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The initial part of the visit focused on the Akhalkalaki Local Action Group. Established with the assistance of an EU project implemented by GIPA, Mercy Corps, Elva Community Engagement and West Cork Development Partnership, the Local Action Group is composed of 30 local citizens from the Akhalkalaki's private sector, civil society and municipal government. The LAG agrees on a local development strategy and then funds local initiatives in line with its priorities.
Following the meeting, Ambassador Hartzell opened the Akhalkalaki Language Centre, which was established by the Alkalkalaki LAG with EU support, and which provides free intensive Georgian and English lessons to local residents.
The Ambassador then visited two of the 16 initiatives supported by the LAG so far:
The Ambassador, together with representatives of Akhalkalaki Municipal authorities, participated in the clean-up of Akhalkalaki Fortress, held to resonate with World Clean-Up Action day.
Finally together with Iurik Unanian, Mayor of Akhalkalaki, Ambassador Hartzell opened the first Europe Day in Akhalkalaki's central square. Over 1000 people attended from the region, “travelled” to the EU countries, got acquainted with local projects and obtained information about the EU-Georgia relations.