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
Georgian Dream took initiative to hold 2020 parliamentary elections under proportional system - Bidzina Ivanishvili statedMonday, 24 June 2019 16:42
“Georgian Dream” has taken the initiative to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections under a proportional system, with zero electoral threshold. The Chairperson of the party “Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia” Bidzina Ivanishvili made the relevant announcement at the briefing today.
“I would like to remind that the ‘Georgian Dream’ was the initiator of the constitutional reform, regarding the transfer to the proportional system, as it better responds to multi-party democracy’s needs. However, it was also decided that transition to this electoral system would be better in 2024, as it would allow strengthening of parties, more consolidation, and competitiveness. This is why we chose 2024 as the optimal term, especially given into account that the current mixed electoral system is absolutely democratic, which has been tested in many traditional democratic countries. However, life constantly brings changes and a responsible political force must adequately respond to challenges and hear the public voice. We see that society demands changes and this initiative provides grounds for such changes”, – Ivanishvili stated.
The sitting of the Political Council of the party has been held today at the Georgian Dream’s office, after which the session of the majority took place.
Conduct of proportional elections in 2020 was one of the main demands of the protest ongoing at Rustaveli Avenue in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi.
We are gathered for the last Executive Government Meeting today, until the new composition of the Government of Georgia gets endorsed. I wish to briefly overview the past four years that we have worked together performing tasks that can be definitely labeled as the most significant for our country and our people. Therefore, I wish to greatly thank you all for this.
I wish to particularly stress the contribution in the breakthrough of our country made by Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili, first Prime Minister of Georgia from our team. It was an essential transformation of national policy and governance of our country. I wish to sincerely thank him on behalf of all of us. I also wish to thank my predecessor, Mr. Irakli Gharibashvili and everyone else working within the Cabinet of Ministers at different occasions doing the most important job for the country.
What makes me most proud is that a human being has always been the prime and supreme value for our Government. Every step we took together was aimed towards, about, around and for humans. Healthcare Reform Agenda was oriented at them. It enabled hundreds of thousands of our citizens to seek medical treatment for gratis and today we have healthier people great merits to this initiative.
Another milestone achievement of our efforts was aimed at the protection of the socially vulnerable groups and internally displaced people. We always sympathized with regular people and their concerns. Moreover, no person is nowadays afraid of openly expressing his ideas and making choice. Judiciary has undergone a considerable progress. Media is genuinely free. All of this taken together is indeed a huge progress. Our country has advanced this much and duly demonstrated it to the international community.
Georgia evidences progress practically in every dimension according to the rating systems of international institutions - be that democracy or economic development measurement indicators.
Also, voluminous success has been achieved in our quest for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Georgia signed the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union (EU), including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). Indeed, it opens entirely new opportunities to Georgia and to the private sector in our country. In addition, we made significant trade links with the East, which is equally and tremendously important indeed.
Of course, there were a number of serious challenges within these four years - both within the country and overseas. We always managed to address them with a shared effort.
Being the Prime Minister of Georgia, I take great pride in every single day spent with each one of you. What makes us significant is the foundation made to the Four Point Reform Agenda, which should serve as a solid ground for the vast economic breakthrough of our country in the coming four years, fundamental transformation of the education system, modernization of the nation-wide infrastructure, development of spatial planning and further more improvement and transformation of the governance system. It will indeed bring more prosperity to each individual citizen of our country and our mission will be met - to let every person embrace the significance and outcome of changes happening and anticipated in the country.
Great trust expressed by citizens of our country by voting for the Georgian Dream in the recent general elections was a huge success on its own merits within the context of democratic development of Georgia. We should by all means translate it into the well-being of each individual living in this country, making it clear and vivid for everyone - thus leading to essential, quality adjustment. Once again, let me thank you all. Let me also wish a brighter future to our country.
I have never said that I would arrive to Georgia before the elections- this statement was made by the Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.
"The point is that if I arrive to the end of the first round, the same people who ask me questions, would made me dangerous provocateur and Bidzina Ivanishvili would blame me and my supporters in incite civil conflict. We were planning to win in the elections in first round and to fight in second round. I planned to arrive to Georgia after that but unprecedented manipulations have happened.”-he said.
I plan to participate in the second round of elections and vote against constitutional majority threat – this statement made by the leader of New Political Center Girchi, Zurab Japaridze.
According to him, he doesn’t believe that the second round leaves important chance Georgian Dream not to receive constitutional majority.
As Japaridze said, Georgian reality is the merit of National Movement. He also doesn’t believe that Bidzina Ivanishvili receives instruction from Kremlin and Georgian Dream plans to separate Georgia from European Union.
According to the Former Prime Minister of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili will be asked to leave Ukraine after the elections. As Bidzina Ivanishvili said, he has the information that Saakashvili can’t win elections and has nowhere to go.
"The United National Movement is dreaming of coup. We will not start talking about how strong our state is. All agencies are able to respond to challenges. However, I would not focus on it. I would emphasize the fact that the party is bankrupted and cannot do anything”, said the former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Free Democrats can reach the second place in Parliamentary elections. This statement was made by the Former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili. According to him, National Movement may not be able to enter to Parliament by this scenario.
“I think that Free Democrats can reach the second place in Parliamentary elections. This is a good chance. National Movement may not be able to enter to Parliament by this scenario. If they continue marginalization this is possible,”-he said.
As Ivanishvili stated, Georgian Dream should form a coalition after the elections.
Social background is poor in Georgia. As the Former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili said, the number of socially vulnerable people will be reduced in next 4 years. Ivanishvili said that the new government 4 times increased financing social sector.
“Social background is poor in Georgia. If you asked me 4 years ago about the possibility of change the social background in 2016, I would say no. But there is a possibility of health sector. People couldn’t take care and they were dying. If you ask me, will we have poor people in next 4 years, I will answer that much more less,”-Bidzina Ivanishvili said.
The Leader of Tamaz Mechiauri-For United Georgia removed his candidacy from majority elections. Tamaz Mechiauri wrote it on his official social network.
“I will continue election campaign only with my partial list. I support all majority candidates from my team,”-he wrote. Despite differences in foreign policy, his team supports Bidzina Ivanishvili and its Georgian Dream and is ready to help them in any situation.
According to the information of United National Movement, if the results are unsatisfactory in elections for Georgian Dream, the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvli will leave Georgia. As Nika Melia and Giga Bokeria said, the information is trusted.
“Bidzina Ivanisvhili has met with his nearest surroundings in informal format and said: if the results are unsatisfactory in parliamentary elections, he will leave Georgia. In our opinion, despite Ivanishvili regressed practically all of the sectors in our country, it will be too unfavorable if he really leaves Georgia after the elections,”-Giga Bokeria and Nika Melia said.