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Benetton’s bad form in the eyes of Tbilisi2009-05-29 16:34
As GeorgiaTimes found out recently, the people in Abkhazia chuckle over the Georgians' late reaction to the clothing store opened three weeks ago by the world-famous Italian company Benetton at the Sukhum quay. The staff of the four stores opened in Tbilisi by the same company went "on vacation" in protest. The reason is that Benetton's Turkish partner had not applied to the Georgian authorities for an approval. The scandal has reached the international level, threatening the Turkish-Georgian relationship.
On Wednesday, all the Benetton stores opened by the Turkish department of the Italian company in Tbilisi were closed. According to Rosbalt, there are signs on the doors reading "Closed in protest". "We would rather suffer a loss than allow a world-famous company to represent its brand in the occupied territory", - Nino Tsiklauri, Benetton representative in Georgia stated. According to her, an official letter has been sent to the company's head office in Italy requesting to explain why the company decided to open a store in Abkhazia without the Georgian party's prior approval.
A special briefing on the issue was even held by Minister of Economic Development of Georgia Lasha Zhvania, the Business Georgia portal reports. The official said that he was going on a four-day visit to Turkey to meet with the State Minister on the trade issues and discuss the current situation with him.
"The Turkish private company will not sacrifice the amicable relationship between Georgia and Turkey in order to sell several hundreds of Benetton T-shirts", - Zhvania hopes. Judging by his words, he is quite sure that the Abkhazians are not rich enough to buy the expensive Italian knitted goods.
Being the market economy supporter, Zhvania perfectly understands that the state cannot interfere in private business. However, in this case he insists that his colleagues should cut short Benetton's activity "which runs contrary to the Georgian national interests".
At this point, the Georgian interests turned out to significantly disagree with the businessmen's economical interests. Let us remind you of a one-million expatriate community living in Turkey and longing to see their Motherland prosperous and independent. It makes clear why the Turkish businessmen "have a strong intention to deploy the business in Abkhazia", - Kavkazski Uzel reported referring to the Hurriyet Turkish newspaper.
"Abkhazia is a door to the historical Silk Road seaway. It is strategically important due to its well-developed tourism and sea routes", - Head of Benetton Turkish Department Zeinep Selgur states.