Irakli Garibashvili: Ambassadori Batumi Island’s large-scale investment project is set to further bolster Batumi’s solid international reputation and Adjara’s economic progress
Yesterday we are launching a unique, global-standard project that is truly exceptional in our region. This project covers two artificial peninsulas, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated in his speech at Ambassadori Batumi Island’s time capsule burial ceremony today.
The event’s invited guests were also addressed by the Vice Prime Minister/Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Levan Davitashvili, the Chairman of the Government of Adjara, Tornike Rizhvadze, and the Cofounder of Ambassadori Batumi Island, Fridon Katamadze.
The 6th Batumi Summer University 2022 – Nuclear Security after Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: New Challenges and Risks
The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the nuclear security and nonproliferation order was the primary debate topic of the 6th Batumi Summer University on Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation Issues. Discussions were centered on the conflict’s consequences for national, regional, and global security.
Internationally renowned academics and researchers have been lecturing and facilitating debates in Batumi every summer for almost seven years. We are proud of our collaboration with academics and learners from Stockholm University, Kings College London, GIPA, Odessa Mechnikov National University, Caucasus University, the University of Georgia, and European University (Georgia), Kutaisi State University, Ilia State University.
The Batumi Summer University on Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation was founded in 2015 and serves as a forum for networking, learning, and exchange among experts in the nuclear industry, decision-makers, academics, and students. It is a yearly, worldwide event with its headquarters at the Batumi State University. The Civil Council on Defense and Security, Batumi State University, and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority are working together on the proposal.
Public Defender Appeals to Constitutional Court against Temporary Exceptional Construction Rules in BatumiMonday, 22 August 2022 16:44
The Public Defender of Georgia has applied to the Constitutional Court and demanded to suspend the temporary exceptional rule approved for constructions planned in Batumi and to declare it unconstitutional. The mentioned temporary regulation allows construction companies to conduct the construction process without observing safety norms, basic construction requirements, as well as strength, sustainability, fire safety and evacuation rules.
On June 23, 2022, in the last week of the spring session, the Parliament made changes to the Spatial Planning, Architecture and Construction Code of Georgia in an accelerated manner. The changes make it possible for a wide range of constructions planned in Batumi not to follow the construction obligations that ensure the safety of buildings and structures, safe environment for health and accessibility for persons with disabilities.
The disputed regulation, until the approval of the general development plan for Batumi in 2027, in violation of the building safety norms and functional zone requirements, allows to exceed the maximum construction intensity coefficient (k-2) and maximum height of buildings by any volume, as well as to disregard all other regulations established by legislation, except for the regulations relating to the protection of cultural heritage.
Particularly alarming is the possibility of implementing construction projects without observing the strength, stability, fire safety and evacuation norms of buildings, which poses a great risk to people's lives and health and violates the positive obligation of the State under Article 10 of the Constitution to take appropriate measures to protect the right to life.
The disputed norms also suspend the requirement of ensuring accessibility for persons with disabilities. Thus, the State violates the obligation under paragraph 4 of Article 11 of the Constitution to provide an accessible environment for persons with disabilities for full, equal and independent participation in public life.
The disputed rule allows the implementation of the kind of construction projects in Batumi, which can have a serious negative impact on healthy living environment, bring irreparable consequences for correct urban planning and maintenance of recreational and public spaces.
It is necessary to plan and implement measures in Batumi in order to alleviate, and not on the contrary, aggravate the difficult situation of spatial arrangement, created as a result of active, chaotic and spontaneous constructions over the years, something indicated by the Public Defender for many years. The implementation of massive constructions without the general urban planning and the requirements established by the Code may cause irreparable damage to the realization of the right to environmental protection.
In order to prevent the expected irreparable damage, we also request with the constitutional lawsuit to suspend the operation of the disputed norms until the final decision is made by the court.
On 16 June, the European Union and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) donated four modern boats to Georgia’s Coast Guard.
These rapide response boats with a total cost of around 5 million laris will be deployed in Poti and Batumi. They will support the Coast Guard in patrolling coastal waters and conducting effective search and rescue operations, as well as to enhance interdiction capabilities.
The main technical specifications of the boats have been tailored to the needs of the Coast Guard to ensure compatibility with the maritime surveillance equipment and systems already in place in Georgia.
“Safe and secure borders are key for citizens in Georgia, as in any country. Ensuring security of and around the Black Sea – the physical bridge between the EU and Georgia – is a shared priority for both Georgia and the EU,” said Catalin Gherman, from the EU Delegation to Georgia, during the ceremony in Poti.
The boats were donated within the project ‘Support to Integrated Border Management in Georgia’, implemented by the IOM in the framework of the EU’s ‘EU4 Security, Accountability and Fight against Crime in Georgia’ (SAFE) programme.
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Question about the event
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: We are delighted to be here tonight to celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Georgia. I’ve had a chance to visit with some of our partners during the two days I’ve been here so far, but tonight’s reception is to thank our wonderful partners here in Adjara for all of the great work that we’ve been doing together over the last 30 years. There have been some really important initiatives that have helped develop the economy, develop civil society, develop democracy and local governance, as well as security cooperation, and many other areas that we’re working on with our Georgian partners here in the entire region. So, tonight is really our thank you.
Question on Georgia’s EU application and the possibility of receiving candidate status
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: For 30 years, the United States has been working toward Georgia’s full integration into the Euro-Atlantic community of nations. Almost everything that we have done and are doing here in Georgia is designed to support the people of Georgia’s desire to be part of the European Union and to be part of NATO. That is what the people of Georgia want, and that is what the United States firmly supports. We have been advocating on behalf of Georgia’s EU candidacy because we want to see Georgia succeed in its European aspirations.
When I hear people say that the United States is working against Georgia or trying to drag Georgia into the war or open a “second front,” that is a hundred percent Russian disinformation. That is absolutely not true. The United States has done everything we can to stop this war, to stop the fighting. Even before hostilities broke open, the United States was the country that was working hardest to prevent this war from happening. We absolutely do not want to see Georgia dragged into this war. In our view, what the European Union – what NATO stands for is peace, stability, prosperity. You can see it in every country you’re in: the stability and prosperity and the peace that come with being part of the Euro-Atlantic community. And we want that for Georgia too. We know that’s what the Georgian people want as well. So, we’re going to continue to be fully committed to Georgia’s sovereignty, to its territorial integrity, and to its desire to be fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.
Question about the Prime Minister’s recent comments
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: I won’t speak on behalf of the Prime Minister, but what I can say is I don’t know anybody in Georgia who wants Georgia to be part of this war. I think everybody in Georgia is – and certainly, the United States is very aware—of what Georgians have gone through and how they are feeling. What’s going on in the outpouring of humanitarian assistance and support for Ukraine is a good indication of where Georgians’ hearts are in this fight. What is really needed is not this fighting amongst Georgians. It’s for Georgians to come together. This is one issue where I would hope Georgia’s leaders could put aside their differences and come together in the interest of this country’s future: in the interest of this country’s stability and prosperity. Unity is what is needed right now, not more fighting: unity. I would love to see Georgians live up to their motto of “dzala ertobashia” that’s what’s needed right now.
Irakli Garibashvili: This visit by American command ships is yet another clear demonstration of the strong strategic relations between Georgia and the US
I welcome our strategic allies and partners visiting Batumi Port, and I welcome American command ships, their crews and personnel, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated today in Batumi, aboard USS Mount Whitney.
According to the Head of Government, this port visit by American command ships is yet another clear demonstration of the strong strategic relations between Georgia and the US.
"Georgia is very important country in the Black Sea region. Our geographic location has a profound significance. Georgia is a loyal ally and participant of global security. We understand well the importance of Black Sea security, and we are committed to assisting our allies in this direction. We share the responsibility of cementing regional peace and stability, and we will continue doing everything to that end. Army command compatibility, partnership-oriented drills, and the unity of our forces in times of crisis offer the best way to ensure security in the region. I am happy to see that our friends, during their stay in Batumi, will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with our country's rich history, culture, and traditions. Along with our guests, I would like to express enormous gratitude to the US Government and the American people, each American, who have stood by Georgia since the regaining of independence. On behalf of our Government and the Georgian people, I once again thank you visiting, and I wish you a successful stay," the Prime Minister addressed the crews and personnel of the American ships.
The guests aboard the USS were also addressed by US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan and Commander of the Sixth Fleet/Vice Admiral Gene Black.
"It is an honor to welcome to Georgia USS Mount Whitney and Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Porter. Many representatives of the crews and personnel of these ships are visiting this beautiful country for the first time, though the ships themselves have been here many times before. We are very proud of their return today. In September of 2008, after Russia's invasion of Georgia, Mount Whitney delivered 17 tons of much-needed humanitarian aid from the USAID, marking the first visit of the ship to the Black Sea water area, and look at Georgia's immense progress since! The history of these glorious ships, and the capabilities and achievements of their crews, are truly impressive. This visit reaffirms that the United States and Georgia, as partners, are committed to the idea of security and defense. Less than a month has passed since the recent visit by the US Defense Secretary, who reminisced about his time together with Georgian troops on battlefield and expressed gratitude to them. Alongside troops from the North Atlantic Alliance's member states and allies, more than 22,000 Georgians have participated in trainings and battles. The crews and personnel of these ships enable the US to carry out integrated aerial, land, and maritime operations with military and humanitarian missions, whenever we are called and whenever we are needed in the world. Your being here also reaffirms the unwavering commitment of the United States to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Thank you, Mister Prime Minister, Mister Vice Prime Minister, Mister Defense Minister, Mister Chief of Defense Forces, and heads of the border guard and maritime patrol services, for facilitating this visit-and, more importantly, for your strong support of our security and defense partnership," Ambassador Degnan said.
Vice Admiral Gene Black thanked Georgia and Batumi for hosting the US ships and crews.
"Georgia's support makes a direct contribution to maritime security in the Black Sea Region. Our host city has embraced our crews and personnel with genuine warmth and hospitality. I deeply appreciate that. I am also grateful to Georgia's Defense Forces and the Georgian people for supporting US- and NATO-led missions. Georgia is our strategic partner, and our support for the country remains unwavering. The United States remain committed to maintaining close bilateral relations and assisting Georgia in developing its defense capabilities. Your contribution to our joint security effort testifies to the strength of our strategic partnership and to the common maritime interests and values we share. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, during his visit to Georgia last months, stated that ‘Georgia has consistently and resolutely supported the United States in ensuring peace and stability in this region. I am happy to have this opportunity to reaffirm our strong support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.' The United States Navy-together with the member states and allies of the North Atlantic Alliance, including Georgia-is bolstering maritime security and stability in the Black Sea Region. No single country can deal with all threats on its own, the reason why I, on behalf of the United States of America and the North Atlantic Alliance and the Sixth Fleet, I thank Georgia for this opportunity further strengthening our relations," Vice Admiral Gene Black stated.
Press Service of the Government Administration
By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
The port visit highlights an important relationship between NATO allies and vital Black Sea partner Georgia. Georgia has been a consistent and steadfast partner in promoting peace and stability in the region.
Previously, USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) conducted a port visit in Batumi in February 2021. Legend-class Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL-753) similarly stopped in Batumi in May 2021, after completing interoperability exercises with the Georgian Coast Guard.
“Georgia plays a critical role in maintaining security and stability in the Black Sea and is a valuable NATO partner,” said Rear Adm. James Morley, Deputy Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO). “We look forward to further enhancing the relationship between NATO and our Georgian counterparts here in Batumi.”
U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) and STRIKFORNATO personnel are embarked aboard Mount Whitney, operating as an integrated team. The interoperability between the commands, and their presence in the region, demonstrates the U.S. and NATO’s commitment to the Black Sea and to working with allies and partners to advance peace and prosperity in the region.
While in Batumi, the ships’ crews will experience Georgian culture and traditions, while taking in the country’s rich history and interacting with local citizens.
“This is my first ship and first deployment with the Navy and being able to visit Georgia is exciting,” said Cryptological Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Melissa Mitchell, a Sailor assigned to Mount Whitney. “I have always wanted to go to Georgia and experience the culture and cuisine.”
While steaming to Batumi, Mount Whitney and Porter showed the power of joint operations by participating in the U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) led Operation Castle Forge. Castle Forge provides a dynamic, partnership-focused training opportunity in the Black Sea and demonstrates the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence.
Additionally, both ships partook in bilateral ship maneuvering drills, communication testing, and simulated exercises with ships from the Bulgarian Navy and Turkish Navies and were escorted into Batumi by the Georgian Coast Guard. These maneuvers, executed in accordance with international law, highlight the professionalism and skillful seamanship of all nations involved.
USS Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the SIXTHFLT area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.
STRIKFORNATO, headquartered on Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations, primarily through the integration of U.S. naval and amphibious forces, in order to provide assurance, deterrence, and collective defence for the Alliance.
SIXTHFLT headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
Vice Admiral Gene Black: Good Afternoon! I’m Vice Admiral Gene Black, Commander of the Sixth Fleet, Commander of Striking and Support Forces NATO. I’m absolutely thrilled to be here on behalf of the U.S. Navy, the Sixth Fleet, and my NATO team for Striking and Support Forces NATO. What an amazingly warm welcome here in Georgia. I’d like to introduce Captain Prochazka, the Captain of my flagship, USS Mount Whitney.
Captain Prochazka: Good Afternoon and thank you for this warm welcome, the amazing ceremony, and the warm reception to your country and this amazing city.
Captain Dan Prochazka: My name is Captain Dan Prochazka, I’m the commanding officer of USS Mount Whitney. The service members and civilian mariners from Mount Whitney are excited to explore the rich culture and history of Georgia to interact with the local civilians and to work with our military partners.
Question about Georgia’s role in the Black Sea region and relationship with the country
Vice Admiral Black: I think the importance of Georgia is clear when you consider that Secretary of Defense Austin recently visited I’m here representing the Sixth Fleet and the U.S Navy and NATO. You are a very important ally and partner in the Black Sea Region and we very much look forward to operating with you and visiting with you. And thank you, again for the wonderful, warm welcome.
Search and rescue operations by the staff of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is in progress at the site of the collapsed residential building in Batumi. Late at night, rescuers found the bodies of 4 people under the rubble.
As soon as the notification on the collapse of the residential building located on 26 May Street in Batumi was received at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, rescue and police forces were mobilized at the site, as well as ambulance crews.
According to initial reports, the entrance of the residential building collapsed. Upon arrival at the scene, firefighters evacuated the population from the neighboring flats of the collapsed residential building, as well as from vehicles caught in the debris.
At the moment, the area is being cleared of rubble and active search and rescue operations are underway. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation on the fact of building collapse; the information regarding the number of injured persons is being clarified at the moment.
Along with firefighters, special equipment has already been mobilized at the site, including aerial ladder fire truck. In addition, the staff of the Special Tasks Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Forensic-Criminalistics Department have also been mobilized. The additional live force is being deployed from the neighboring regions of Adjara as well.
The territory adjacent to the accident is condoned off due to security measures. The Ministry of Internal Affairs calls on the citizens, as well as the representatives of all media sources on the ground, to follow the instructions of the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and to observe the safety norms.
2021 Batumi International Conference will kick off today in a hybrid format due to the ongoing pandemic.
The main spotlight is on the upgraded level of cooperation between the three EU Associated Partners – Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – recently formalized as the Associated Trio, the organizers said.
The three Partners are determined to accelerate the reforms envisaged by their respective Association Agreements with the European Union that contain provisions on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas and prepare the next stage of their European integration.
“The panel will discuss possible interests of the EU to engage further in the enhanced integration process with the three Eastern European partners. Also, deliberate more on the European enthusiasm of the three countries while also reflecting on how the new format will complement the future of the Eastern Partnership,” the statement reads.
Charles Michel and the presidents of Moldova and Ukraine will participate in today’s Conference.