The FINANCIAL -- Local Elections will be held on October 21 nationally, and country’s population will select several hundred citizens, who will have to rule country together with government for the next 4 years. These elections are not going to bring any dramatic changes to the country.
Most interesting however is Tbilisi Mayoral Elections, where there are chances of second round. According to all respective surveys, Kakha Kaladze, representative of governing party is taking the lead. Kaladze until recently held positions of Minister of Energy of Georgia and Vice Prime Minister of Georgia. In addition, he certainly is the only Georgian football player who won all prestigious tournaments while playing abroad.
Q. What is your opinion on foreign investments in Tbilisi?
A. Foreign investments in Tbilisi is critical for the city and the people, to help generate economic growth, create jobs, and bring life into the city. Tbilisi is a great city, and a welcoming city. We continue to a strong increase of foreigners who come to visit, but who also want to invest which helps create new small and medium sized business. This not only creates jobs, but expands the Tbilisi budget which will help to develop the city. Tbilisi has always been the crossroad between the west and east trade and business. Our doors are always open for investors and tourists, and has been proven to be a safe place to invest and travel.
Q. There has been an increase in violent crimes reported by foreigners in recent years, along with several political actions by ultranationalist and neo-Nazi groups, including in Tbilisi, in recent years. What will you do to reduce crime in Tbilisi?
A. These reports are overblown. Tbilisi is one of the safest cities in the world, just look at any of the statistics and international surveys on crime. We are working every day to continue having one of the safest cities in the world. Historically Tbilisi has always been city for guests and people from diverse religious backgrounds, tolerant and secure environment for everyone- this is historic wealth of our capital, and makes our city unique throughout the region.
Nevertheless, we are conscious of those fundamentals that give rise to ultranationalist groups here in Georgia and throughout the world—some of the most important causes being low economic development and low incomes.
Therefore we understand why maintaining economic growth, creating good paying jobs, and raising the standards of living aids in maintaining our low crime rate and marginalizing these ultranationalist movements from society.
Photo By Giorgi Abdaladze
Q. Traffic in Tbilisi appears to be increasing which is bad for air quality and the livability of the city. What will you do to reduced traffic congestion in the city?
A. We need to reduce traffic. Clean and efficient transportation is critical to the quality of life in the city. We have a strategy to address transportation problem from several sides which includes: establishing a traffic management system, expanding public transportation, and building a network of bridges and overpasses to alleviate traffic. Our country is expanding and attracting more people, which we are very thankful for, but what we have today is the planning from previous century and does not satisfy today’s challenges; therefore, we have to have strategic planning to ensure today’s problems will be resolved for the decades to come.
Q. What will you do to improve air quality and protect ecological spaces?
A. Having a clean and environmentally friendly city is something I strongly believe in. Traffic is the single largest source of pollution in Tbilisi, which is an important reason why we have made efficient transportation such an important part of our platform. But we also need to create more green spaces and I am committed to improving and expanding green spaces in the city and curbing pollution. We will also introduce improved monitoring of air pollution levels in the city. When I say Tbilisi – A City Full of Life, this puts the environment first. We need a city that has smart development and breaths clean air — creates such healthy living condition for citizens. Creating strict control for pollution and creating green spaces are one of the main components for this.
Q. Here is very straightforward question – who’s going to win the election?
A. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Tbilisi to determine who they want to be the next mayor. I am committed to working hard for the people and have a concrete plan to bring real results and a City Full of Life. Although most of the other candidates are good people and with good ideas, I know I have the experience and ability to actually make these ideas come to life and I hope the people of Tbilisi will allow me to work for them.
Q. Do you have anything else to add?
A. Tbilisi is such a great international city that offers beauty, history, entertainment, and investment opportunities. This is why I want to be a part of the city’s development, to ensure that Tbilisi becomes a City Full of Life. I reached success as football player, businessman and minister, where I took part in success of political battle of my people.
Nevertheless, I want my greatest success to be developing Tbilisi into a world class city. Kind of city, where there is clean, green space, where street visuals are pleasing for eye, where investors are coming with a great pleasure, where there are no hardships and where there are high standards of living. In general, this is the city full of life!
My goal is to make Tbilisi attractive and comfortable for the people, which will in turn attract tourist and investors.
Public discussions with construction industry representatives about urban planning of the city is particularly important, and has been seriously lacking in Tbilisi. Population should know the projects that will become part of Tbilisi in the near future. It is important to know what role companies will take in developing green spaces and recreational zones and what kind of environment they are going to offer to Tbilisians.
I am pleased to welcome the construction forum that is planned in November, and I am calling on all interested people to join URBAN Georgia – Forum to provide input in making Tbilisi a City Full of Life. (More info to be found at: https://urbantbilisi.eventgrid.com/)