Exclusive interview with Vazil Hudák Vice-President of European Investment Bank.
– Tell us about the purpose of your visit?
– I actually had two reasons- business and family. The bank of the European Union is not only active within the EU but also outside its borders, especially, the countries of the Eastern neighborhood where Georgia belongs. Georgia is a very active partner of European Investment Bank. We’ve already allocated about 1.5 billion Euro since 2007.
One of the aim was to hold discussion with Georgian Government about what’s their strategy, things we have done and plans for the future.
Another part is family; I’ve been to Georgia 5 times, which has been a typical business trip- from airport to hotel, hotel to meeting and back to airport. I knew that Georgia is a beautiful, hospitable country and I wanted to experience it with my family- with my wife and 12 year-old son. Thanks to very nice Georgian friends, we experienced wine tourism in Kakheti, wine growing region. Sighnaghi reminded me of Tuscany, Italy. It was our first time to see how wine is produced in Qvevri, which has a history of thousand years. We even baked Georgian bread, prepared Georgian snickers- Churchkhela, and had wonderful dinner at Lopota Lake. We also traveled to Borjomi, Romanov Castle, Akhaltsikhe- nicely renovated castle, Vardzia, Svaneti.
– As you visited so many places, how do you see the perspective of tourism in Georgia?
– I think, Georgia has a great perspective in different types of tourism-first of all, wine, as you have very unique over 500 sorts of wine; mountain, ski, ecotourism. Summer resorts, by the seashore are developing too. Potential is huge, although infrastructure needs to be developed in terms of transportation system, facilities at accommodations, hotels to become more global. You need to bring more people from abroad who will get familiar with traditions, culture and nature.
– You have signed financial agreement on Hydro Power Plant rehabilitation; do you think this field requires a quick action in Georgia?
– EIB mostly used to support governmental, large infrastructure projects. The conference about Georgia-European days was held 3 weeks ago, in Batumi. 250 million EUR were allocated for the construction of highway with Minister of Infrastructure. I signed 22 million EUR investment for Georgian Water and Power to manage water cleaning.
We were asked to increase our support for the project itself, we are overall committed to support Georgia, especially for the production of clean energy. Georgia is one of the main leaders producing hydropower. There is a lot of potential; Georgia can even become an exporter, for example to Iran. We will continue supporting in this part.
– Why is Gino Green City project attractive to you, what are your expectations?
– Apart from the mentioned fields, we started to search for private sector projects where we can support directly. As a bank, smart city concept is what we are actively looking for. The city is growing; there is more need of modern facilities, especially for young families who expect modern types of services. It’s interesting for us to use the city as an import of innovations and develop solutions by using solar energy, wind power; use transport like self-driving cars and maybe try startup technologies inside the city. So that, it will be a very interesting concept which could develop a modern project not only for Georgia, but for the region as well. It can present how city can be modern, friendly environment for inhabitants and create innovations using local talent.
– What are the set tasks with partnership fund for long-term cooperation?
– Partnership Fund is a very interesting institution as it combines state assets; they can be a partner in various projects. I was visiting places supported by them and it was obvious they have a great experience in Georgia. People would recognize Chairman-David Saganelidze and it was clear, they work closely with locals, it’s not just an institution, which doesn’t communicate.
We agreed that we would arrange meeting between European Investment Bank and Partnership Fund to brainstorm about priorities of the fund, develop a strategy for cooperation and discuss about the plans.
It’s important to co-operate directly with private sector, in order to avoid a negative impact on public debt and deficit. I see a potential with Partnership Fund.