PHOTO FOCUS STORY PROMISES VS. RESULTS AT A GLANCE RELATED STORIES
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Once one of Georgia’ s most prosperous regions, Samegrelo’s economy rapidly degenerated following the 1993 civil war and sudden arrival of tens of thousands of refugees from Abkhazia. How have Tbilisi’ s plans to make peace with Abkhazia, stamp out corruption and repair Georgia’s failed energy system affected the region? Check out four promises and their results.

PROMISE / RESULT   1 of 4

PROMISE: 2004 - In March, President Saakashvili created the financial police to combat economic crime in Georgia. Eradicating corruption was a key Saakashvili campaign promise and continues to be his administration’s chief goal. Fighting crime became a top priority in Samegrelo, long a hotbed for smuggling and organized crime activities associated with the nearby breakaway region of Abkhazia.

RESULT: 2005 - On April 4, Zugdidi’s central bazaar, a major contraband retailer, was dismantled. The closure dealt a blow to Samegrelo’s illegal alcohol and cigarette trade. As of April, the financial police had seized over 1.2 million cartons of cigarettes and 200 tons of petrol in Samegrelo. Three mayors of the port city of Poti had been arrested for corruption, and paramilitary groups with ties to organized crime, such as Dato Shengelia’s Forest Brothers, had been disbanded

PROMISE / RESULT   2 of 4

PROMISE: 2004 - In a televised speech, Saakashvili promised the construction of a new 91-kilometer highway to connect Zugdidi with the regional towns of Chkhorutsku, Tsalenjikha and Senaki as a boost for economic development. The highway was scheduled for completion by November 23, 2005, the second anniversary of the Rose Revolution.

RESULT: 2005 - Construction on the Samegrelo highway was officially announced in April 2005 and patch work began that month on a few of the major roads in Zugdidi. One traffic light was installed in central Zugdidi, but only works when the electricity supply permits. Like most of Georgia, Samegrelo roads are disastrous and resurfacing cannot be accomplished overnight.

PROMISE / RESULT   3 of 4

PROMISE: 2005 - Saakashvili stated that 2006 would be the first year since 1992 that Georgia would suffer no blackouts. As part of its plan for ending the country’ s energy crisis, the government announced that Enguri power station would be closed on March 25, 2005 for long overdue repairs. That date was later postponed until May 10 – coincidently the last day of a trip by US President George Bush to Georgia.

RESULT: 2005 - May 10 came and went, with work on Enguri now postponed until 2006. High summer water levels reportedly accounted for the repair delay. Even once Enguri is repaired, however, experts say that Georgia will still need years to redevelop its energy resources and guarantee uninterrupted power supplies.

PROMISE / RESULT   4 of 4

PROMISE: 2004 - Saakashvili pledged to return Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Georgia through peaceful, political means, stating that Georgia cannot use violence to solve these conflicts because no democracy can go to war against its own people. “ Today, Georgia needs bridges not bases...roads and not rockets,” he told the United Nations in a September 21 speech.

RESULT: 2005 - The Georgian Defense Ministry began construction of a new military base in Senaki, Samagrelo. The base is designed to accommodate up to 3,000 servicemen. Construction will end in November 2005, for the second anniversary of the Rose Revolution. Meanwhile, talks continue about holding talks with Abkhazia, but no progress has been made towards a lasting peace settlement.

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