TBILISI, DFWatch — The new government has still not decided whether to implement Saakashvili’s idea of building a completely new city Lazika in Georgia.
The new government have different ideas about the plan to build a city with half a million people on the Black Sea shores near the conflict zone.
Building Lazika city was an unexpected idea which Mikheil Saakashvili described in one of his speeches at the end of 2011, when no one had heard of it. There has been debate over whether it is right to build a completely new city if there are a number of old cities needing rehabilitation, and whether it will attract new investors.
At first, in the beginning of October, when the election results weren’t final, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the current Prime Minister, said there is no need to build Lazika and he said Lazika is Saakasvhili’s largest joke.
“Why should a city be built on that swamp, for whom will it be, when all of Georgia is almost empty,” he said.
However, the day before being approved as Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivansihvili said building Lazika is absurd, but a port may still be built there.
He said he is badly informed about the issue and cannot give specific answers, but the government will review this issue. The Prime Minister thinks building a port is more realistic.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who is Georgia’s new economy minister, stated that the new economy team has way much important priorities than building Lazika.
“I doubt someone will have time for Lazika in the nearest future,” he said a week before being approved to his new post. “This is not an infrastructure project, but it is about building a new city, which may be implemented by participation of private investors and their desire, but not by forcing someone.”
The period before the election President Saakashvili spoke about different projects in Lazika. At the end of September he visited a place for the future city stating that constructions of a church is to start soon, which will be a copy of Bana Cathedral, Georgian cathedral built in VII, which is on territory of Turkey right now.
Mikheil Saakashvili said then that a port of Lazia will be the largest in Georgia’s sea coast and port will host large-ton ships.
President described each corner of the city where there will be located logistic centers, plants, water pipes.
“Georgia needs Port Lazika if we want to have large income,” he said adding that 1500-2000 people will be employed.
Previous government planned to dry swamps, build business-centers, city hall, hotels and Lazika would have own airport.
Two building constructions are already finished. Those are port administration, which used to be living building of Interior Ministry, but was transferred into port administration now having poster attached ‘Lazika Port’; and another building is Lazika City Hall.
Different projects and drawings of future city was released by initiators, including Georgia’s famous house of Justice, a glass building; 3d commercial of the city was also released.
Another point of Lazika construction supporters is that new city will have political opportunities as it will be located close to Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia, which is currently occupied by Russia.
Kakha Bendukidze, who former economy minister is chair of Free University, explains that Lazika may create door or a window, which will give Abkhaz population to look in Georgia, come to Georgia and cooperate with this part of the country, he told Rustavi 2 TV.
“If we do everything right, then Lazika will become for Abkhaz populations, what West Berlin used to be for East Berlin population in its time,” he explained.
However, new government officials do not go in details while commenting about fate of the new city. Yet it is known that port of the new city may be finished, but people working in the port should live somewhere, critics say.
When budget draft was presented for 2012 to parliament, which approved the draft at the end of 2011, Lazika wasn’t mentioned there. However, money was allocated from the state for constructions of highway, bridges and a house of justice in Lazika.
See also http://dfwatch.net/lazika-democratic-deficit-in-public-decision-making-process-64128 for more