US official: Completion of Anaklia port project ‘in interest of all Georgians’

Kurt Volker, the executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership,  has said that completing the construction of Georgia’s Anaklia Deep Sea Port project is strategically important for the country and is in the interest of all Georgians.

However, speaking in an interview with Georgia Today, Mr Volker, also the US special envoy for Ukraine, warned against involving Chinese investors in the project.

“What they do is not about creating an open international trading order; they use preferential deals through state-owned companies to gain an advantage,” he stressed, adding that Georgia might end up losing a high degree of its independence.

Mr Volker said that the reason why Conti Group, a US investor, left the Anaklia Development Consortium was purely an issue of cost to money over time since the project was not moving forward.

“I did not find anyone who would disagree with the notion that the completion of this port is strategically important for Georgia,” he told Georgia Today. However, he added that there were “obviously issues” around financing the project, pointing to the differing stances of the Georgian government and the Consortium.

“Some form of public/private partnership with international investment is what’s going to be needed,” he noted.

Asked about Russian claims that the port could be used by NATO submarines, the US diplomat argued that this was “a typical example of how the Russian propaganda machine works. There’s nothing in this project that is driven by war considerations or the involvement of the US military.”

The construction of Anaklia Deep Sea Port is the largest infrastructure investment in Georgia’s history, aimed at creating a new deepwater port at the Black Sea capable of handling up to 10,000 vessels. The project was started in 2017 and was scheduled to be completed by 2021.

Photo: Anaklia Development Consortium