News / Europe

    Projects Stall As Georgia's Saakashvili Prepares to Step Down

    As Georgia’s Saakashvili Prepares to Step Down, Projects Stalli
    X
    August 21, 2013 7:29 PM
    Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili so loves the new Black Sea resort of Anaklia that he once said that after he dies he wants his ashes sprinkled there. But as political power changes hands in Georgia, the President’s pet project seems less likely to come to fruition. VOA's James Brooke has more.
    James Brooke
    When Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, inaugurated beach hotels in Anaklia two years ago, this resort town was to become the pearl of the Black Sea.

    He envisioned a string of five-star hotels, jazz festivals, a water park, and an international airport. Infected by his enthusiasm, Georgian singer Pikria Mamporia composed a music video called: “I Love Anaklia.”

    A few kilometers down the coast, work started on Lazika, an ambitious new deepwater port and a city designed to be home to a half-million people.

    On one of many press tours to Anaklia, the home region of his ancestors, Saakashvili told reporters that he so loved the Black Sea resort that after he dies, he wants his ashes sprinkled there.

    But political power is changing hands in Georgia, and now the president’s pet project is sliding into stagnation.

    • At Anaklia resort on the Black Sea, a new, Spanish designed pedestrian bridge connects a closed Chinese restaurant with a closed water park. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • Construction is slow on what was to be a highway connecting Anaklia on the Black Sea with a planned international airport. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • On a summer Sunday afternoon, there are more palm trees than people on Anaklia's new beachfront promenade. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • Shorena Uchaneishivili, manager of the Hotel Anaklia, says the new government continues to invest to clean up water pollution and protect the sandy beaches of Anaklia. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • Anaklia's Golden Fleece Hotel derives its name from the belief that Jason, the ancient Greek mythological hero, captured the Golden Fleece on what is now the Black Sea coast of Georgia. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • A sea storm knocked out a decorative bridge at Anaklia's Yacht Club, forcing closure of the Chinese restaurant. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • Peace, quiet, tranquility and informality are the attractions of Georgia's remote Anaklia resort village. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • With the Black Sea tinted brown by the flooding Enguri River, a Georgian father give his son swimming lessons in the swimming pool of the Hotel Anaklia. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • Metal rods rust and rainwater sits in the concrete foundation of a stopped beach view construction project. (V. Undritz for VOA)
    • Georgia's new government stopped funding construction of an egg-shaped hotel in Anaklia, saying a private investor should pay for it.(V. Undritz for VOA)
    • Inaugurated in 2011 with fireworks that could be seen in the nearby secessionist region of Abkhazia, Anaklia's 540-meter pedestrian bridge already looks weather beaten. (V. Undritz for VOA)

    Cows wander on what was to be the access highway. Anaklia’s planned yacht harbor is silted up. Tourist observation towers have not opened. Weeds surround the concrete shell of what was to be a government-financed hotel built in the shape of an egg.

    Two summers after President Saakashvili opened the water park, VOA found it closed on a recent summer Sunday.

    Sofia, a Georgian tourist, hung out with her friends in front of the shuttered water park.

    "We came to Anaklia to swim and enjoy the weather," she said. "The weather changed on us a bit, so we wanted to go to the water park.  We did not expect the water park to be closed on a Sunday."

    More than the weather changed. The politics changed. Last October, President Saakashvili lost elections.

    This October, he steps down, ending nearly a decade in power.

    Georgia’s new political strongman, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, is a pragmatic businessman.

    “It's our priority to develop those sectors and borderline regions, but we should not do it by spending too much and with unwise planning," the prime minister said, referring to Anaklia's location just across a cease-fire line with Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region. " We should evaluate and develop in a professional manner and not just on one man's opinion."

    Now the deepwater port project also looks like a failed dream of the outgoing government.

    Giorgi Vashadze worked on the port and resort projects, both in President Saakashvili’s home region.

    “Unfortunately the current government’s position is that they want to shut down, to close everything that was linked with previous government," said Vashadze, a member of parliament for Mr. Saakashvili's United National Movement. "I don’t think this good for government that wants well for this country.”

    At the Hotel Anaklia, director Shorena Uchaneishvili says the new government continues to invest in the resort.

    "We don't feel that big of a difference here actually," she said, noting that her hotel is largely full this summer. "There are already plans for the coming year to develop the current infrastructure, like filtering and cleaning the local river and expanding the beach area," she added.

    But with muddy river water polluting beaches and the water park closed, the major attraction is sunbathing.

    Ladislav Holko came here from Slovakia.

    "I think the place has potential, but it's empty, it's too empty," he said as he paused on the resort's 540-meter pedestrian bridge. "So the problem is how to attract people to come here and how to keep them here."

    As long as Anaklia remains an orphan of the new government, the striking, new Spanish-designed bridge will remain a bridge to nowhere.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    August 22, 2013 8:09 AM
    I don't know about the new guy, but the old guy did not seem fit to be a president. I remember the look on his face when russian jets were flying over. Too much fear is a sign of something.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora