The Georgian Coast Guard opened a base in the Black Sea port town of Poti yesterday. The base was created through the USD 17.5 million US program of reforming the Georgian border patrols. The base allows for the strengthening of control over the territorial waters of Georgia and strengthening the sea borders of the country.
The opening ceremony was attended by representatives of the US State Department, high-ranking members of the Georgian Coast Guard, foreign diplomats and Georgian government representatives. The US Coast Guard intends to conclude a five-year agreement with the Batumi Shipbuilding Factory for the repairs and modernization of ships in the Georgian Coast Guard.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that without the help of the US, the Georgian Coast Guard, which turned 6 years old yesterday, would not exist. Shevardnadze said that since 1992 the US has given Georgia a variety of aid, including USD 64 million for preparing four Georgian battalions of commandos. 2.5 thousand Georgian commandos will be trained on US money by the end of 2003.
The creation of the Coast Guard base and its functioning, according to military analysts, is especially urgent for Georgia. Over the last year Georgian border guards detained twelve ships which according to the border guards acted contrary to the interests of Georgia.