State of Emergency declared in Georgia
Georgia has declared the state of emergency starting today till April 21 in connection with the situation over the novel coronavirus in the country – Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia announced.
Prime Minister has already applied to President. Declaration of state of emergency requires approval of the parliament, which will hold the extraordinary sitting later this afternoon.
Georgia confirmed three new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) bringing the total number of the infected individuals to 47 – reads the information posted on the special web-page stopcov.ge created by the government of Georgia.
According to the latest data, 1966 remain under quarantine, while 251 under hospital supervision. Only one patient recovered from the virus.
Statement by Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia
Another military confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia has created a grave situation. There are heavy casualties and, unfortunately, the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of dialogue has not been possible thus far.
We all understand that further escalation of the situation will have an extremely negative impact on the security of the entire region. We once again call on the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and international actors to make the most of the available opportunities to end the escalation and resume dialogue. As you know, our country has good neighborly relations with both countries, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Historically, our Azerbaijani and Armenian citizens living in Georgia have always played a great role in the development and strengthening of our country, as well as the entire region. At the same time, their peaceful coexistence is a good example demonstrating that Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis have the potential to turn the entire South Caucasus into an area of peace and development.
It is our common interest for peace to be established in the region as quickly as possible. Georgia is ready to facilitate this process in any way, including by hosting a meeting of representatives of the sides of the conflict in Tbilisi for the purpose of holding a dialogue.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Georgian PM Gakharia and European Commissioner Varhelyi Sign Financing Agreements Worth 129 Million EUR for COVID Recovery
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia held a meeting with European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi in Brussels.
The meeting focused on the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of the assistance provided by the European Union to Georgia was stressed.
The head of the Government of Georgia and European Commissioner Varhelyi signed two financing agreements with a total budget of 129 million EUR, which aim to improve the socioeconomic situation in Georgia as a result of the spread of the coronavirus. Giorgi Gakharia stated that the signing of the COVID-19 Resilience Contract and the Integrated Territorial Development documents within the framework of the visit is yet another confirmation of the special partnership between Tbilisi and Brussels.
The European commissioner emphasized the strengthening of transport and communication links, economic recovery, and development. The Prime Minister paid special attention to the importance of developing physical transport and communication links with the European Union in political and economic, as well as security directions, noting that the majority of the population of Georgia supports Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Georgia's important role in the wider Black Sea Region was also stressed.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister spoke about Georgia's reforms and democratic development in accordance with European standards, in terms of which the country is a regional leader. Giorgi Gakharia underscored the recently implemented electoral reform, as a result of which the country has moved to a new stage of democratic development.
The parties discussed the difficult situation and instances of violation of human rights in the occupied territories of Georgia.
While discussing the occupation, the Prime Minister noted that 20 percent of not just the country's territories, but also its development and opportunities are under occupation. Giorgi Gakharia thanked the European Union for its strong support for the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The discussion also touched on the importance of implementing new initiatives within the framework of the Eastern Partnership and focusing more on bilateral relations with the associated partners. It was noted that Georgia is a leader country in the Eastern Partnership.
The Prime Minister also underscored the progress made by the state in terms of the reform of civil service, stating that a politically neutral civil service has been established in the country and that corresponding steps have been taken at the legislative level as well, which is one of the key components of good governance.
The meeting, which was held at the European Commission, was attended by Georgian Foreign Affairs Minister Davit Zalkaliani, Head of Georgian Mission to the European Union and Ambassador of Georgia to the Kingdom of Belgium and Luxembourg Nata Sabanadze, and Head of Government Administration Natia Mezvrishvili.
Press Center of the Government of Georgia
President of Turkmenistan congratulates new Prime Minister of Japan
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov addressed congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Yoshihide Suga on his election as Prime Minister of Japan.
“I am confident that under your leadership, Japan will reach new heights in political and socio-economic development, strengthen its authority in the international arena”, emphasized the Turkmen leader in his address.
Expressing satisfaction with the positive dynamics of the interstate dialogue, the President of Turkmenistan emphasized that bilateral cooperation had reached a qualitatively new level over the past years.
“Today our countries successfully interact in a wide range of areas. I am confident that due to our joint efforts, the Turkmen-Japanese relations, which are of a strategic nature, will continue to develop dynamically for the benefit of our peoples”, says the President of Turkmenistan in his address.
Taking this opportunity, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wished Mr. Yoshihide Suga good health, happiness and success in his versatile activity in the name of the further prosperity of friendly Japan.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli: "Thank you for your perseverance, professionalism, responsibility and dedication"
To celebrate the beginning of the new academic year, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, Mikheil Chkhenkeli addressed the teachers, students, parents, professors:
"Due to the ongoing pandemic, 2020 turned out to be full of challenges for the entire world. Consequently, we have to start this school year under unusual circumstances.
Protecting the health and safety of every pupil, teacher, student, lecturer and every citizen is a major concern of our government, so in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Interagency Coordinating Council headed by the Prime Minister has decided to start the academic year in a remote mode for some cities and municipalities across the country. Starting October 1, classes will continue normally in classrooms and auditoriums nationwide.
Under these uncertain times, in the conditions of harsh pandemic during the spring semester, the Georgian education system quickly adapted to the new reality in the shortest possible time, and we, as a team, in cooperation with our foreign partners, managed to deal with the existing challenge, and set an example for many to follow. As a result, we have maintained the continuity and quality of education. Therefore, Georgian education system, has gained considerable experience in terms of hybrid teaching.
In the previous semester, TV School project was one of the most important pillars that allowed us to maximize access to education. Subsequently, starting from September 15, the project TV school will resume again. It will be yet again, an extremely important component of distance learning, and a substantial resource for all students and teachers in Georgia. In order to successfully overcome the challenge we face today, every citizen needs to show the greatest civic responsibility so that the epidemic situation does not worsen. I believe that with joint efforts we will be able to deal with this important obstacle and the learning process will return to the usual environment in no time.
I, as a Minister and an ordinary citizen of this country, would like to extend my immense gratitude to every student, teacher, lecturer, parent and every employee of educational institution for your resilience, professionalism, responsibility and dedication.
I wish you health, success and best of luck with the new academic year”- stated the Minister.
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