Speech by Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili at the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum Print Version

2017-11-28

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Greetings Esteemed Heads of Government,

Your Excellences, Prime Ministers, Vice Prime Ministers, and Ministers,

Honorable delegates of international organizations,

Media, expert, and business community representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear guests,

Dear friends!

Welcome to Georgia! It is our great honor to host such distinguished delegations at the Silk Road Forum in Tbilisi or, as the title of this year's event reads, Belt and Road.

Please accept my sincere appreciation for participating in the forum.

Historically located at a vital crossroads, Georgia links the economies and cultures of East and West. We have gone through fire and water throughout the millennia to preserve our independence and uniqueness, with our spirit of tolerance and cooperation, and our ability to make the most of opportunities.

Today the world, similar to Europe and Asia, still faces numerous challenges, yet there are also enormous opportunities for peaceful and sustainable development.

Our forum seeks to identify these opportunities together and to take action for bettering the future of our countries and citizens.

Being able to make its modest contribution to ensuring deeper and more reliable ties between continents is something that Georgia prizes as a great opportunity and honor.

The revival of the Great Silk Road, encapsulated in the Belt and Road initiative proposed by the President of the People's Republic of China, rests upon five fundamental principles: peace, prosperity, openness, innovation, and exchange of civilizations. This undertaking requires active dialogue between and within public and private sectors, and we very much hope that this conference will provide us with ample opportunity to this end.

It is the second time that Georgia is hosting the Silk Road Forum bringing together delegations from 37 countries and dozens of international organizations. The vivid interest in the forum testifies that this initiative is becoming strategically important not only to its participant states but everyone pursuing greater results in trade, infrastructural development, enhanced access to digital technology, and deeper people-to-people contacts.

The Government of Georgia will spare no effort to give, in cooperation with its international partners, fresh impetus to the diversification of transport routes along the Silk Road, while raising the effectiveness of these routes, and also stepping up the implementation of projects poised to boost stronger economic and civilizational ties between Europe and Asia.

Allow me to emphasize that we welcome healthy competition between different transport corridors under the Belt and Road initiative, because it encourages affordable and accessible services and, accordingly, greater prosperity of citizens.

Georgia is an open economy ranking 8th and 9th in the world in economic freedom and ease of doing business, respectively. We have one of the most liberal trade regimes in the world, and we enjoy free trade with all of our neighbors, the EU, the EFTA, Eastern European and Central Asian states, and China. We are also probing into similar opportunities with India. What I am trying to say is that we are committed to maximal cooperation with every country represented here today.

Georgia is ready to make its contribution to the development of the so-called Middle Corridor of the New Silk Road. As you know, in close cooperation with the Governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan, in October, we commissioned the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway section that now connects the Central Asian states to Europe's railroad network via an alternative route.

We are investing billions of dollars in the development of a wider network of highways to increase our region's transit potential and turn it into a key transport hub.

Especially noteworthy are port infrastructure and our new Anaklia Deep-Sea Port project of an unprecedented scope in the Black Sea's eastern coast, creating brand new opportunities in this corridor.

Dear guests,

Our forum will enable you to familiarize yourselves closely with all these and other crucially important projects and actively to present your views, ideas, and business projects.

I hope that today's forum will lay the foundation for many new undertakings and initiatives, so that we-the participant states of the ambitious Great Silk Road project, international organizations and companies and, most importantly, the citizens of our countries-may, through joint effort and cooperation, maximally benefit from tapping into its enormous economic potential.

Today's gathering and our forum serve this very cause. As public and private sector leaders, we are obligated to put in place the best possible conditions and opportunities for development. I have no doubt that we all appreciate this responsibility and will make an all-out effort to employ cooperative and constructive approaches to provide our citizens with a decent today and a sustainable tomorrow.

Dear guests,

As you know, the EU and China, as the world's two largest economies, with the trade between them doubling in the past ten years, are leading the way in the development of the New Silk Road. Consequently, at the outset, we will be privileged to hear how China and the EU themselves view prospects in their relationship.

In conclusion, I once again thank you for visiting Georgia. Please accept my sincere wishes for exciting discussions and productive work today.

I am convinced that during your visit, our country, Georgia, will make a lasting impression on you.

Thank you for your time!