Georgia Plans ‘Financial Zone’ in Ajara
10 May, 2012

Georgia plans legislation for liberal financial system to establish a special financial zone on its Black Sea coast, close to the Turkish border, President Saakashvili said on May 4.

“Beyond Gonio [to south from Batumi] there will be a huge financial zone with its separate laws and full freedom of financial transactions,” he said.

“It will be a huge industry for Batumi and Ajara and for the rest of Georgia; it will be a new Batumi with 40, 50, 60-storey buildings; we

are adopting law now and we will be starting its implementation by the end of the year and I think it will take ten more years to put this zone in full operation; you will see soon buildings, offices spread like mushrooms over there,” Saakashvili said.

Before the August, 2008 war creation of “financial center” was part of the Georgian government’s plan, when the cabinet was led by then PM Lado Gurgenidze. At the time the government’s five-year program for 2008-2012 included a provision according to which setting up of financial center with its liberal financial system was intended; at the time the government was expecting that the center would have attracted USD 12 billion investment and created 10,000 new jobs.

President Saakashvili announced about the plan to establish “financial zone” on May 4, when he was speaking at a meeting with a group of students from a local university in Batumi. His 45-minute long live televised speech was mainly dedicated to the eighth anniversary of, as he put it, “restoration of Georgia’s jurisdiction over Ajara”. On May 6, 2004 then leader of Ajara Autonomous Republic, Aslan Abashidze, was forced to step down amid street protest rallies and pressure from Tbilisi.

“This was the only case when someone managed to snatched a territory out of Putin’s and Russia’s hands,” Saakashvili said.

“We do not have lost territories; they are lost in someone’s mind; legally and historically these territories [Abkhazia, South Ossetia] are part of Georgia, but we do not control them now because occupying forces are stationed there,” he said.

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