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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid