Anaklia Development Consortium Responds to PM’s Remarks

The Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC) addressed Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s recent statements about the Anaklia Deep Sea Port on 12 December, declaring that he “made a series of misrepresentations” about the project and emphasizing that the PM “made assertions about the future of the project which are sure to fail.”

The ADC also reminded Prime Minister Garibashvili that the dispute between the Consortium and the Georgian government over the project is currently in arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce in Geneva, underscoring that the PM “will be answerable for all his false statements today in that forum, as well as before the Georgian public.”

Prime Minister's Remarks on the Anaklia Port

PM Garibashvili revealed yesterday that the government plans to contribute to the building of and own 51% of the Anaklia port. He also made claims directed at the consortium, including that it “failed to fulfill its obligation” under the contract that it signed with the government for the port’s construction in 2016.

In his speech, the PM also directed accusations at Badri Japaridze and Mamuka Khazaradze, the founders of TBC Bank (which made up part of the consortium) and the Lelo for Georgia opposition party, claiming that after they “abandoned this project after 4-5 years and failed to implement it, they decided to rob our country.” “They sued and took the case to arbitration and today they are disputing USD 1.5 billion. Can you imagine what is happening?!” the PM exclaimed.

Khazaradze responded to the PM on the same day, emphasizing, “The Prime Minister lied 4 times today.” “I want to underline that my main motivation is to see Anaklia constructed,” he stressed. “This is the purpose of arbitration as well – to force the government to build the port!”

Government to Own 51%

Significantly, the ADC contended that “the idea that the Georgian state can find a serious private investor for Anaklia Port while planning to take a 51% controlling interest in the project, is absurd.”

“It is the kind of corrupt and deluded privatization and concession process that was attempted in Georgia and the other former Soviet Union countries in the 1990s,” they said, and highlighted that “no serious investor and no international financial institution will participate in or lend to a major project such as this if it is majority controlled by the Georgian state, especially given the Georgian state’s demonstrated unreliability as a partner in numerous business cases.”

Additionally, according to the ADC’s view, “it is quite clear that the Government has failed completely” in seeking out investors or port operators willing to take on the project “given the existence of the arbitration claims, along with the politicized Georgian judicial system which this Government has failed to reform.”

The ADC also stressed that the government’s decision to invest USD 300 million in the port “defies belief,” considering that it “refused to contribute even USD 50 million as a guaranty (not cash) to facilitate the financing of the construction of the port by ADC.”

Renewed Efforts on Anaklia?

The ADC pointed out that Prime Minister Garibashvili’s desire for the government to proceed with Anaklia “‘urgently’ is obviously wrong. The government has sat on its hands for close to three years since terminating the Anaklia project.”

“The Prime Minister is speaking now only because of the release of an independent documentary on the project which unveils the deceit of the Government in killing this project,” the ADC stated in reference to the new documentary ‘The Port That Never Was,’ which was shown at the Tbilisi International Film Festival (TIFF) this past week.

In that context, the consortium reiterated that the Georgian state is “singularly” at fault for the “tragedy of Anaklia,” which has left the people of Anaklia village, “without jobs, with smashed hopes, and with an environmental catastrophe in their front yards…”

On the Government’s Plans for Poti

In response to statements made by PM Garibashvili in the same address on supporting the development of a large port in Poti, the consortium stated that “as the Prime Minister knows very well, it has been the Government’s continued encouragement of the potential development of a deep water port at Poti that has been one of the major obstacles to banks and private investors in financing the construction of a larger deep water port at Anaklia.”

On the basis of the Pandora Papers, which linked ruling party founder and ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili to the Poti Free Industrial Zone, the ADC also accused the Prime Minister of “trying to walk a fine line between pretending to encourage the development of Anaklia Port, while not alienating his party leader [Bidzina Ivanishvili] and other oligarchic interests with stakes in the development of Poti Port.”

Citing the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development’s audit, the ADC also refuted Prime Minister Garibashvili’s claims on how much Khazaradze and Japaridze put into the project, stating, “the amount of ADC’s investment was $75 million (and indeed higher), of which $40 million came from Messrs. Khazaradze and Japaridze (not $3 million as claimed by the Prime Minister).”

Concluding its statement, the consortium reiterated that its decision to file an arbitration case “was a last resort for Anaklia Development Consortium and its shareholders, forced upon us and them by the Government’s determined opposition to letting ADC finish building the project and to its efforts to bring in other investors and banks for financing it.”

“Our desire is to see the Anaklia Port developed,” they stressed. “Plain and simple.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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