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Saakashvili is afraid of losing Javakheti?2013-02-08 17:46
The other day, "Javakhk Diaspora of Russia" proposed to create a Armenian-populated Georgian region Samtskhe-Javakheti free economic zone (FEZ). The idea was heavily criticized by the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili. He considers this initiative secessionist. "This initiative is aimed at the creation of an administrative unit in Javakheti. If this happens, further they would require more autonomy of the unit, and at the next stage - the independence and separation from Georgia", Saakashvili said.
The political sector of Armenia has sounded fairly cautious comments about the proposal for the establishment of FEZ in Javakheti, as well as about sharp protest of Saakashvili. As noted by observers, this is primarily due to the new political reality in Georgia. Yerevan refrains from commenting on national issues, which is very emotionally perceived in Georgia.
Proposal of the NGO "Javakhk Diaspora of Russia" may be seen as a good wish, and nothing more. This was stated in a conversation with GTimes reporter by the Armenian MP from the ruling Republican Party, Chairman of the organization "Javakhk" Shirak Torosyan. According to Torosyan, now, when the political agenda of the new government of Georgia even doesn't include this issue, it's not worth to talk about this. "The question must be considered in the sphere of competence of the Georgian authorities. They should make the final decision", he stressed.
Establishment of FEZ is pointless
Georgian experts consider inappropriate granting Javakheti the FEZ status. "Now in Georgia, there is only one FEZ, established in the port city of Poti, operating effectively. There is an increase in investment, there is an operator. Similar areas are operating near Tbilisi and Kutaisi, but they are ineffective", professor of the Tbilisi State University Emzar Dzhegerenaya said in an interview with GTimes.
Experts believe that even if a free economic zone operates in Javakheti, it would not give anything to the local people or the country as a whole. "FEZ won't increase the investment attractiveness of the region and cannot have a positive impact on the socio-economic situation of the local population. Georgia already has low tax rates, and the establishment of FEZ in Samtskhe-Javakheti will be meaningless step. The authorities are unlikely to go on this", Dzhegerenaya said.
Another Georgian expert Ramaz Sakvarelidze finds it difficult to say how the FEZ can affect the socio-economic situation of the local population. "There are no specifics. Everything depends on what provisions will be included in the law", said the expert shortly.