Georgian prime minister challenges Anaklia port critics

Georgian prime minister challenges Anaklia port critics

At a press briefing on March 8, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze called the Anaklia Deep Sea Port a strategically important project for the country and part of his strategy for turning Georgia into a regional transport and logistics hub.

As Ports Europe reports, commenting about information that the authorities are not willing to implement the Anaklia Port Project, he said that this was political speculation and irresponsible. He added that Anaklia is a priority project and it is key that the EU has included the Anaklia Port on the list of priority projects under the EU Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) project. At the end of last month, the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office released new details regarding the high profile money laundering case involving Georgian TBC Bank founders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze.

Georgian Infrastructure Minister Maia Tskitishvili said that there is no connection between the Anaklia deep sea port project and the ongoing money laundering investigation involving the founders of TBC Bank. She added that Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC), which won the state tender to construct the port and signed a deal with the government in 2016 with TBC Holding as its principal partner, had faced problems in attracting funds for the $2.5 billion project before the investigation was launched.

ADC is a consortium which consists of TBC Holding from Georgia, Conti International (USA), SSA Marine (USA), British Wondernet Express working in Central Asia, and G-Star Ltd. from Bulgaria (the company has Georgian ownership).  There have been some suggestions that there criticism of the project is due to unnamed parties supporting Russia’s objection to the project.

Georgia has been increasing its efforts to be part of international transport corridors, as it sees considerable economic benefit in having transport facilities, both ports and rail hubs, having roles in the new Silk Road. The new Silk Road (part of the Belt and Road initiative also known as One Belt, One Road, or OBOR) is a Chinese economic strategy to seek better access for Chinese-made products in European markets, which includes acquiring stakes in ports and other transport facilities, and cooperation agreements with countries along the Silk Road routes.

Last week, Georgia, together with Romania, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, signed a declaration for the promotion of a multimodal corridor for the transport of goods between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea (Caspian Sea – Black Sea International Transport Corridor project – ITC-CSBS).

The project was launched by Romania and Turkmenistan to create an intermodal transport route for maritime, river, road and rail freight transport between central and northern Europe and the southern Caucasus and central Asia, with the prospect of connecting to the Asia-Pacific region. Both countries have modern multimodal ports which, by and large, stand idle.

The corridor is based on the geographic contiguity between Romania, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and the services offered by the ports of Constanţa (Romania), Poti (Georgia), Baku (Azerbaijan) and Turkmenbashi (Turkmenistan). The new transport route is being created on the basis of the Trans-Caspian (Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey) and Lazurite/Lapis Lazuli (Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan) corridors.

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