Saakashvili sets out on dollar hunt14.03.2011 | 13:26
Today is the first day of Mikheil Saakashvili's trip to the United States with the Georgian president planning to discuss investments into the republic's economy with US businessmen and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, WMF director. The next item on Saakashvili's agenda is a meeting with multi-billionaire Donald Trump. GeorgiaTimes asked Valery Khomyakov, director general of National Strategy Council and Sergey Demidenko, expert at the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Evaluations, if Saakashvili's campaign will be successful.
Mikheil Saakashvili talks about economy still more often these days. The reason is clear: Georgia is facing an outrageous price growth. No wonder the population is concerned over inflation. Meanwhile, the opposition dissatisfied with the current regime forecasts change of power to come about soon.
Saakashvili keeps excusing himself. At first he said that inflation in Georgia had begun as a result of China's progress. His new excuse is the growing oil prices. "Global situation is very difficult, - the Georgian leader said recently. - Oil prices are going up and they haven't hit the top. We have no good choice here: either it's high prices and economy in collapse, or high prices again and subsequent inflation".
Certain difficulties arise with Georgia's international partners as well. Firstly, the republic's external debt is USD 4.5 bn and as Georgian PM Nika Gilauri confesses soon it will reach USD 5 bn. Secondly, attempts of Vera Kobalia, minister for economy and sustainable development, to lure Western investors to Georgia have not brought visible results for Georgian holiday resorts.
The last hope of the authorities is Saakashvili's trip to the States where the president will try to present his country as a blessed land for investments. By all appearances, a lot will depend on Mikheil Nikolayevich's meeting with Donald Trump. The Georgian president met with the multi-billionaire at the time of his previous visit signing a mutual understanding agreement. If things go well, the document will serve as a basis for a contract to construct luxury residential complexes in Sakartvelo.
Sounds intriguing, but is this Saakashvili's only objective in the States? In a conversation with GeorgiaTimes correspondent Valery Khomyakov, National Strategy Council director general assumed that the Georgian leader's genuine objective is to understand the level of trust between the USA and Georgia. "I think all statements that Saakashvili goes to America to speak about Georgia's investment attractiveness, security and financial gain of investing in the republic are a cover-up, - he highlights. - After the change in US administration the attitude to Saakashvili's regime changed. It is not like at the time of George Bush. Another important thing is discussions over Russia's WTO entry. Apparently, this will be a key topic on the Georgian president's visit to Washington. Tbilisi sets forth conditions that Moscow can't accept: control of checkpoints on Russia's border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That is why I consider it likely that the US side will try to assert influence on Georgia to have it out of Russia's way toward the World Trade Organization".
Speaking about possible investments into Sakartvelo's economy, Khomyakov remarked that US businessmen won't rush to invest into a highly unstable country fraught with a new revolution. "Yes, Georgian people are great, and with a different situation the investment climate would be different too", - he says. - Until Georgian leaders change their attitude to Russia, investments will be on halt. Saakashvili must realize that".
Our second interlocutor Sergey Demidenko, expert at the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Evaluations, believes that the trip of the Georgian president is formal. "Saakashvili wants to show the level at which he is trying to settle contacts to revive the republic's economy". - This campaign needs adequate publicity, which is Saakashvili's meeting with Trump, I guess".
According to Demidenko, Georgia has no promising industry where US investments would flow to provide an adequate return. "Two things one can think of are agriculture and tourism, - he says. - But even if any agreements are reached, the initiative will not come from big enterprises. So I can't say that Saakashvili's visit will open the floodgates on US money to Georgia".