Georgia inaugurated new road in its southern regions on November 15, rehabilitated as part of the U.S. aid program, which, President Saakashvili said, was “a historic” road ending “an actual isolation” of Samtskhe-Javakheti region from rest of Georgia.
The road, which starts from south of Tbilisi, runs through Kvemo Kartli region to Akhalkalaki in Samtskhe-Javakheti region, where it branches off to the Turkish border (to already existing Kartsakhi border crossing point) and to the Armenian border. The road by-passes Georgia’s main east-west highway and is shorter route to reach southern parts of Samtskhe-Javakheti region from Tbilisi.
USD 209 million was spent on two-year rehabilitation works on the road with total length of 224 kilometers – the largest portion of the U.S. aid program to Georgia in frames of Millennium Challenge Account.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to the U.S. government,” Saakashvili told U.S. ambassador, John Bass, also present at the opening ceremony. “It took longer for the Americans to build this road, than it would have required for us, but they have been doing it very thoroughly… each meter was examined for quality in line with the international standards… This is the best quality road ever built in Georgia. That should be a standard for every new road in Georgia.”
After driving Toyota RAV4, which Saakashvili said was of his mother, on the new road, the President addressed thousands of local residents of Akhalkalaki, a predominantly ethnic Armenian populated town, saying at the outdoor rally that it was “a historic day for the entire Georgia.”
He said that three roads of key significance were built in Georgia in last couple of centuries; the one known as Georgian Military Road, which in its present form was built in 19th century to link Transcaucasus with the rest of Russian Empire and which Saakashvili described as the road "to enslave and colonize" Georgia and the entire Caucasus region; the second road, he said, was built through Roki Tunnel about twenty five years ago to link Russia's North Ossetian Republic with Georgia's Autonomous District of South Ossetia, which, Saakashvili said was the road, which Russia used to "disconnect" South Ossetia from rest of Georgia.
"And this is the third road, which is completely opposite to [road via] Roki Tunnel. This is the road of unity, unification of the Georgian regions," he said.
He said that these three roads were demonstration of different roles, played by Russia and the U.S. in Georgia.
"While one country [referring to Russia] built Georgian Military Road and Roki Tunnel, another country [referring to the United States] helped us to build this new road, hence helped us in strengthening Georgia," he said.