PHOTO FOCUS STORY PROMISES VS. RESULTS AT A GLANCE RELATED STORIES
PROMISES VS. RESULTS Print this page  |  Email this page   

Although the liberation of Ajaria in May 2004 started off with high hopes, the past year has brought few results to the autonomous region. The optimism people expressed in last year’s elections has turned to anger and resentment as inflation has risen and few major changes have taken place. Check out three promises made to Ajaria and their results.

PROMISE / RESULT   1 of 3

PROMISE: On May 8, 2004, President Mikheil Saakashvili promised that property illegally acquired by Aslan Abashidze, Ajaria’s former leader, would be returned to the Ajarian people. Auctions were planned to dispose of houses, art collections, cars, dogs and more. Money earned from the sales was to be paid into regional government coffers.

RESULT: On September 6, 2004, the Ajarian Supreme Court ruled it legal to seize Abashidze’s assets -- reportedly worth an estimated $58 million. While Batumi officials cannot say exactly what happened to the art collection or other riches, Saakashvili did give Georgian officers serving in Batumi four of Abashidze’s dachas as living quarters.

PROMISE / RESULT   2 of 3

PROMISE: On May 6, 2004, the day former Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze fled to Moscow, Saakashvili swore to protect the region’s autonomy. "There is no threat to Ajaria's autonomous status and there will be no such threat in the future,” he said during a televised speech to the nation. “Ajaria's status will be finally clarified by a special constitutional law."

RESULT: On July 5, 2004, President Saakashvili signed a document outlining the new division of powers between the Ajarian Autonomous Republic and the central government. While the new agreement does maintain the autonomous status of the region, local and international experts have criticized it for taking too much authority away from the Ajarian government.

PROMISE / RESULT   3 of 3

PROMISE: On May 7, 2004, former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania noted during a cabinet meeting that unemployment and social conditions were worse in Ajaria than in other regions in the country. He pledged that the government would improve the investment climate and prepare the region for privatization.

RESULT: A group of prominent Georgian businessmen visited Ajaria soon after Zhvania’s statement, but no major new investments in Ajaria have yet been made. Ongoing problems with electricity are a strong deterrent. Nor has privatization yet provided the expected economic stimulus. After an earlier sale was annulled, the Batumi-based Georgian Ocean Shipping Company was sold in late April 2005 to the British-owned Marine Capital for $93 million.

[back to top]

[back to Ajaria main]

© EurasiaNet http://www.eurasianet.org