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Georgia Protests Benetton Abkhaz Entry
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 May.'09 / 19:11

The Georgian Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish ambassador after news broke that a Turkish arm of Italian clothing retailer Benetton was opening a shop in breakaway Abkhaz capital Sokhumi.

The move will contravene Georgia’s law on occupied territories, which bans “any type of economic activity” without relevant permits from the Georgian authorities.

“We are not against the activities of any commercial firm on the occupied territories, if it complies with the Georgian law on occupied territories,” Grigol Vashadze, the Georgian foreign minister, told journalists on May 25.

“But let them register in Georgia and obtain a Georgian tax identification code, pay taxes and act under our permission. If any company does not want it and wants to carry out its activities through violations, it will entail legal, commercial and other consequences.”

“There are 5 or 6 Benetton shops in Georgia. Therefore, if they do not meet our requirements with understanding, we have the levers to prevent this outrageous action,” Vashadze added.

The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, reported on May 25 about the Benetton Turkey’s plans to open a shop in Sokhumi. The newspaper’s online English-language edition reported quoting a statement of general manager of Benetton Turkey Zeynep Selgur: “Abkhazia is the door that opens the historical Silk Road to the sea. It has a strategic importance with its tourism and sea transportation.”

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