DETAILS RELEASED OF GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT’S CAMPAIGN TO STRANGLE ANAKLIA PORT PROJECT

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 09 September 2020 15:40

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[1] - 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.’[2]

Some examples of the Government’s efforts to strangle ADC and the Anaklia Port Project include:

November, 2017

  • 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. 

June 2018

  • 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.

October 2018

  • 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.

January 2019

  • 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.)

February 2019

  • 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.

February 2019

  • 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.

March 2019

  • 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.

April 2019

  • SSA Marine advised ADC that it was suspending its activities related to the Anaklia Port project.

April 2019

  • 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.

May 2019

  • 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.

June 2019

  • 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.

September 2019

  • 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.

September 2019

  • 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.

September 2019

  • 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.

September 2019

  • 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.

October 2019:

  • 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

 

EU4Business project helps set up business clusters for better access to EU market

Published in World
Tuesday, 21 April 2020 13:22

Up to 100 Georgian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now in a better position to take advantage of the benefits of the free trade agreement between the EU and Georgia.

The EU-supported project ‘SME Development and DCFTA in Georgia’ has helped to establish three business clusters in the country and to lay the groundwork for two more, reaching out to 100 SMEs specialising in furniture, interior design, film production and post-production, ICT, apparel and honey production.

As a result of the 4-year project, these SMEs have received access to leading international expertise to help them identify opportunities for capacity and product development, better competitiveness and integration with the European market.

Cluster member SMEs currently employ more than 1,400 staff members in Georgia.

The Project to Foster Peace Citizens, Implemented by HWPL Peace Education

Published in Education
Thursday, 16 January 2020 13:08

Kotebe Metropolitan University implements the peace education to train peace-building citizens in Ethiopia

In December, the professors and students at Kotebe Metropolitan University participated at the ‘Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) Peace Education’ sessions which are also joined by 214 schools in 36 countries. The sessions provided platforms for students and professors to express the significance of peace education and discuss the process of implementing peace education with the visions laid out by HWPL.

Ethiopia is the melting pot country, enriched with the diverse cultures, peoples, and religions. However, such diversity sparked many conflicts in the past, some of which are still ongoing. These conflicts have stripped the country and people apart emotionally, and the Ethiopian government is actively working to peacefully resolve them for the better future of the country.

To bring the peaceful reconciliation in the country, the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia and 9 other states had previously signed MOA with HWPL to implement the HWPL Peace Education. The curriculum is designed to empower citizens to properly recognize the value of peace and take the pioneering role of spreading the culture of peace. Implementing Peace Education is also the practical step toward implementing visions laid out by the Article 10-Spreading a culture of peace, out of 10 Articles and 38 Clauses of the ‘Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW)’. Citizens are carrying out the popular peace movement to present DPCW to the United Nations to make it into the international law of peace in the form of a legally binding document. This global movement aims to fundamentally cut off vicious cycles of war and support citizens to promote the value of peace as the universal culture for humanity.

A student who participated at the peace education said, “I learned why peace education is important for resolving conflicts in Ethiopia. It taught me to act as a messenger of peace. It is also important to present 10 Articles and 38 Clauses of the DPCW to the UN to fundamentally eradicate war and conflicts. To this end, we must continue to participate in peace education,” emphasizing the need of peace education in order to peacefully resolve the conflicts in Ethiopia.

After signing MOA with HWPL, the Ministry of Higher Education in Ethiopia is currently reviewing the ‘HWPL Peace Education’ to incorporate and implement it as formal curriculums in all the universities. Addis Ababa School of Science and Technology (AASTU) also held the peace education sessions right after the Kotebe Metropolitan University.

After an initiative to pursue HWPL Peace Education was publicly announced in September 2017, HWPL began signing MOA with every Ministry of Education in need of peace education.

So far, HWPL has signed MOA with the corresponding ministries of 10 countries, as well as MOU with 214 schools in 36 countries, most of which are officially implementing peace education curriculums.

Georgian construction company Prime Concrete starts building a new Pace Terminal Project in Poti

Published in Economics
Sunday, 20 October 2019 16:27

Georgian construction company Prime Concrete starts building a new Pace Terminal Project in Poti co-financed by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

October 10, 2019. Poti. The Georgian construction company Prime Concrete has been commissioned to build a new Pace Terminal Project in Poti with a total value of construction work of US$ 20 million. The project is co-financed by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). An official ceremony to mark the beginning of construction was held in Poti on October 1, 2019 and was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia Maia Tskitishvili, the Minister of Economy of Georgia Natia Turnava, the Managing Director of OPIC Kenneth Angel, the Pace Terminal’s Director David Nadirashvili and the Founder of Prime Concrete Alexander Sokolowsky. Other high-ranking members of the Georgian government and parliament as well as diplomats and foreign guests were also present.

For a Georgian company to build such an important terminal is a unique opportunity. Prime Concrete managed to successfully qualify for the tender in a highly competitive process with dozens of international contractors. Its competitive advantages lay in its distinctive means and capabilities, its experience and know-how, and its truly local presence. Prime Concrete also partnered with the Dutch companies Royal HaskoningDHV, which developed the most efficient design for berth and pier construction, and Vanthek, a leading international piling contractor.

Prime Concrete is a well-established Georgian construction company that has successfully implemented numerous large-scale projects, acquiring exceptional competence and invaluable expertise in the fields of port, water, road and other civil and industrial infrastructure projects. Its portfolio includes maritime projects such as the rehabilitation of berth no. 7 and the construction of an inland container terminal in Poti; public works such as wastewater treatment plants in Anaklia, Ureki, Zugdidi and Gardabani; extending Tbilisi’s 2nd metro line (to University Station); and building and rehabilitating several municipal roads in western Georgia (Samegrelo).

Prime Concrete CEO Alexander Sokolowsky underlined the importance of the Georgian company winning the tender: “We are extremely glad to engage in the construction of this strategic facility. It is an exceptional occasion when a Georgian company under an EPC contract takes full responsibility for the construction of such a complex and large-scale project. We use local capabilities, bring our decades-long experience and expertise, hire local workers, and use local construction materials, which is beneficial for local communities and the entire country. We will make sure with our partners from Pace Group, Royal HaskoningDHV and Vanthek, that the new terminal is built in a high-quality, safe and environmentally friendly manner, increasing Georgia’s transit capabilities to new high levels.”

The new terminal will occupy 25 hectares of the New Port Zone in Poti’s former shipyard. The total length of the berthing facilities will be 650 meters, with a water depth of 12 m. This will be the first modern facility in Georgia to handle deep-water vessels by 2020. The total cargo turnover of the terminal will be 5 million tons. The total project cost is US$ 93 million, of which US$ 50 million will be allocated by OPIC and the remaining US$ 43 million by Pace Group as an equity contribution. This is OPIC’s single biggest engagement in Georgia. The terminal will increase the country’s strategic importance as a hub between East and West and as an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative. OPIC’s decision to finance the project is also a form of recognition from the U.S. and other international stakeholders of the terminal’s significance for Georgia and the wider region.

EU4Business project holds sectoral meetings on beekeeping, fruit growing and market gardening in Georgia

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 27 February 2019 09:29

Beekeeping, fruit growing and market gardening were the focus of a sectoral meetings organised last week in Georgia in the framework of the EU4Business initiative.

Representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) from different regions of Georgia attended the meetings. Ministry representatives included heads of relevant departments, field experts, scientists and representatives of the country’s Agricultural Projects Management Agency.

The first section of the meeting was dedicated to challenges in the beekeeping sector. During the second part, problems identified in the areas of fruit growing and market gardening were discussed.

The event was organised within the EU-funded “Georgia on European Way: Creation of Effective Model for DCFTA and SME Strategy Implementation” project. It seeks to strengthen the capacities of Georgian CSOs and business support organisations in supporting the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU. It also helps implement the SME strategy for Georgia through capacity building, awareness raising and the creation of advisory councils bringing together all stakeholders.

EU-supported summer camp focuses on rural development and tourism potential of Kakheti region

Published in Economics
Thursday, 02 August 2018 12:44

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.

EU project discusses river basin management in Georgia

Published in Economics
Saturday, 09 June 2018 18:33

The development of a river basin management plan (RBMP) in the Alazani River Basin was the focus of a workshop held in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on 5 June.

Organised by the International Office for Water within the framework of the EU-funded “European Union Water Initiative Plus for the Eastern Partnership” (EUWI+ East) project, the event focused on the main principles and objectives of river basin management, from planning to implementation.

It also served as a platform for coordination between various actors in RBMP development , including surface and groundwater delineation teams. The workshop was attended by the relevant representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and the National Environmental Agency of Georgia. Their counterparts s from Azerbaijan responsible for RBMP, as well as representatives of the contracted companies working on the development of the RBMP and surface and groundwater delineation teams from Georgia and Azerbaijan also attended the event.

The EUWI+ East project helps Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to bring their legislation closer to EU policy in the field of water management, with a main focus on the management of trans-boundary river basins. It supports the development and implementation of pilot river basin management plans, building on the improved policy framework and ensuring strong participation of local stakeholders.

With a total budget of €24.8 million, the project spans a five-year period from 2016 to 2020, aiming to improve the management of water resources, in particular trans-boundary rivers, and developing tools to improve the quality and availability of water in the long term.

President of Turkey Erdoğan Invites President Margvelashvili to TANAP Opening Ceremony

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 06 June 2018 15:03

President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili has talked with President of Turkey Erdoğan over the phone. President Erdoğan has congratulated President Margvelashvili on the 100th anniversary of the First Georgian Republic and invited him to the opening ceremony of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project to be held in Eskishehir, on June 12.
President Margvelashvili has pointed out that through this project the European Union will have additional gas supplies from Azerbaijan via Georgia and Turkey, underscoring the importance of Georgia’s participation in the TANAP project that ensures energy security of the European Union.
The phone conversation also touched upon Georgia-Turkey future relations and prospects for further advancing cooperation.

International NGO HWPL signed MOU for "Peace Culture City Project" with Tîrgu Mureş City in Romania

Published in World
Wednesday, 23 May 2018 18:13

Appealed to Romanian youth and citizens to join in the activities calling for the establishment of international law for peace

On May 20th, Tîrgu Mureş City in Romania and the UN ECOSOC-affiliated NGO Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) signed an MOU for 'Peace Culture City Project' to develop a culture of peace through cultural exchanges and peace education.

“Tîrgu Mureş City is a multicultural and historic city. HWPL is working to raise awareness of the world in culture, civilization, and history through continuous and constructive peace education and cultural exchange. Through this MOU, we hope that Tîrgu Mureş City and HWPL will be able to make each other’s culture more beautiful through “A Culture of Peace - the City project,” said Mayor Dorin Florea.

Regarding this peace-building cooperation, Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL said, "I am glad to be able to communicate with the progressive City of Tîrgu Mureş through the MOU.”

As for the role of individuals in working for peace, "Let us leave peace and better culture for future generations as a higher state of culture through exchange of culture of peace," he added.

Then, Chairman Lee of HWPL and its peace delegation participated in the youth event titled "Youth, Let's Voice out" in Bucharest Parliament House. The event was jointly hosted by HWPL, its affiliated organization, International Peace Youth Group(IPYG), and the Romanian youth peace group, Master Peace Ro.

"All mankind desires peace, nobody has wanted war. So, if we become one, we will be able to achieve peace. HWPL exists for youth. I hope all youth to join in peace activities of the IPYG and leave peace as a legacy for our future generations,” said Chairman Lee.

 “We have all shared to you our experience during a period of huge political, economic, culture, and scientific, technological transformation. We hope that this working experience will contribute to your future in the next period of big transformation ahead of you,” said Hon. Emil Constantinescu, the former president of Romania.

Mr. Dragomir G. Marian, President of MasterPeace Ro said, "More than 1,000 youth have signed the DPCW and expressed their support. Today, I am happy to see the culture of peace promoted by the Peace Letter project." And he expressed his hopes for the youth in Romania to continuously promote the activities of culture of peace with HWPL, such as peace education and peace walk.

The DPCW with 10 articles and 38 clauses includes provisions to avoid war-related actions and achieve peace, including respect on international law, ethnic/religious harmony, and spreading a culture of peace. In order to advocate peace and conflict resolution, HWPL has engaged in peace education and “the Legislate Peace Campaign” to raise awareness of peace to students and citizens around the world.

In this event attended by 200 young Romanian youths, HWPL introduced the DPCW proposed as a solution to the dispute, and the participants wrote the 'Peace Letter' urging the president to support the DPCW.

DEFILE THROUGH TIME: THE CANONS OF WOMEN'S FASHION IN AZERBAIJAN

Published in Culture
Friday, 13 April 2018 11:32

The Museum of Azerbaijani Culture named after Mirza Fatali Akhundov in partnership with the Initiative Curators Union (ICU) presents exhibition of photo project "Defile through time: the canons of women's fashion in Azerbaijan" of Azerbaijani photographer Rustam Huseynov from 20 to 26 April 2018. The opening of the exhibition will be held on 20 April at the Museum of Azerbaijani Culture named after M.F. Akhundov in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The project concept includes visual demonstration by modern means the most interesting design samples of historical Azerbaijani costumes to the audience, illustrating the evolution of women's fashion through the time space and its reflection in the modern context of fashion. Project curator Konul Rafiyeva has set a task to show the national identity through the traditional costume of an Azerbaijani woman, which has been reflection of the original culture of the Azerbaijani people for centuries. Changing gradually, the folk dress has become an expression of the national mentality and could tell a lot about the traditions and customs of the Azerbaijani people.

Photographer R. Huseynov has devoted a series of photographs to beauty and diversity of traditional women's clothing combining cultural and historical interest with design interest. The exposition includes his 25 photo portraits of Azerbaijani women in traditional garments of different districts of Azerbaijan, showing customs and life’s many-sidedness. In his work the photographer used samples of traditional clothes from the personal historical collection of Azerbaijani designer and collector Natavan Aliyeva. Reconstruction of historical eras’ clothes is an important stage in the preservation of the national cultural heritage and restoration of national images in the mass consciousness, lost by the public memory and known only to a very narrow circle of specialists.

In his works Huseynov pays special attention to interpretation of traditional headdresses of Azerbaijani women, underlining age and social differences. 

The thinnest silk scarves, so-called kelagai, which was combined with diadems and arakhchin (a national rounded cap), gives special charm to women's appearance of that time. When going somewhere from home, Azerbaijani women covered their clothes and headdresses by veil or so-called charshab made from cotton and silk smooth and printed fabrics. This part of upper clothes could be made from self-colored satin, checkered, or colored silk fabric.

The silhouette of the dress, its decorative solution obeyed the plasticity of silk fabrics, facture of satin, and softness of velvet. The upper garment covering shoulders - arkhaliq, chepken, lebbade, kuledge, kurdu, eshmek and bahari - had a peplum on the waist, gathered in pleat or thin crease that emphasized the waist and increased the circumference of hips. Presence of a magnificent multi-layered skirt made the silhouette of a woman more voluminous and visually charming.

Modern Azerbaijani designers successfully continue these traditions. Demonstration of Azerbaijani designer Natavan Aliyeva’s collection “Neo Classic Love" will be organized within the framework of project "Defile through time: the canons of women's fashion in Azerbaijan”. The collection visualizes the modern perception and the diversity of traditional women's costumes in the context of the reviving fashion for ethno-style in clothes for everyday wear. Echoing with the author's photographs of traditional appearance of the Azerbaijani woman, the collection of Aliyeva is modern in cut and shape, but focuses the attention of the viewer on such colors of the national garments of the 19th century as burgundy, blue, turquoise, and uses such element of the national wardrobe as kelagai and knitted socks. Motifs of national embroidery dominate in accessories created by hand and with scrupulousness inherent to the designer. This collection links the historical past of the Azerbaijani women's costume with modern fashion trends.

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