“The EU believes in a strong and prosperous Georgia, and that means a strong and prosperous Adjara. To this end the EU is Georgia's strongest development partner, with over 200 development programmes across key areas such as economic development and education, institutional development, environment and people to people contacts across the country, including in Adjara. It is my pleasure to visit beautiful Adjara, from the green hills of Keda where we are supporting economic opportunities for the local population, to the busting streets of Batumi where we are supporting the maritime sector, business and helping modernize the city with clean electric buses. I look forward to meeting Adjarians and finding out more about this rich and fascinating region” said Ambassador Hartzell.
Ambassador Hartzell’s visit started on Wednesday 19 May, with a meeting with Davit Gabaidze, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Adjara. The Supreme Council has received support by an EU funded, UNDP implemented project to develop and implement a multi-year Development Strategy and Action Plan and implement modern open governance principles.
On Thursday 20 May, Ambassador Hartzell visited Keda Municipality to see the results of the four-year, EU supported “Keda LEADER” project implemented by CENN. The project supported the local community to identify a local development strategy and provided funding to support local initiatives in line with the strategy. In total 97 development initiatives and helped create over 300 new jobs in the municipality of Keda. Ambassador Hartzell met the local community involved and visited six project sites in the municipality, including Dried fruit enterprise “Kerki”, Family hotel and winery “Château Iveri”, Luxury camping “Hill Inn”, Town Keda Public School, Veterinary clinic, Tourist’s cottages and winery “Shervashidzeebi’s Winery”. More information about the sites in a separate press release.
On Friday 21 May, Ambassador Hartzell held a series of visits in Batumi. These included:
A working meeting with the Director of LEPL Maritime Transport Agency (Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia), Tamar Ioseliani. The EU provides long term support to Georgia’s maritime sector, including assistance to develop Georgia’s first maritime strategy to further develop this strategic sector;
A visit to the Batumi State Maritime Academy, to meet the rector, Irakli Sharabidze, and students. With EU support, the academy is training seafarers that can work under international flags, including EU member states ones – since 2014 40% more Georgian seafarers are working under international flagged vessels;
Ambassador Hartzell also attended the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between the EU supported LINKS project implemented by UNAG, OSGF, IJH, and four vocational institutions in Adjara (Batumi State Maritime Academy, Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University, the vocational college ‘New Wave’ and the vocational college ‘Black sea’). The project aims to help Georgians get the right skills for the labour market, and the signing of MoUs with the vocational institutions aims at strengthening cooperation between different stakeholders of the LINKS project and improving access to quality education and skills development services.
“Modern Buses for Modern Batumi” - At an event hosted by Tornike Rizhvadze, Chairman of the Government of Adjara; Archil Chiqovani, Batumi Mayor, Levan Lazariashvili, Head of Transport Company, Ambassador Hartzell examined electric green buses in Batumi purchased through the Environment Partnership (E5P) Fund, of which the European Union is the largest contributor. The low-floor buses facilitate easier access for passengers including those with limited movement, the elderly and disabled, as well as for parents with pushchairs. The vehicles also reflect the EU’s commitment to environment friendly development, by improving the reliability, safety and efficiency of public transport while benefiting the environment by reducing emissions. Environment is one of the key development priorities of the EU in Georgia,
Ambassador Hartzell visited Dental Center ROGO in Batumi, which has benefitted from EU4Business support to set-up the largest and most technologically advanced dental service provider in Georgia. The center has invested in ultra-modern dental equipment, enabling the company to offer the highest standards in dental treatment services to its patients and enlarging the medical tourism industry of Georgia. Furthermore, the financial support helped ROGO adapt to Covid-19 needs, namely the center implemented strict hygiene regulations, as well as installed thermal screening equipment and modern ventilation system. The EU is the largest foreign supporter of private development in Georgia, with over 30,000 SMEs in Georgia receiving support in 2019.
Ambassador Hartzell also met with two civil society organisations supporting disabled communities, Coalition for Independent Living and Changes for Equal Rights. With EU support, the projects are managing Mobile Support Teams of professionals, who assist persons with disabilities on request. Initial support was provided as part of EU support against COVID-19 in Georgia, which amounts to over GEL 2 billion in the areas of health, social support and economic recovery.
EBRD, EU/E5P financed electric “green” buses in Batumi
Eight electric buses financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the multi-donor E5P fund, of which the EU is the largest contributor, arrived in Batumi last year.
The vehicles will improve the service for the city’s residents and visitors by increasing the reliability, safety and efficiency of public transport while benefiting the environment by reducing emissions. The low-floor buses will facilitate easier access for passengers including those with limited movement, the elderly and disabled, as well as for parents with pushchairs.
Thanks to a grant provided by the EU via the E5P Fund, passengers in Batumi are the first in the South Caucasus region to experience quiet, non-polluting electric buses. The modernization of urban transport is an integral part of the EU’s promotion of sustainable green development, through the reduction of air pollution and emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. The delivery of the buses is linked to a commitment by the Batumi municipality to optimize the city’s public transport and parking system, to allow for the new buses to bring their full environmental benefits.
The buses were purchased as part of a combined €5.5 million sovereign loan from EBRD to Georgia to be on-lent to the City of Batumi for the benefit of the Batumi Autotransport LLC, a municipal bus company and an E5P grant of over GEL 4 million (€1.5 million) to upgrade Batumi’s existing bus fleet to ensure improved environmental and operational performance.
The project is part of the EBRD’s Green Cities, which is a programme supporting municipal “green” investments, available across all of the Bank’s countries of operations. As part of the project, the EBRD also provided €0.8 million in technical cooperation funds to assist the development of a Green City Action Plan for Batumi, the corporate development and stakeholder participation programmes. The Green City Action Plan was developed with assistance of international consultants, and approved by the Batumi City Council on 16 October 2020.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Georgia. Since the start of its operations in the country, the Bank has invested over €4.11 billion in 258 projects in the financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors, with 80 per cent of these investments in the private sector.
Background information on E5P
The E5P is a €180 million multi-donor fund operating in the Eastern Partnership countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. The European Union is the largest overall contributor to E5P with committed funds of €70 million. For E5P in Georgia the EU has pledged €10 million which is boosted by additional commitments from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Taiwan Business EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the USA. The pledged funds are to help Georgia improve energy efficiency, contributing to energy security and economic competitiveness and policy dialogue, while having a positive impact on the environment.
The main objective of the E5P initiative is to use grants to leverage loans dedicated to municipal energy efficiency and environmental projects, for example the rehabilitation of water and wastewater systems, solid waste management, street lighting, local transport and the insulation of public buildings.
GEORGIA’S MARITIME IS MOVING CLOSER TO EUROPE
The EU has been supporting the development of the Georgian maritime sector through various projects and programs, addressing areas such as the reinforcement of navigational safety and security, protection of the marine environment, as well as introduction of the modern standards of education and training for international accreditation. These reforms are creating jobs, helping protect the environment and helping support the establishment of a sustainable maritime transportation system that will help Georgia become a key transit hub for the region.
Around 80% of goods in the world are being transported by sea. According to 2019 data, there was a record increase in the amount of containerized goods in the country (43%). Thanks to Georgian maritime sector, we get them uninterruptedly, even in the times of pandemic.
THE SEA IS THE FUTURE OF GEORGIA: EDUCATION AND JOB CREATION
■ Thanks to EU support, various structural, legislative and educational reforms have taken place in the Georgian maritime sector.
■ As a result of the EU-supported reforms in education and certification currently Georgian seafarers can be employed on a fleet sailing under 60 world flags, including 18 EU member states.
■ As a result, 40% more Georgian seafarers are now employed on the vessels sailing under the EU member State’s flag compared to 2015, ensuring the highest level of safety and social security.
■ Georgian seafarers’ contribution to the State budget has increased to approximately more than a half billion GEL annually.
GEORGIA’S MARITIME IS MOVING CLOSER TO EUROPE: INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK
■ Within the framework of the EU-funded project, EU experts completed work on the Georgian Maritime Transport Strategy document in 2020. At this stage, the document prepared by the UNDP expert is being prepared in accordance with the national legislation in order to be approved by the Government of Georgia.
In the short, medium and long term, the document will contribute to the orderly, sustainable and effective development of the maritime transport sector.
■ The Georgia has been successfully implementing EU directives and following the Association Agreement agenda: 80% of EU maritime legislation defined by AA is already in place, contributing to the safety, security, environmental protection, training and improvement of the working conditions in the sector.
■ A safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry is an essential component for future sustainable economic growth of the country with the vast majority of goods being imported by sea.
Modern Laboratory Equipment: In order to improve the Black Sea environment, the EU-supported project has provided Georgian experts with modern laboratory equipment and relevant trainings, which will enable them to monitor the environmental conditions and water quality of the Black Sea coast on a permanent basis.