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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More