TBILSI, DFWatch – Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili wants to build a brand new city on the Black Sea shore near the breakaway region Abkhazia.
Saakashvili made this statement in the town of Zugdidi on December 4, close to the border with Abkhazia.
“We have decided to establish a great city between Anaklia and Kulev which will be called Lazika,” Saakashvili said.
He estimates that minimum half a million people will be living in this city in ten years’ time.
“This will be the second biggest city after the capital Tbilisi. It will be the main trade center in western Georgia and the main center for Georgia on the Black Sea,” the president said.
According to official statistics, the population of this region is more than half a million.
Saakashvili claims that large-scale works will begin next year and new sea port will be built next to Anaklia, a newly built tourist resort.
“We will employ several thousands of people in the construction works of this new city,” Saakashvili says.
Negotiations are already started with several large investors in Asia and Europe to finance the ambitious project, the president said, and a tender will be announced for architects to start planning the design the new metropol to be erected right at the border which Saakashvili has previously said defines the line between uncivilized and civilized peoples.
For the last decade Georgia has been experiencing a drop in population numbers due to emigration. According to official data from the Georgian National Statistic Office, the country’s total population is 4 469 200 thousand as of January 1, 2011. But unofficial estimates put the country’s real population at around three and a half million. The official numbers are based on a census from 2002, and in the meantime tens or hundreds of thousands have left, many illegally, and appear to be living in Georgia though physically are elsewhere.
Saakashvili appealed to those who have emigrated, as well as to internally-displaced persons, who have been forced out of their shelters in the capital lately.
“I want to call for all people who left Georgia, all displaced people from Abkhazia, to return and build the new city together with us. We have a large building process ahead of us and we have bold plans ahead,” Saakashvoili implored.
According to official statistics, 1 162 400 of them live in the capital Tbilisi. The biggest cities by population are: Rustavi – 121 000 people, Kutaisi – 195 000, Batumi – 125 000 and Poti – 48 000.
The number of people living in cities is more than half of the total population, and more and more people are moving to cities.