At the sitting of the Government’s Economic Council, held on 20 January 2014, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, heard the report delivered by the Economic Council’s team. Several issues were on the agenda of the sitting including the improvement of the investment environment and the economic indicators of the current year. In the course of the discussion the Prime Minister stated: “The first issue is the forming of a working group commissioned to reform investment legislation in pursuance of improving the investment environment. The second is the Law of Georgia on Property of Special Importance. As you are well aware, the notion of strategic objects was discarded and to my information, the list of strategic objects has been abolished. We introduce an initiative to renew the list of strategic objects and let the Government forward the said list to the Parliament for approval.”FactCheck
took interest in the given statement and inquired about its accuracy.
The Law of Georgia (adopted in 2003) on Engineering-Geodetic Control and Safety of Strategic Objects of Special Importance offers a definition of the notion of strategic objects recognised as especially important: the title refers to objects (buildings-constructions) which are strategically and functionally affecting state security and defence, territorial-spatial organisation, cultural heritage, economy, environment and natural resources.
The list of special objects was approved by the Georgian Government in compliance with the Law of Georgia on Privatisation and Transfer with the Right of Use of State Property and Property of a Local Self-governing Unit (adopted in 1997). The list of strategic objects of special importance was compiled in 2003 based upon Ordinance No. 58 of the Minister of Urbanisation and Construction. The said list combined 21 points and included:oil trunk pipelines, natural gas pipelines, water pipelines, high voltage power transmission lines; hydro, thermal and nuclear power plants, main motorways, the telecentre building and all TV and communications towers as well as bridges, tunnels, the metropolitan, the railway station, airport and seaport constructions. The list also covered performance and concert halls, libraries and the buildings of higher educational institutions and universities and sporting or medical establishments.
The abovementioned list is given in the Law of Georgia on Engineering-Geodetic Control and Safety of Strategic Objects of Special Importance as well and includes the following:
a) Oil trunk pipelines, natural gas pipelines and water pipelines
b) Main motorways (I and II categories)
c) High voltage power transmission lines (35 KW and higher) and substations (110 KW and higher)
d) Hydro, thermal and nuclear power plants
e) Bridges, tunnels and viaducts
f) Railway and metropolitan buildings
g) Telecentre buildings and all TV and communications towers
h) Reservoir and melioration constructions
i) Regional and city cleaning constructions
j) Buildings of enterprises employing radioactive and/or toxic substances
k) Buildings of airports, railway stations, bus terminals, sea ports
l) Industrial, scientific-construction, military, customs and frontier buildings in the service of state security
m) Imprisonment and custodial buildings
n) Sport buildings designed for at least 5,000 spectators
o) Buildings of foreign representations and building complexes (embassy, consulate, mission, representation, cultural centre)
p) Buildings designated for the legislative and executive branches of government
q) All buildings designated for state theatres, concert and performance halls
r) Buildings of state libraries, archives and museums
s) Buildings and building complexes of higher educational institutions
t) Buildings and building complexes of hotels, sanatoriums and medical institutions accommodating 300 persons or more
u) Buildings designated for banks and stock exchanges
The said law, adopted in 2003, was recognised invalid on 8 April 2010. Two years prior to that event, however, in 2008, the government shortened the list of strategically important objects. The title of the list was modified as well. Prior to the shortening of the list, its title was Strategic Objects of Special Importance. After it was shortened, the title was reformulated as Property of Special Importance. In accordance with the Government Decree No. 93 issued on 8 April 2008 only the following five objects were included on the list:
- Take-off and landing strip of Senaki airfield
- Take-off and landing strip of Marneuli airfield
- New (military) port of Poti (wharf, hydro-technical constructions, lights, waters)
- Poti seaport lighthouse, lights and waters
- Batumi seaport lighthouse, lights and waters
As of today, the list of state property of special importance is regulated by the Law on State Property (adopted on 21 July 2010). As can be gathered from Article 4 Paragraph 6 of the Law, the Georgian Government maintains the authority of approving the List of State Property of Special Importance.As FactCheck
was informed by Tea Bolkvadze, Head of the Department of Public Relations at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, at present, consultations are still ongoing concerning the criteria of the strategic objects and the approval of the new list and so at this stage it is still unknown precisely which objects will be included on the new list of strategic objects. We also inquired whether or not the government had any intention to differentiate between the notions of state properties of special importance and strategic objects. In the quest for an answer we addressed the Agency of State Property operating at the Ministry of Economy but received no response to our query from the unit.
It is also to be noted that the Georgian political spectrum is far from being in agreement on the matter of the new list of strategic objects. According to representative of the Parliamentary opposition, Zurab Japaridze, the existence of strategic objects is not justified in the state economy and such an approach can be employed solely in the military field (Source: Georgian Public Broadcaster). A position contrary to this opinion is maintained in the Georgian Government; as stated by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, the list of strategic objects has to exist and it is an internationally recognised practice. According to the Minister, the state needs to have certain criteria distinguishing the objects whose alienation should abide special regulations. (Source: commersant.ge)
The List of Strategic Objects of Special Importance was compiled in 2003 based upon Ordinance No. 58 of the Minister of Urbanisation and Construction and in compliance with the Law of Georgia on Privatisation and Transfer with the Right of Use of State Property and Property of a Local Self-governing Unit. The list comprised 21 points. In 2008 the Government shrank the list of strategic objects and changed the title as well - the term “strategic objects” was taken out of the name of the list. Accordingly, the Prime Minister’s assertion about the absence of the term “strategic objects” and the eradication of the list in its principal form is accurate. However, the List of Objects of Special importance did exist in the last years and in line with the Government Decree No. 93 issued in 2008, the list included five objects.
Having studied the legislative documents, it is safe to say that the abovementioned two terms: “strategic object” and “object of special importance” are contextually almost identical notions. It should be mentioned herewith that the essence of the research is not the resemblance or difference between the terms but the extensiveness of the list of state properties recognised as possessing special importance. According to the new initiative, the Government seeks to enlarge the list whereas the previous government sought to diminish it.Taking into the consideration the circumstances laid out above, FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement: “The notion of strategic objects was discarded and to my information, the list of strategic objects has been abolished,” is HALF TRUE.