The argued that the expansion of Georgia’ Black Sea ports is of crucial importance for the whole region. It also marks an interesting development where Georgia, for the first time in many centuries, has a real opportunity to transform at least into a regional hub.
Never before has Georgia’s geopolitical position been so attractive for large businesses, transcontinental trade, and more. Though it is fashionable to say that the country always was a part of the famous “Silk Road” stretching from China to various parts of the Middle East and Europe, Georgia rarely featured there in antiquity or medieval periods. If the country did, it was only for shorter period of times.
Furthermore, in the last two centuries, the Russians essentially blocked all international routes they deemed harmful to their own interests. Georgia was thus always subject to whims of its larger neighbours.
This is not to deny that the Georgian monarchy in the Medieval period or various Georgian principalities after the dissolution of the country in 1490 did not participate in regional trade. They did. Just that level of this involvement was not great enough.
Even under the Russians, when in the 1870s Baku was being transformed into a regional hub through development of the oil field, the Georgian territory was transformed into a transit land with Batumi serving as an export/import port.
Still, however, all of this was very much subject to the Russian interests and could easily be changed, to Georgia’s detriment.
Thus, it could be argued that for the first time in several centuries, Georgia’s current geopolitical circumstances and those of global powers such as China, US and the EU converge on the significance of the Georgian Black Sea ports as a transit post for Chinese goods to Europe and vice versa.
True, there is plenty of work to be done in and around Anaklia to cement this nascent transit advantage of Georgia on the global map. But success has already been achieved and the Georgian governments will always be interested in further development of Anaklia, Poti and Batumi.
This interest comes out of Georgia’s current geopolitical circumstances where Russian pressure from the north propels Tbilisi to seek ways to counter-balance Moscow. In that sense, the success of the Anaklia-Poti-Batumi line is directly linked to how strongly Georgia’s position would be defended internationally.
We, Georgians, have been fighting for independence and its preservation for decades, but a real possibility to be important enough for the outer world to defend us lies in our ability to be a hub for transcontinental trade which has been developing across the Eurasian continent for the last decade. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, European Union’s enlargement around the Black Sea these create favourable conditions for Tbilisi.
Thus, the interest Europeans, Americans and the Chinese have shown so far through investments in Georgia’s Black Sea shore is indeed very promising. It is this foreign financial involvement that could actually transform Georgia’s international position, where every neighbour (including the Russians) will have to preserve peace for international trade routes to operate smoothly.
Seen from this regional and international context, Anaklia will continue to be a focus of this and next Georgian governments. There are simply too many foreign actors involved, making it extremely difficult to undermine the project. Nowadays, development of Georgia’s Black Sea ports equals the enhancement of the country’s international position.