Candidacy of future Chairman of Parliament is unknown
According to the Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, the candidacy of the future Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia is unknown yet. This statement was made by the Former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili on the meeting with representatives of press and online media. Journalist asked him who will be the next chairman of the parliament if Georgian Dream wins. Ivanishvili answered that the issue of majoritarians is only now has been discussing in the party.
“The list should be strengthened after that. We should not talk about this right now,”-the Former Prime Minister said.
PRESS RELEASE ON THE INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING OF THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF TURKMENISTAN
On January 16, 2021, the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov held an Informational briefing in Ashgabat, dedicated to the commissioning of three infrastructure facilities - a power line in the direction of Kerki (Turkmenistan) - Sheberghan (Afghanistan), a 30-kilometer railway section between stations "Aqina-Andkhoy" and the International fiber-optic communication system and transit flows along the route Ymamnazar (Turkmenistan) - Aqina (Afghanistan) and Serhetabat (Turkmenistan) - Torghundi (Afghanistan).
The event was attended by the ministers, heads and representatives of diplomatic missions and representative offices of international organizations working in Turkmenistan, rectors of the country's universities, chief editors of print media, representatives of national media and journalists of foreign mass media accredited in Turkmenistan. The Ambassadors of Turkmenistan in foreign countries, as well as more than 30 representatives of foreign mass media from 15 countries of the world took part in the event through videoconferencing.
The head of the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan described these projects as real steps aimed at the consistent involvement of Afghanistan to regional and international economic processes, the integration of this country into the system of continental transport and logistics ties. The importance of their successful implementation was noted in the context of present and prospective bilateral, regional and international cooperation, including the positive impact on the general geo-economic and political situation in the region.
During his speech, R. Meredov emphasized that the construction of infrastructure facilities in Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, in terms of its geo-economic and geopolitical significance, transcend its regional boundaries, and in fact means the formation of a new belt of transport and communications and the energy supplies of the continental level on the Turkmen and Afghan territories, connecting the Central Asia and South Asia with Europe and the Middle East. This, in turn, is the practical embodiment of Turkmenistan’s international initiatives in the field of sustainable development in transport and energy sector, which the country proposes within UN. As examples, the construction of the TAPI gas pipeline, the construction of cross-border railways, bridges, power lines and fiber-optic communications with the participation of neighboring countries and other countries, work on the launching of the Lapis-Lazuli transport corridor along the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route were presented.
In this context, during the briefing, the importance of cooperation with international organizations, including the United Nations, its specialized agencies, and the European Union, was noted. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan announced the conjugation of multilateral interests, the strive of partners to diversify transport and energy flows, which creates preconditions for joining the mentioned projects of a number of integration associations, such as the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States. In this regard, R. Meredov stressed that the bilateral Turkmen-Afghan infrastructure projects should be considered as part of more comprehensive plans on the establishment of geo-economic space uniting the states of the region, neighboring countries, other states, and aimed at forming an integrated system of continental cooperation in Eurasia.
The head of the Foreign Ministry confirmed the firm adherence of Turkmenistan to providing comprehensive political, diplomatic and economic support to Afghanistan, which constitutes a single long-term state strategy for Turkmenistan's cooperation with this country. R. Meredov stressed that the basis of such cooperation is the reliance on the historical traditions of friendship and good-neighborliness of the two fraternal peoples, the awareness of the fact that Afghanistan is the most important and integral link of regional and continental stability and security, and the assuredness in the ability of the Afghan people and their leadership to overcome the existing difficulties and achieve peace and harmony in the country, attain its economic prosperity.
The Minister of Energy of Turkmenistan Charymyrat Purchekov, the Counselor of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Turkmenistan Ahmad Tariq Noorzadeh, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia, Head of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia Natalya Gherman, Head of the OSCE Center in Ashgabat Natalya Drozd, Director of the Resident Office of the Asian Development Bank in Turkmenistan Chang Ching Yu also gave speeches at the briefing.
Speakers noted that these initiatives of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, which were implemented, contribute to an increase in the volume and expansion of the geography of electricity exports, and an increase in the transport and transit potential of the entire region. It was also noted that the commissioning of these projects contributes to the implementation of the transit and transport potential of the two states, their interaction in the energy and communication sectors, integration into the system of modern international economic relations.
At the end of the briefing, Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan answered the questions of the representatives of the news agencies, in particular the “News Central Asia” (Pakistan), “TRT” (Turkey) и “Agence France Press” (France), the faculty members of the Institute of International Relations of the MFA of Turkmenistan, the International University for the Humanities and Development and local press.
New Cabinet Led by Giorgi Gakharia Wins a Vote of Confidence in Parliament
The Government of Georgia led by Giorgi Gakharia wins a unanimous vote of confidence, with 85 votes in favor, in the Parliament.
The Cabinet features one new member, namely Gocha Lortkipanidze who will serve as Justice Minister.
The legislative body also voted in favor of the 2021-2024 Government Program: Toward Building a European State.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Opposition Reject Election Results, Hit the Streets
Georgia’s major opposition parties, including the United National Movement of ex-President Saakashvili, European Georgia, Lelo, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Labor Party, hit the streets on Sunday afternoon, rejecting the preliminary results of the October 31 parliamentary vote, that forecast the Georgian Dream to form a third consecutive government.
The opposition claims the Georgian Dream “usurped power,” and rigged the elections, citing, among others, discrepancies in a number of final vote tallies. The key local election watchdogs said they identified the discrepancies in some 7 or 8% of the summary protocols. The opposition politicians argue the united opposition forces garnered more votes in total than the incumbent ruling party.
Protesting the “stolen elections,” the opposition leaders and protesters are rallying towards the hilltop residence of GD leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, after blocking Rustaveli Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the Georgian capital, outside the Parliament.
In the meantime, Gigi Ugulava of the European Georgia party, announced the opposition parties will organize a large-scale rally on November 8.
Georgia held Saturday’s parliamentary vote under a significantly modified system, which changed the composition of 150-member parliament to 120 MPs elected through proportional, party-lists, and 30 elected as majoritarians (from 77/73 ratio) and set threshold at 1% of votes. According to the results of 98.86% precincts counted, Georgian Dream garnered 48,1% of proportional votes, while the United National Movement-led Strength in Unity bloc came second with 27.12%. European Georgia scored third with 3.77%.
Preliminary results also show GD victory in 13 single-mandate constituencies, while runoffs are expected in 17 districts, including in all 8 districts of the capital city of Tbilisi.
MP Irma Inashvili, leader of Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots party, that is at odds with UNM and other opposition parties, also announced that today her party rejects the results, vowing to hold separate rallies.
Comment of the Press and Information Department on the opening of occupied Abkhazia’s so-called embassy in SyriaThe opening of occupied Abkhazia’s so-called embassy in Syria represents a follow-on to the totally illegal decision, which the Assad Regime took in 2018, under Russia’s pressure, and yet another violation of the fundamental norms and principles of international law. Following the aforesaid illegal decision, Georgia suspended its diplomatic relations with the Syrian Arab Republic.
The entire international community, the leading countries of Europe, the U.S. and international organizations strongly condemned the Assad Regime’s illegal decision on establishment of so-called diplomatic relations with the Russian occupation regimes in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. This illegitimate decision was strongly rejected by the Syrian opposition forces issuing several condemning statements and expressing unequivocal support for Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
We are, however, confident that one day, after the end of the illegitimate regime in Syria, when the country embarks on the course of democratic development, this illegal decision too will be revised and Syria will return to the international legal framework, which is based on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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