TBILISI, April 15 (The Conway Bulletin) — The government of Adjara, the semi-autonomous region of southwest Georgia, said it wants to attract around $1.25b for various projects that will transform the region and create 3,500 new jobs.
Most of the investment will be funnelled into the energy and tourism sectors.
Adjara is an important region for Georgians. It had a semi-independent status in the 1990s and early 2000s but was brought back, through negotiations, into the national mainstream by former president Mikheil Saakashvili in 2004.
Some analysts said that emboldened by the success of bringing Adjara back under central government rule, Mr Saakashvili set his sights on returning South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Georgian authority. Georgia lost a 2008 war against Russia for control of these two rebel regions, marking the end of Tbilisi’s hopes of governing them and also the start of Mr Saakashvili’s loss of popularity.
Batumi, on the Black Sea coast, is the capital of Adjara. Mr Saakashvili poured money into the city, attracting top hotel brands and even persuading US financier Donald Trump to look into building a tower.
But many of his projects now lie unfinished and this is seen as an opportunity by the ruling Georgian Dream coalition who want to show that they can finish the job.
>>This story was first published in issue 227 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper, an independent newspaper reporting on Central Asia and the South Caucasus. For more go to the website — www.conway.starbit.co.uk