to just over US$ 1.3 billion in 2019, and in the first quarter of 2020, stood at only US$ 171.8 million - a catastrophic decrease even before the Covid crisis began to take effect. As Retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges of the Center for European Policy Analysis said, ‘the government only has itself to blame.’”
Some examples of the Government’s efforts to strangle ADC and the Anaklia Port Project include:
- Georgian Dream party leader Bidzina Ivanishvili requested to meet with ADC to discuss the Anaklia Port Project and asserted that the expansion of Poti Port could achieve the same objectives of the Anaklia Port at a far lower cost.
- During a June 12 meeting of the Georgian Dream party, attended by more than 100 party officials, Party Leader Bidzina Ivanishvili personally blamed Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili for his actions in support of the Anaklia project and for having close ties to ADC investor Mamuka Khazaradze. Mr. Kvirikashvili resigned the day after that meeting.
- In February 2019 ADC learned that during an October 2018 meeting with senior U.S. State Department officials in Tbilisi, Mr. Giorgi Gakharia (then Minister of Interior) advised the U.S. officials that the Anaklia Port project was not in Georgia’s interests.
- SSA Marine, which was selected as the Anaklia Port operator and was a potential investor, alerted ADC of its concerns about what seemed to be the Government’s support of an expansion of the Poti Port. (Following detailed studies sponsored by the Government back in 2013-14, it had been determined that Poti Port could never meet Georgia’s needs for a Deepwater Port, which is why the government itself selected Anaklia for development at that time. The Government’s subsequent expressions of support for expansion at Poti was a clear signal to the lending and investment community that the Government was no longer supportive of Anaklia.)
- A sovereign European development bank advised ADC that it had decided against supporting the project because of the negative actions of the Georgian Government, and the possible shift of support to the Poti Port.
- Another sovereign European development bank advised ADC that it was withdrawing its support because one of its counterparts had just done so (above) due to the state’s apparent shift of support from Anaklia to Poti.
- It has been reported that Infrastructure Minister Maya Tskitishvili, in ministerial hearings before Parliament, undermined SSA Marine as a potential investor and as the port operator, claiming the company lacked experience and financial capacity. These assertions were not true. In the process of her speech, the minister also breached legal obligations of confidentiality that were associated with the investment agreement.
- SSA Marine advised ADC that it was suspending its activities related to the Anaklia Port project.
- Mr. Giorgi Kobulia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, told “Forbes Week” that the negative public discussions and media reports of the Anaklia project were having a negative impact on the business climate within Georgia. He subsequently resigned within days of the interview.
- A major U.S. private equity firm which was in advanced negotiations with ADC to join the project revealed to ADC that Government officials warned the firm to stay away from the project.
- Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, in a trade visit to the U.S., met separately with SSA Marine, the leadership of the U.S. private equity firm that were interested in investing in the project, and with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, D.C. Secretary Pompeo expressed support for the Anaklia project with the prime minister standing next to him, saying it would “strengthen Georgia’s ties with free economies and not allow Georgia to be under the economic influence of Russia or China.” Upon his return to Georgia, Mr. Bakhtadze resigned, and this again put the project in unchartered waters.
- At a meeting in Tbilisi, a large Hong Kong-based private equity group with significant Central Asian transportation synergies that was considering joining the project was told bluntly by Infrastructure Minister Tskitishvili that the Government did not desire their participation in the project. At this same meeting Ms. Tskitishvili reaffirmed the Government’s seeming opposition to SSA Marine’s involvement in the project.
- Giorgi Volski, Vice Speaker of Parliament, falsely claimed that the Hong Kong private equity group mentioned above is a “Russian” company, with the intention either of disparaging it or sowing further confusion about the government's position in respect of the project.
- In a meeting between Prime Minister Gakharia and an Anaklia Supervisory Board member, Mr. Gakharia stated that “things had to get quiet” before he could reassure the major potential U.S. investor of the state’s support for the Anaklia Project, which the board member understood to be a condition that ADC and Mr. Khazaradze stop criticizing the government publicly on its opposition to the Anaklia Project, and the government would stop criticizing ADC.
- Also, the Supervisory Board was promised a letter of support to a U.S. investor from the highest levels of the Government, but this never materialized, even though ADC did comply with the Government’s request.
- A delegation from the U.S. (in Tbilisi to participate in the 5th annual Tbilisi International Conference sponsored by the McCain Institute) met with new Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, and subsequently with Mamuka Khazaradze. Representatives of the delegation told Mr. Khazaradze that Prime Minister Gakharia told them the Anaklia project was not commercially viable when this was patently not the case.
- Fadi Asly, chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, is quoted in the media saying, “No one will invest in Anaklia project as long as Bidzina Ivanishvili wants to destroy it.”
Taken together, these are only a selection of the instances where the Government of Georgia actively undermined the project in an effort to prevent ADC from developing the project. ADC intends to present evidence during the upcoming arbitration proceedings to demonstrate the degree to which the Government took such steps.
Further details of the Anaklia Port project and ADC can be found at http://anakliadevelopment.com
The M4EG Staff Exchange Programme helps Kutaisi to develop an Investment Portfolio
Kutaisi, Georgia, 21 August 2019 – Kutaisi City Municipality recently welcomed a colleague from Delft, the Netherlands, who travelled to Georgia on a 5-day Staff Exchange Mission in order to help Kutaisi design an Investment Portfolio – one of the essential components of Kutaisi’s Local Economic Development Plan (LEDP).
The Staff Exchange visitor from the Netherlands, Mr Gido Ten Dolle, who leads Delft’s Urban and Economic Development portfolio, met members of Kutaisi’s Municipality and City Assembly as well as representatives of the private sector, free industrial zones and higher education institutions. Their discussions focused upon Kutaisi’s opportunities for urban and economic development, and Mr Ten Dolle shared his experience of policy strategies and economic growth.
Through its Local Economic Development Plan, Kutaisi seeks to attract investors, raise the city's international profile and develop an inclusive economy. Encouraged and inspired by the 5-day exchange programme, the city’s municipality introduced a draft Investment Portfolio in order to achieve these goals according to a new vision focusing upon the promotion of tourism, industrial zones and higher education. Kutaisi expects to adopt a definitive version of this Portfolio by the end of 2019.
Ms Nino Tvalavadze, Kutaisi’s Deputy Mayor, stated that ‘It was very important for Kutaisi to participate in the M4EG Staff Exchange Programme. We are working on an economic development plan for our city, and at this stage we are seeking professional advice to promote Kutaisi as an investment opportunity. The City of Delft developed its own investment portfolio with the help of its university sector. We have similar opportunities in this regard, and Mr Ten Dolle’s expertise was therefore particularly interesting and fruitful.’
In turn,Mr Gido Ten Dolle, Delft’s Urban and Economic Development Director, noted that ‘We can look back at a very intensive week during which we visited many different places and sites, and held intensive discussions with Kutaisi’s Deputy Major, with several Members of Parliament and with representatives of employers’ organisations and higher educational institutions. We spoke a lot about the best methods to design an investment portfolio, and I am sure that we have identified some key ideas for further action. Kutaisi has great potential for further investments, but in order to be successful the challenge is to focus and set some clear priorities.’
In his assessment of the exchange visit,Mr Zviad Archuadze, M4EG Country Coordinator for Georgia and Azerbaijan, declared that ‘Kutaisi was already the 2nd signatory from Georgia to participate in M4EG’s Staff Exchange Programme this year. We are very glad that the Programme is continuing to run smoothly and effectively and that the meetings in Kutaisi have been so productive. Thanks to the Staff Exchange Programme’s meetings and sharing of experience, Kutaisi will soon adopt a new investment portfolio capable of contributing to the city’s economic growth.’
Launched as part of the EU’s ‘Mayors for Economic Growth’ (M4EG) initiative, the Staff Exchange Programme sends municipal staff members from EU countries to selected signatories in order to share their experience and render assistance. Kutaisi is the second municipality in Georgia to participate in the M4EG Staff Exchange Programme this year; earlier, in July, a Polish delegation from the town of Kostrzyn visited Baghdati Municipality in order to help their Georgian colleagues further promote Baghdati as a tourism destination.
About the ‘Mayors for Economic Growth’ (M4EG) Initiative:
The EU’s ‘Mayors for Economic Growth’ (M4EG) Initiative was launched in January 2017 in the 6 Eastern Partnership countries in order to increase the capacity of local administrations to stimulate economic growth and job creation in their area. By the summer of 2019, over 300 local administrations had already joined the Initiative, over half of which have already been promoted from Junior to Acting Members upon drafting and beginning to carry out their unique local economic development plans. In order to support the efforts of these Acting Members, the M4EG Secretariat launched a Staff Exchange Programme to send experienced municipal staff from EU countries on one-week missions to share their experience and render assistance.
Flights in 12 new directions to be carried out from Kutaisi Airport
Regular flights in 12 new European directions will be carried out from Kutaisi Davit Aghmashenebeli International Airport: Frankfurt, Hamburg, Baden-Baden, Venice, Naples, Nice, Pisa, Stockholm, Nurnberg, Poznan, Heraklion and Turku.
The flights of low-cost Wizz Air Company will be carried out by Airbus A 320 type of planes. There were no direct flights in direction of Finland and Sweden before.
1500 teenagers spent their summer holidays at Robotechnics Summer Camp
Robotechnics Summer Camp was closed in Kutaisi, where approximately 1500 teenagers spent their summer holidays and had the opportunity to get acquainted with modern technological innovations.
The project was implemented by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, together with the Ministry of Defense.
The primary aim of the project was to promote: science, technology, engineering, mathematics, robotics, modern technological achievements amongst the youth, in conjunction with developing creative thinking and popularizing a healthy lifestyle.
Prime Minister of Georgia Congratulates Azerbaijanis with 100th Anniversary of First Democratic Republic
"It is my honor to cordially congratulate this most important national holiday of the Republic Day personally to you, Ambassador and to the friendly nation of Azerbaijan. This date has a special significance this year. Our countries celebrate a centenary jubilee from the creation of the first democratic republic. It is symbolic that we have gathered today within the historic walls that served as a venue for our nations to choose their path of progress and prosperity a hundred years ago. Exactly one century ago, on May 28th 1918 National Council of Azerbaijan announced the independence of the First Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan right in this building. Two days prior, National Council of GGiorgieorgia unanimously endorsed the Independence Act in the same building" stated Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia in his address to the guests gathered at the 100th Anniversary of the First Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan.
Head of Government noted that it is unfortunate that in the beginning of 20th century independence of Georgia and Azerbaijan turned out to be short-lived, though these spells of liberty left an irremovable trace in the history of statehood of both countries.
"Recently, on 26th May we celebrated the Jubilee of our Republic together with Mr. Ogtay Asadov, Speaker of the Parliament of Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, our independence turned out to be short-lived. Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan existed for only 23 months, while Georgian - almost 3 years, though these spells of liberty left an irremovable trace in the history of our statehood. Within these hundred years, our countries overcame many obstacles and challenges. Friendship of our people and kind neighborhood counts many hundreds of years. Today we are building a better region with shared efforts to create more peace, stability and prosperity for all. Peaceful and stable region is the primary aim of all of us nowadays" noted the Head of Government in his address.
According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, peaceful and stable region is most important for the strategic projects that are jointly implemented by Georgia and Azerbaijan. Prime Minister focused on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway project and Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP). According to him, relationship between the two countries is an outstanding example of the kind neighborhood.
"Azerbaijan is one of the largest investors and trade partners of Georgia. This trend is constantly rising. Close economic and cultural links further solidify the foundation of our cooperation. Today our countries are working together on implementing large scale and ambitious transit and energy projects, which will completely change the dynamics in the region and its international significance. We officially launched the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway last August in Baku. Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) will be launched in June this year, which also evidences our regional cooperation this time between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Friendship existing between our countries is priceless and we take a special care of it. Azerbaijan was always standing by Georgia, be that during energy challenges over decades, as the Ambassador has mentioned in his address or - massive fire-led natural disaster last year. Georgia will never forget this support. I believe that our links will further strengthen and deepen to serve as a basis of a far wider and successful regional cooperation with the active engagement of other participants and partners" noted the Prime Minister of Georgia.
Head of Government congratulated Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan and his family, as well as the people of Azerbaijan with 95th Jubilee of late Heidar Aliyev. Giorgi Kvirikashvili wished peace, prosperity and success to Azerbaijan.
"I hope that with shared efforts and engagement we will manage to carry out this greatest mission and leave a peaceful, stable and affluent region to future generations. When we talk about building the state of Azerbaijan, we forget the name of Heydar Aliyev, whose contribution in this mission is tremendous. Recently, 95 years were celebrated from his birth on May 10. I wish to use this opportunity and express my slightly belated, but most cordial congratulations to Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, his family and the people of Azerbaijan. I want to wish a much greater success to the President of Azerbaijan in the building of statehood. Once again please accept my congratulations with 100th Anniversary of the First Republic of Azerbaijan and I wish peace, prosperity and success to the people of Azerbaijan" concluded Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
Jubilee reception held at the Youth Palace of Georgia marking the 100th Anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was attended by the Government Members, representatives of the diplomatic corps and other invitees, who were also addressed by Dursun Hasanov, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Georgia.
Prime Minister's Press Office