September 21, Akhalkalaki – Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia travelled to Samtzkhe-Javakheti to highlight EU support to the region and launch the first Europe Day in Akhalkalaki.
The initial part of the visit focused on the Akhalkalaki Local Action Group. Established with the assistance of an EU project implemented by GIPA, Mercy Corps, Elva Community Engagement and West Cork Development Partnership, the Local Action Group is composed of 30 local citizens from the Akhalkalaki’s private sector, civil society and municipal government. The LAG agrees on a local development strategy and then funds local initiatives in line with its priorities.
Following the meeting, Ambassador Hartzell opened the Akhalkalaki Language Centre, which was established by the Alkalkalaki LAG with EU support, and which provides free intensive Georgian and English lessons to local residents.
The Ambassador then visited two of the 16 initiatives supported by the LAG so far:
A local volcanic slag mining company, which received an EU grant to purchase heavy machinery, solar panels and a field office container. Besides helping the company grow and sustain 20 jobs, the grant helps it adopt best examples of environmentally friendly operation practice and represent role model for other actors in the market.
A local trout farm which received support under the heading of Environmental Protection to help restore local population of Red Spot Trout. Funds were spent on construction of breeding pool and purchase of feeding materials and hatchlings (larva), and 25,000 trout are expected to be returned to the rivers annually.