Sunday 19th of January 2020, 16:38 CET
Adjara suffers blockade
March 16, 2004
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on January 18, 2020

Sea and air blockade
Adjarian leadership as well as residents of the Autonomous Republic already suffers economic sanctions imposed by the central authorities on March 16. President Saakashvili announced on late on March 15 land, sea and air blockade of defiant Adjarian Autonomy, in a bid "to exhaust Adjarian regime's resources in two weeks."

Entry denied
Around ten ships were barred on Tuesday from berthing Batumi port, as vessels of the Georgian coast guard are on round-the-clock patrolling. Banks are also banned from operating in the Adjarian Autonomy.
"The ships willing to berth in the Batumi port were warned that entry is denied and now these ships will berth in the port of Poti [coastal town just north of Adjara]," Badri Bitsadze, chief of Georgian border guard department told reporters.
According to the decree issued by the President Saakashvili on March 16 the ships will be allowed to berth to port of Batumi only after the President's approval. Batumi port declared force majeure and announced it was unable to fulfill contracts.

"Abashidze alarmed"
Adjarian leader, who hosts Moscow's Mayor Yuri Luzhkov in Batumi at the moment, is concerned over cutting sea route to Batumi. Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania said that the Adjarian leader held phone conversation with him twice on March 16. "He seems to be very alarmed by the central authorities' moves. He thought that we would only make statements and would not have enforced our decisions," Zurab Zhvania told reporters in Poti.
"Autonomy is in total isolation due to Abashidze's irresponsible policy," Premier Zurab Zhvania, who chairs Poti-based anti-crisis center to tackle Adjarian tensions, told reporters on March 16.

Banking suspended
Meanwhile, President of the National Bank of Georgia Irakli Managadze announced on March 16, about suspending banking operations in the Adjara Autonomous Republic, as a part of economic sanctions against the region.
The National Bank withdrew license of the Batumi-based Maritime Bank. The Adjarian authorities made all the financial transactions exclusively via the Maritime Bank, which is a powerful financial foothold for the Adjarian leadership.
Irakli Managadze also said that all the branches of the commercial banks operating in Georgia were ordered to stop operating in the Autonomous Region.
The bank accounts of organizations linked to the Adjarian leadership have also been frozen.

President Saakashvili said that the sanctions are only against the Adjarian authorities and not against the Adjarian population. However, it seems that the local also suffer from blockade.
It is not known yet how the pensions and salaries will be distributed in the region, as the banks are banned from operating in Adjara. Reports say prices went up in the capital of Adjara Batumi.
Adjarian authorities imposed an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.

International efforts
International efforts are under way to defuse tensions between Batumi and Tbilisi. Following interventions by Washington, Moscow, Ankara and a visiting chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Georgian President said on March 15 that international community expressed support to Georgia's territorial integrity.
Mikheil Saakashvili held phone conversations with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"He - Secretary Powell urged President Saakashvili not to allow this situation in Adjara to escalate," Adam Ereli, a deputy spokesman of the U.S. Department of Sate said on March 15.

Turkey backs Saakashvili
Turkish Foreign Minister said on March 15 that Turkey supports Georgia's territorial integrity. He said "Adjara is part of Georgia and stability in the Caucasus is in the interest of Turkey and the region."

Russia neutral
Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vladimir Chkhikvishvili told reporters after the meeting with Georgian Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze on March 16, that Moscow "is neutral" in Adjara crisis.
Russian diplomat also said that Russian militaries, deployed at Batumi military base, "are ordered to remain in base and maintain neutrality."

Azerbaijan concerned about oil pipeline
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev also expressed concern over the recent tensions in Adjara and did not rule out developments in Adjara "may negatively influence" construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline (BTC). The U.S.-backed and BP-led strategic BTC pipeline is due to transport Azeri oil to Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan via Georgia. The route of the pipeline stretches around couple of hounded kilometers away from the Adjarian capital Batumi.
Sources in BP Tbilisi office told Civil Georgia that closure of borders with Adjara made it impossible to transport already shipped pipes from Batumi port to the place of construction.
However, as the source said, this will not cause a major delay of construction of the Georgian section of the BTC.
Poti (Georgia) City
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Zhvania, Zurab (M) Politician Georgia
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