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
Prime Minister of Georgia Congratulates Azerbaijanis with 100th Anniversary of First Democratic RepublicWednesday, 30 May 2018 12:25
"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
Swiss Stadler Rail AG, a global leader in rolling stock manufacturing, will build a rolling stock manufacturing and repair facility in Tbilisi. Today, Stadler's President Peter Spuhler met with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to inform him about the company's decision about building a subsidiary, production of rolling stock, and relevant works planned.
The new factory will supply rolling stock to both Georgia's railroad system and Tbilisi's subway. Depending on technical and commercial considerations, the factory may export its products.
The world-renowned Swiss rolling stock manufacturer expressed its readiness to invest in Georgia last June when a memorandum was signed by Stadler and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.
Three sites in Tbilisi's suburbs are under consideration for the factory.
The meeting at the Administration of the Government was attended by Georgia's Finance Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze.
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili will participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos. The Head of Government will visit the Swiss Confederation on January 22-24.
During the World Economic Forum, the Prime Minister of Georgia will deliver a speech at the Strategic Outlook—Eurasia discussion. Giorgi Kvirikashvili is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with political leaders from different countries, European Commission leadership, and founders of large international companies.
The Georgian delegation under the leadership of the Prime Minister includes Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, Finance Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, and Co-Investment Fund CEO Giorgi Bachiashvili.
Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili held a face-to-face meeting with President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, who is on an official visit to Georgia.
The head of the Government thanked the President of Armenia for his visit and emphasized positive dynamics of the good-neighborly relations between the countries throughout many years.
"Dear President, I would like to welcome you. We are glad that you decided to visit Georgia. First of all, I would like to congratulate you with the upcoming New Year and wish you peace and stable development for your country. I am glad that your visit finalizes the year when we celebrated 25th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. However, our relations count centuries and they have always been as warm and good-neighbourly as they are today. We welcome the growing dynamics of our bilateral relations. Welcome!" - Giorgi Kvirikashvili addressed Serzh Sargsyan.
The President of Armenia thanked the Prime Minister of Georgia for the warm welcome and expressed his hopes for deepening the relations between the countries.
"Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for this warm welcome. I am sure that high-level meeting will have solely positive effect on the ever-growing relations between our countries. The path undertaken in last millennium bounds and obliges us to serve our nations throughout the period entrusted to us in a decent manner. I would like to wish Georgian people a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and wish them patience, optimism, since we have no other choice, we have to develop even further," - the President of Armenia noted.
The parties discussed bilateral relations across various fields as well as an official visit of Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili to Armenia, which is scheduled in the near future.
We are the only country in the region with simultaneous free trade with Europe and China – Georgian PMTuesday, 28 November 2017 13:50
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.
Georgian PM addresses state agencies, political parties and population regarding forthcoming local electionsThursday, 19 October 2017 14:38
Today, speaking at a Government meeting, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has made a statement regarding upcoming elections.
"In a few days important Municipal Elections will be held in our country. I am convinced that these elections will be yet another proof that as a result of democratic reforms and changes implemented in our country, holding free and fair elections has become a common practice. I would like to welcome the fact that the pre-election period was unprecedentedly calm, all electoral subjects had the opportunity to run free and peaceful campaigns, which demonstrates that “Georgian Dream”, the political team in power ensures holding free and democratic, competitive elections,’ he has remarked.
‘Therefore, two days before the elections, I would like to address primarily the state institutions, secondarily the political powers and thirdly the society as a whole: let’s hold these elections in a manner that will represent yet another step towards reinforcement of truly European democracy in Georgia, leave the violent elections in the past and forget the word for past fraudulent, violent elections altogether,’ the Georgian Pm has declared.
‘This is extremely important and we believe that throughout the last five years we have taken significant steps on the path of building such Georgia, such democracy. I would also like to urge the state agencies to give no reason for anyone to say a word about using administrative resources. I would like to address our supporters and emphasize that our strength is in respecting different opinion.
Our advantage stems from this principle. This is the major difference and important change that was brought about in our country in 2012 and this was confirmed many times in all elections held after 2012. I believe that our population duly values this huge transformation which was implemented in our country.
I am convinced that a democracy of completely different rank and level brought by “Georgian Dream” will be duly valued by our society as it was the case in last few elections. I would like to particularly address the law enforcement representatives and police to spare no effort in preventing any possible acts of violence, so nothing can cast a shadow on these elections.
This is most important and I am convinced that all relevant agencies will do their utmost in this direction. Once again, I would like to urge our society to go to the polling stations and vote, this is important for the development of our country and building an even better future. As a result of the changes implemented in our country, the link between the will of the voters and the responsibility of the Government should strengthen further. This link is the most important factor; this is the link that was created by our government and I believe these elections will serve as yet another example of it,’ Giorgi Kvirikashvili has remarked.
Tbilisi Belt & Road Forum will take place for the second time on 28-29 November, 2017. The forum is held under the patronage of H.E. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia and is jointly organized by the Ministries of Economy and Sustainable Development and Foreign Affairs.
Tbilisi Belt and Road Forum of 2017 aims to serve as a biennial platform for high-level government and private sector dialogues. In this respect, establishing a platform for comprehensive dialogue is vitally important.
This year, the Forum expects to host over 1000 political leaders, diplomats, experts, representatives of international organizations and businesses, including multinational corporations to discuss factors which define the regional and global trade, including trade facilitation, opportunities of e-commerce and digital connectivity, transport infrastructure and energy sector.
In addition to discussions on wide array of issues during November 28-29, the Forum also offers companies opportunities to participate in business-to-business meetings on 29th of November to network, share experiences and knowledge.
Tbilisi Belt and Road Forum extends on the mission of “Tbilisi Silk Road Forum” of 2015.Where over 800 participants from over 50 countries and official government delegations from 34 countries participated in “Tbilisi Silk Road Forum 2015.
Georgia is moving in a correct direction; improving bilateral relations and strategic partnership is important to us, - respective statement was made by Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe of the Federal Republic of Germany, during his meeting with Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
The conversation touched upon the key aspects of the German-Georgian bilateral relations, friendly, diplomatic partnership between the two countries during the span of 25 years, ongoing reforms and relations with the European Union.
Importance of liberalisation of the visa regime for Georgian citizens as well as the progress achieved by Georgia, as a leader country of the Eastern Partnership was emphasized as well.
Prime Minister thanked Germany for supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and stated that Georgia is Germany's reliable partner in the region.
During the meeting attention was paid to the reform of education system and to the importance of sharing German experience in that regard, as well as to the need of deepening the humanitarian and cultural ties between the two countries.
Georgia has a responsible government and Georgia is a stable country - Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili addressed deputy Minister of Economy of Italy Ivan Scalfarotto and the representatives of Italian business sector he hosted at an official dinner. According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Georgia has a success story that it can share with friendly Italy - the country that has been one of the greatest supporters of Georgia's sovereignty, its independence and territorial integrity as well as its foreign policy aspirations since the day of regaining independence.
The head of the Government thanked the deputy Minister of Economy of Italy and the representatives of around 40 prominent Italian companies and informed them about the reforms implemented across various areas throughout the last few years in Georgia. Giorgi Kvirikashvili also discussed the "excellent investment climate and impressive success" achieved by the country, which is reflected in the international rankings. According to him, due to the Free Trade Agreements with the EU and neighboring countries, Georgia is a window to a number of markets with more than 2 billion consumers, recently China also became Georgia's free trade partner.
The head of the Government introduced the 4-point reform plan to the representatives of Italian business sector in a detailed manner. The said plan covers education system, economic and governance system reforms as well as spatial planning and aims at bringing a qualitative change to the country's main indicators within 3-4 years. According to the Prime Minister, every step taken by the government of Georgia is a part of the united vision of the Government concerning the development of Georgia.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili also emphasized the impressive progress achieved by Georgia in terms of foreign policy and discussed the cooperation with EU and NATO.
According to him, the Government of Georgia puts particular emphasis on the stability of the country, which is a key to its development.
"This is why we chose, let's say more constructive approach when we deal with Russia. Occupation remains the biggest challenge for Georgia. And territorial integrity is the most important issue in our agenda. Unfortunately we witness erupting the borders on our territory across the administrative border with our own regions, but we believe that with our very constructive approach, with very consistent approach and with the help and engagement of our strategic partners, and I am very glad that we see Italians here in Georgia, our strongest allies, we believe that with our peaceful and constructive approach we will unify the country. But stability is also important for investments. Our partners should know that Georgia has a responsible government and that Georgia is a stable country. Despite our challenges we appreciate stability we achieved and we understand importance of this stability for the development of the country. So we welcome your presence here. We welcome deepening of bilateral ties with Italy," - Prime Minister of Georgia noted.
The deputy Minister of Economy thanked Georgian Prime Minister for hosting him and hoped that the visit of the representatives of Italian companies will be a beginning of a new success story in Georgia.
"We appreciate that Georgia is moving forward in all fields. This is a very attractive economic hub, it is an island of democracy and of stability in a turbulent environment and in a strategic region - on the crossroads between the East and the West," - Ivan Scalfarotto stated.
Members of the Government of Georgia, representatives of around 40 largest Italian companies and Georgian business sector attended the official dinner.