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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid