It is quite difficult to find a city in Georgia, or anywhere else in the South Caucasus for that matter, that is changing its image as fast as the city of Batumi. The rehabilitation project of Old Batumi and new hotels being built in the city are just a few examples of large-scale projects currently underway in Batumi.
“Batumi: Then and Now,” a Batumi Public Debate held by the Heinrich Boell Foundation on April 21, 2010, addressed questions of rapid change in the city.
The aim of the debate was to exchange the views between local civil society and local government representatives on the issues of city’s current image, the problems and challenges of the city, as well as its prospects for development.
Writer Ramaz Surmanidze, painter Akaki Dzneladze and film director Shota Gujabidze were invited as the speakers. Officials from the city council and local government, as well as representatives of civil society participated in the event.
During the discussions, the speakers considered the development processes of the city and emphasized that the identity and the old image of Batumi must be maintained despite the huge changes and development in the city. Speakers and audience alike noted that important monuments in the city should not be removed or destroyed without taking into account the views of local society.
Participants also emphasized the importance of dialogue between representatives of civil society and local government members on the issues of city development. The public debate can be considered a part of this dialogue.