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The former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, on air on TV Rustavi 2’s broadcast, PS,

stated that he was planning to move Batumi’s airport to the village of Meria in the Ozurgeti Municipality because, unlike Batumi, the location is able to be accessed from both sides. The former President also mentioned that construction work was already started.

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

The airport in the village of Meria has been inactive since the 1990s. As stated by the airport’s former director, it was fully functional before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In a TV broadcast aired on 27 June 2012 on air on the Ninth Channel, damaged landing fields and demolished buildings were visible. On 28 September 2010, the then Governor of Guria, in his interview with Guria News,

stated that he was looking forward to the launch of the airport’s construction work in Meria.

On 2 November 2013, Mikheil Saakashvili took journalists by helicopter to show them around the projects which were no longer being implemented and underscored that construction on the airport in Meria had been stopped at the project design stage.

FactCheck

contacted every state organ presumed to have information about the airport construction project; namely, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and the Airport Management Agency with each of the aforementioned stating that such a project has not been launched.

Information on whether or not work has been started in order to relocate the airport to the village of Meria is also not available from the office of the United National Movement. Party member Giorgi Kandelaki confirmed the existence of the idea although he was unaware about the start of construction work. FactCheck

contacted the Leader of the United National Movement’s Ajara organisation, Levan Varshalomidze, who stated that a feasibility study in regard to the Meria airport had been launched according to his information. Specifically, a group of specialists participated in a field trip to study the area.

Conclusion

There were indeed some discussions to move Batumi’s airport to the village of Meria in the Ozurgeti Municipality during the Presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili. This has been confirmed by TV broadcasts. However, the construction has not officially started, even at the level of project design.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Mikheil Saakashvili’s statement is MOSTLY FALSE.