We are the only country in the region with simultaneous free trade with Europe and China – Georgian PM
We are the only country in the region having simultaneous free trade with Europe as well as China, - Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has declared at the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum, in response to one of the speakers Anil Gupta’s question.
Gupta showed interest how the Silk Road initiative will help the country in trade when trade deficits are observed.
According to the PM Georgia follows the openness principle in this respect.
‘We do our best to have open trade networks and agreements on free trade. Of course, we refer to no protectionism to create some barriers for importers. We protect their interests… Georgia has free trade with the EU on the basis of the DCFTA Agreement. We also enjoy free trade with CIS, Turkey. Recently we have signed an agreement with China. So, we are the only country in the region having simultaneous free trade with Europe and China. We have also launched negotiations over free trade with India and if we follow and execute all the agreements, Georgia will become a very good place for logistics, transit and trade,’ Kvirikashvili has said.
The Georgian PM has also focused on importance of using the Silk Road initiative at the maximum level.
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
Visa announced the appointment of Cristina Doros as Visa Country Manager for Caucasus Region
Kyiv, Ukraine – July 4, 2019 - Visa today announced the appointment of Cristina Doros as Visa Country Manager for Caucasus region. In her new role, Cristina Doros will focus on growing the electronic payments business in Caucasus region by increasing Visa’s footprint in these markets, and enhancing value it provides to banks, merchants, and cardholders.
“We are excited to announce the appointment of Cristina Doros to the position of Country Manager of Caucasus. With proven management and leadership skills, an in-depth knowledge of payments and a strong understanding of the regional business, I am confident that Cristina will lead the business to greater heights reflecting the importance we place on the countries of Caucasus region,” said Vira Platonova, SVP, Group Country Manager for Visa CISSEE.
Cristina Doros brings more than 20 years of experience in retail banking, information technology, innovations, cards and mobile payments. Since 2016, Cristina joined Visa to lead the regional Core Products team, and has been acting Vice-President, head of Solutions, Visa CISSEE since 2019 overseeing Core products (Debit, Credit and Premium), Loyalty platform development, Digital Solutions and Push Payments, all foundational for the proliferation of electronic payments. Remarkable milestones of Cristina’s professional successes include enhancement of Premium benefits, launch of Loyalty program in Ukraine and Belarus, contribution to launching Tap to Phone SME technology, etc.
“After my fascinating experience as a head of Visa CISSEE Products team, I am thrilled to lead Visa business in the Caucasus region. This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to bring more innovations and benefits to our clients and partners and to strengthen our presence in the market, shaping the future of payments and driving innovations across the region.”- CristinaDoros said.
About Visa Inc.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network - enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of connected commerce on any device, and a driving force behind the dream of a cashless future for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce.
Director, Corporate Communications
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Altyn Asyr Lake – new opportunities for the region
On the 8th of May 2019, a briefing was held in the framework of the events dedicated to the foundation laying of the new, social-production complex in Serdar province of the Balkan region. This event was organized with the aim of informing the larger community about the Turkmen Lake “Altyn Asyr,” including its significance in the sphere of environment protection and development of social-economic system of Turkmenistan and the region in general.
The high-level foreign guests, heads and representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Turkmenistan, international organizations and programs, international experts, as well as the representatives of national and foreign mass media took part in the briefing.
The authorized representatives of UN agencies and OSCE gave speeches during the briefing where they specifically noted the significance and scale of the man-made Turkmen Lake “Altyn Asyr” that is being constructed in the heart of the Karakum valley.
Then the Scientific-practical conference was held dedicated to the importance of Turkmen Lake which is a grand hydro-technical project aimed at the amelioration of environment, including the rational use of water and land resources. The key officials of Turkmen higher educational institutions, scholars, experts, as well as the representatives of national mass media attended the conference.
During the conference, it was noted that Turkmen Lake “Altyn Asyr” will undoubtedly make a vital input to the development of social and economic system of the country.
After the events, the excursion by boat and bus along the Turkmen Lake “Altyn Asyr” was organized for the participants of the event that was also complemented by a promenade. Here, the participants could get acquainted firsthand with the transformations in the Karakum valley that took place after the construction of the reservoir that is being replenished by wastewaters from the agricultural fields of the country.
EU-supported summer camp focuses on rural development and tourism potential of Kakheti region
Generating project ideas, devising projects and teamwork were the major topics of a recent EU-supported youth summer camp, organised by the Akhalkalaki Local Action Group in the Kakheti region of Georgia.
During the summer camp, participants had the opportunity to raise awareness about the history of the region, visit cultural, historical and recreation sites, and receive information about the academic programmes of local educational institutions. Moreover, the young people learned traditional local crafts, such as the art of patterning and creating Georgian tablecloths and local cuisine.
The camp’s main topics were regional development and tourism, in which Kakheti region has great potential.
The event was held within the framework of the EU-supported project “Promoting a New Rural Development Approach in Akhalkalaki”, which is supported in the framework of European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD).
The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through the ENPARD Programme. Implemented since 2013, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty in the country.
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