Ben Hodges: The Anaklia deep-water port will be a key part of the US strategy for the larger Black Sea region

The former Commanding General of US Army Europe, Lieutenant General (retired) Ben Hodges, responded to Europetime's inquiries. We asked him to comment on the Georgian government's announcement that they can start immediate construction and port development by 2023. Also, on the necessity and significance of  infrastructure projects for Georgia as well, which is given the chance to enhance and underline its role and function as a connecting link between Europe and Asia within the framework of the new geopolitical scenario.

„Russia and Iran are building a transportation network of rivers, seas, and railroads to avoid sanctions while moving products between the two nations and beyond. Obviously, we’ve got to find ways to close all the loopholes through which Russia and Iran are able to violate the sanctions protocols.
But there will be a day when Russia and Iran are not necessarily our enemies, so we should be thinking long-term about how to take advantage of this new trade route, and the soon-to-be-developed USG Strategy for the greater Black Sea region could take this into account.

Building a deep-water port at Anaklia in Georgia would be a key part of this, enabling major traffic from the Black Sea region to get to the Caspian Sea via rail through GEO and AZE. Unfortunately, the current government of Georgia does not seem to grasp or favor this sort of strategic thinking and investment“, - Ben Hodges told Europetime.

Early on, Ben Hodges told Europetime that the Biden Administration should announce a comprehensive strategy for the greater Black Sea region.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili revealed on 12 December that the long-awaited deep sea port of Anaklia will be built with the government’s participation, which will subsequently own 51% of it. The Prime Minister noted that an international competition will be announced to select the partners and companies which will participate in the project.

„we strongly support the development of the Anaklia deep water port, which is critical infrastructure for Georgia to develop. It would be a huge contribution as Georgia develops its role in the Middle Corridor, to bring goods from Central Asia to Europe. Development of the port would also bring jobs to Georgia and the region. We hope to see the Government of Georgia move forward to tender the project and select a qualified developer through a transparent and competitive process“, - US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan told Europetime.

In addition, NATO welcomes the development of infrastructure of strategic importance, such as the port facilities on the Black Sea coast.

„We welcome all steps undertaken by the Georgian authorities to promote its economic development and security. According to a NATO official speaking to Europetime, this includes the development of infrastructure of strategic importance, such as the port facilities on the Black Sea coast.

"The Anaklia Deep Sea Port is a great opportunity," said Philip Reeker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, during a visit to Georgia in June 2021.

Senator Rob Portman also stressed that it is extremely important that more countries invest in Georgia.

„We should encourage more direct investment in Georgia. One would be infrastructure, specifically a particular port project, which is a huge opportunity for infrastructure investment. But also, there are so many other opportunities in agriculture and other commodities, including mining, including manufacturing,"-Senator Rob Portman said in an exclusive comment with Europetime.