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Ajarian government on hospital beds14.12.2010 | 17:04
The government of Georgia's last autonomous region of Ajaria is moving to work in a hospital. As reported, lands occupied by the officials in the center of Batumi could be sold at a profit to investors. Since the government yields little income unlike travel industry, then the seat of government must be moved to the outskirts. Besides, what's the point in Georgia having Ajarian autonomy with its government and parliament?..
Maintaining the dummy government of Ajaria costs a lot to the state. Besides, the sense of having the autonomy in Ajaria is not totally clear. The government occupies the city's most glamorous locations while the result is zero. Frеe lands will be sold as hotel construction sites.
The government officials are lucky, they say: they will remain in the city after the transfer. And the Supreme Council is transferred to a more remote place - a coastal village of Chakvi near Kobuleti. Ajarian bureaucrats will be given two buildings for their work. This is a clinical hospital in Batumi and the building of a decrepit medical care institution in Chakvi.
Expensive suits of Batumi clerks will smell of medicine. Very soon deputies will have to pick rooms in former hospitals. Hmm, will that process correspond to the medical hierarchy? Like chair of the Supreme Council will sit in the chief doctor's room, deputies will occupy surgeons' rooms and the supply manager will go to the general practitioner's office.
However, most probably, deputies in Chakvi will have a new building. One hospital is too small, and there is no other suitable place in the village. Chakvi is a most ordinary hole albeit on the Black Sea coast.
GEL 650 thousand is allocated to the transfer of deputies in the budget. But central authorities are undeservingly hard on the parliament of Ajaria. For instance, the parliamentarians planned to buy a new minibus that was estimated at GEL 70 thousand. But the center rejected the idea and the vehicle was crossed out of the budgetary expenses. There is an overall budget cut of GEL 100 thousand in 2011 as compared with this year.
The parliament of Ajaria has 90 employees and only 18 deputies. The government personnel is much more numerous. But as mass media report, only the department for travel industry development really works.
At the time of Aslan Abashidze Ajaria was more than just an autonomy. The union with the rest of Georgia was more like a confederation and Abashidze never coordinated his activities with central administration. He took advantage of geography and the chaos in the country to be as independent as possible. And he was. Batumi took over most profitable functions of central authorities.
Here is a short description of almost complete independence of the Ajarian autonomy by the beginning of 2004: existence of the regional election committee that held elections outside of pan-Georgian election campaigns, from late 1999 Batumi stopped paying into the country's budget; the customs - one more source of budget replenishment - was no more subordinate to Tbilisi. Sarli customs checkpoint on the border with Turkey was transferred to the jurisdiction of the autonomous republic, and since then, as Georgia claims, Ajaria sent only 30% of customs earnings to the state budget. Besides, Batumi was pursuing an independent policy in military sphere maintaining friendship with the Russian military base, solved economic problems and created external contacts. Attempts of Tbilisi businesses to penetrate Batumi were blocked by Abashidze.
Ajaria was just a step away from sovereignty for many years. Unlike the rest of Georgia as of 2003, the region had no problems with electricity supply, the port operated well, and even pensioners were paid their pensions.
Overthrow of Abashidze was one of young president Saakashvili's most successful operations. Nothing could help the leader of Ajaria: neither his own armed groups, nor the exploded bridge on the central highway that connects Ajaria and Georgia. The success made Misha so proud of himself that entering the "Ajarian lion"'s room the Georgian president stated: "The next room I will enter will be Bagapsh's room".
After the crisis in 2004 Batumi lost functions of an independent state and the deputy corps shrank from 30 to 18. Still, the point in having the autonomy is undoubted. The autonomous republic is like an old tram: it has little use but looks marvelous!
Tbilisi ideologists often repeat that Ajarian autonomy was created by Russians who allegedly laid time bombs under the future statehood when they experimented with various kinds of self-administration in the territory of Georgia.
But things are not so poetic. The exclusive status of the territory inhabited by Georgian Muslims was the result of Kar peace treaty in 1920. Then Georgia reacquired Ajaria with its Islamized population and Turkey got the western part of historical Armenia. Demanding a special status for Ajaria the Turks tried to fence the fruit of their assimilation policy off the rest of Georgia.