Israeli no more tempted by Georgian gold mine26.05.2009 | 17:55
Israel is one of the most active investors in Georgia has narrowed down investments in Georgian economy. Head of joint business chamber Itsik Moshe accounts it for political instability in the country that scares entrepreneurs away. But obviously this is not the only reason. Trends in Big Politics could affect business people: differences between Israel and the USA and rapprochement with Russia.
Israel stopped investing money in Georgia, chairman of joint business chamber Itsik Moshe stated recently. "Over the recent period no new investor has come to the Georgian market", - Itsik Moshe says. Last year Georgia got 100 million dollars of investments from Israel, he remarked. However according to official statistics Israel wasn't in the list of 5 most generous friends. Business Georgia reports that according to last year's figures the leading investors in the Georgian economy were the United Arab Emirates (306.5 mln dollars), the USA (167 mln dollars), Turkey, Great Britain and the Netherlands. In total the country received over 1.5 bln dollar investments, which is less than the figures of 2007 but is not that bad in the light of the financial crisis.
As for Israel the economic ties grew much better last year. There were preconditions for that. Many Georgian Jews emigrated to the country of Christian relics. The representatives of a pushful nation had a lot to do in Georgia packed with American money. For example Igal Poretsky from Israel renovated Tbilisi's main hotel - Marriott in 2002. According to IzRus it has become the only 5-star hotel in the capital.
But Georgia sought strategic partnership with Israel too. "Everyone knows that Jews and Georgians have been coexisting peacefully for 2 thousand years and the relations are ideal, but now it's not enough", - Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili stated in 2007, Weekly news (Israel) writes. He asked Jerusalem to share the technologies helping to redirect Georgia's agrarian economy into an industrial one. Bezhuashvili was especially interested in cooperation in the military and industrial sphere. By that time Elbit company (Israel) successfully practiced upgrading SU-25 jets on order from the Georgian government. Simultaneously Israel kept a jealous eye on Tbilisi making contacts with the enemies of the State of Israel. Arabian businessmen had no problems buying Georgian lands and companies - they do it still. Iran was quick to react to Saakashvili's appeal to help with gas supplies following the accident in 2006. But Georgians managed to convince the Israelis of the sincere friendship. Israel continued cooperation in military sphere shipping arms almost up to fatal August 2008.
Immediately after the war in South Ossetia the Israelis got involved in business activates in Georgia even more willingly than before. According to the media this May, over the last 8 months they have invested more money in the country than over previous 8 years. Georgia has become "a gold mine" for adventurous Jews, IzRus reports with reference to Ediot Akhronot newspaper. There were two flags blowing over the refugee camp under construction in Gori. While one company was building houses, another Israeli company was laying a motorway connecting Tbilisi with Gori. According to Calcalist newspaper almost a third of the 7 billion dollars the USA will donate as an aid to Saakashvili's government will be spent on Israeli contractors. The biggest of them are Georginvest Company constructing a district of 12 skyscrapers in a Tbilisian suburb and a tourist zone at the Black Sea shore; Rilon erecting a trade and residential complex in Tbilisi; businessman Shmuel Plato-Sharon, the owner of thousands of hectares of land, an electric power production plant and a fashionable residential complex. "The war has created a vacuum; many local contractors broke down, failed to cope with the reconstruction tasks. So the Israelis bailed out the whole restoration projects for the prices of land lots. Quick restoration and foreign currency inflow were a sign to Israelis that Georgia in fact was "the goose that lays the golden eggs" - Sagiv David, investment manager in Georgia said in his interview with Ediot Akhronot.
It was reported in mid May that the Israeli companies were planning to invest about 150 mln dollars more in Georgia including construction works in Tsavkisi, Digomi, Okrakana, the Basalet lake and the Tbilisian sea areas. According to Business Georgia the Ministry of Economic Development of Georgia made a presentation of the country's travel opportunities for the Israeli journalists. They were "enchanted by Georgia" promising to lure "thousands of tourists here". And then suddenly the Israel's plans change. Why? It is believed the reason for such a narrow curve is a tricky political situation in the country. "Latest events in Georgia breed apprehension and fear among investors", - Itsik Moshe directly states.