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Saakashvili defends style of new developments in Georgia

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, July 22
At the opening of Batumi Radisson Blu Hotel on Wednesday Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili criticized art and cinema gurus Tamar Amashukeli and Gogi Gvakharia for their articles about the development process in the country. The President stressed that he neither skis nor swims for his pleasure but wants to make everyone realize the value of our country. Emphasizing how Georgians are proud of Georgia’s sights, Saakashvili read an extract from Amashukeli’s article where the latter criticized the approach of the Government towards the main cities.

The article named “Political architecture or architectural kitsch” published at Tskheli Shokoladi (Hot Chocolate) defined the PR architectural kitsch (tasteless copy of style of art or worthless imitation of art of recognized value) as the source of “political promotion and ephemeral illustration of prosperity”. “It doesn’t matter how many mansards they put on [buildings at] Davit Agmashenebeli Avenue - it won’t become Paris anyway; or even tens of Piazza [Squares] won’t make coffee soaked Batumi the second Switzerland. But why should they look like them? Or who needs such architectural imitation?” the author asked in her article.

Stressing he didn’t at all want to criticize anyone Saakashvili doubted the “mental ability” of the writer calling her “a classical archetype of Russian slave in Georgia” who doubts the capabilities of her nation. Highlighting that new hotels like the Radisson or Sheraton are aimed at breaking such “slavish psychology” the President compared Batumi with the famous French seaside cities. “In 2-3 years Batumi will have better public spaces, cultural centers, transportation system and comfort than Nice or Cannes,” he stated.

“The President had criticized me in a very incorrect manner – the main idea of the story was to emphasize the peculiarity of our country which is more special for me than any other place,” Amashukeli explained her article and stressed that even the tourists arriving to Georgia seek something different and exotic from the rest of the world not another Paris for example.

Citing Gogi Gvakharia's blog about the protest against the penalties on public kissing in Tbilisi Saakashvili read the passage where the author described a messy and overcrowded square near Peace Bridge on one evening. “The new park was full of people. I do not understand exactly what they were doing. I really do not understand why this is a pleasant stroll. I do not understand how happy these people are,” Gvakharia had said about the people walking around the city with no real purpose. But emphasizing Gvakharia’s “intellectualism” the President stressed people like him can never understand such things but those who do realize everything carry on walking forward. Wondering why the President of Georgia participates in hotel opening ceremonies Gvakharia doubted that Saakashvili hadn’t fully read his story but cited the paragraph by chance.

Emphasizing the importance of the speed for tourism development in the country Saakahsvili welcomed the “architectural masterpieces” which would become the symbols of Georgia’s prosperity and better future. He said the new Radisson Hotel in Batumi would be followed by other international brands like Holiday Inn, Kempinski, Novotel, Hilton, Conrad, Ritz-Carlton and others. “I am saying this for those who do not believe that everything is possible in Georgia and for those who do not believe that Georgia is really a special country,” he stated.

Worrying that poverty and unemployment are still common in the seaside resort the President forecast great changes for the city. New cheap airlines, cruise companies, highway would all attract tourists and help the citizens. Currently about 124,000 people live in the city according to the state statistics office but Saakashvili supposed the number would increase to 200 000 by early next year and to 500 000 by 2015.

“My goal is to make all these developments irreversible and make Batumi an affordable resort for everyone," Saakashvili stated. “The country with 20% of its territory occupied, the country which is threatened every day has turned into an example as one of the most dynamically developing and reform-making countries in the world,” he said stressing that this has all been achieved by the coordination of the Government which is absolutely uncorrupted.

Lasha Tugushi, Editor-in-Chief of Rezonansi and the Chair of the Georgian Press Association expressed concern at the lack of freedom in the media in our country. Tugushi said that everyone from the journalist to the President has a right to oppose some idea or suggestion. Wondering why every different or critical opinion is being considered pro-Russian in our country, he encouraged the President to get more detailed information about the problems the media is facing nowadays (e.g. the case of photographers, etc) rather than cite the articles. “Russia’s political position is well-known to everyone, it’s a fact that they have occupied the Georgian territories but it is strange to unite critical opinions under the Russian umbrella,” Tugushi told The Messenger.