New Road Increases Svaneti Accessibility
By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, September 14A new, short motorway was ceremonially opened in Svaneti on September 13. The motorway, which cuts travel from Zugdidi to the Georgian highlands to only an hour and 45 minutes, is aimed at attracting more visitors. As the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said at the opening ceremony, “this is a road of the future leading to Mestia - the most beautiful place in the country.” The president welcomed innovations in Svaneti, which, he claimed, have been achieved through “long-term consideration and planning.”
“I wanted to shake hands with each and every road worker on my way to Svaneti, because I know how hard they had been working on the site,” Saakashvili said stressing that the construction activities had finished only the night before. The president emphasized that the less time it took to finish the motorway the greater quality it was. “We do everything of the highest quality but we simply have no time to relax,” he added.
A 30-meter long bridge connecting two parts of Mestia was also opened on the day together with a new eight-apartment hostel and a modern police building. The House of Justice, designed by a German architect, would provide Svaneti's people with all necessary public and civil services in one unique space.
“Some people wonder why the Georgian President is interfering in such activities. But I would stress that it’s exactly a president’s prerogative,” Saakashvili said stressing that Georgians live in the best place in the world.
Praising the people of Svaneti for their great intellect and hard-work, Saakashvili welcomed the hospitality and politeness they express towards tourists in order to promote their region. Suggesting that Svaneti would soon become the richest part of the country, the president stressed the necessity of providing new jobs for the local people as a pre-condition for further prosperity.
Talking about the ancient and beautiful natural setting of Svaneti, the president spoke of the region as “the most European part of the country” which clearly showed that Georgia should be part of the European Union. Encouraging everyone to stop feeling depressed and place hope in the future, the president emphasized the great strength the region had maintained over the centuries. Saakashvili then highlighted the “new” Svaneti with its innovative buildings and services and suggested that it would regain its past prominence within Georgia. Emphasizing the amazing climate of the region, Saakashvili said that from the moment a person gets to Svaneti he or she immediately feels like a Svan and starts thinking like the local people do.