Good evening ladies and gentlemen!

Let me greet Ms. Mogherini,

Mr. Bouffier,

Mr. Feldmann,

Mr. Riethmüller,

Mr. Boos,

Ms. Haratishvili,

Mr. Morchiladze,

"There is a little heaven on this globe and it is called Georgia. One small nation lives in this little heaven and its great heart beats for success, kindness and happiness of the mankind" once said late Ilya Chavchavadze, our great ancestor and enlightener.

And heart of this small nation with oldest history, rich culture and Christian values dating back from the 4th century still beats and stands ready to contribute its share in the happiness of the mankind.

It is our great honor to participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair with a history of 500 years as a Guest of Honor. Participation in this prestigious and wide-scale event gives us a unique opportunity to showcase our oldest and rich Georgian culture and assure everyone in the civilization unity that relates Georgians with Europeans.

Uniqueness and diversity of the Georgian culture has been conditioned by the location of the country, which has been positioned at the crossroad of Europe and Asia - place where civilizations meet and cultures have a dialogue. In the XI-XII centuries Georgia was already exposed to the civilization world and every achievement of the time. Nevertheless, it was greatly influenced by every epoch of the European civilization, which ultimately defined its European identity. And we are very proud of this!

The more diverse Georgia is, the richer and more interesting it is and nowadays stands ready to embrace any and all progressiveness and novelty. Therefore, current Georgia is a modern country with its history and authentic culture.

Fortunately, European society is well aware of the fundamental importance of the cultural legacy in the formation and development of the European identity. This is why such spaces were created with all their opportunities offered by the International Frankfurt Book Fair.

You are well aware that this key-note event plays a tremendous role in the world literary process and we as a country of oldest and rich literary legacy stand ready to showcase and promote the Georgian civilization, which has been evolving over centuries, along with the creative art of contemporary writers, poets and performers - enabling an interesting continuation of this legacy.

Throughout the year Georgia has been exposing Germany to its full resources in literature, drama theatre, music, paintings and drawings, cinema, folklore and other mediums.

Georgia Made by Characters is the slogan with which we wish to showcase our country in the prism of its historic context and present time. It is well known that an alphabet is one of the key features of the national identity. Therefore, Georgians have an exceptional feeling and pride towards the Georgian alphabet, which is one of the oldest and unique scripts in the world. This alphabet served as a basis of Georgian literature, which originates in the V century and has a 15 century-long history.

Georgia was blessed with a Renaissance as early as in the XII century. This epoch was crown-jeweled with the Knight in Panther Skin - an epic monument based on modern European values. This book equals with the Bible in the perception of Georgians and serves as a name card for the country throughout the world. Handwritten copies of the Knight in Panther Skin were inherited by one generation from another and defined the moral ideals of the nation, its vision of the world, Georgian spirit and character. Especially for the Frankfurt Book Fair, we have brought a new handwritten copy in an original embossed cover. After being exhibited here it will be ultimately deposited in the Arts Collection of the United Nations as a priceless and glorifying creation of Georgians.

We already have a rich and very interesting history of Georgian book print, with multiple centuries of translation school and this tradition is continuing today. It is gratifying that interest has considerably grown overseas towards the modern Georgian literature. This is first time that Georgian authors are making a breakthrough in the language frontiers and loyal foreign readers now reside in different countries of the world.

Along with the fiction and non-fiction, we are given an opportunity to present the current achievements of Georgian scientists, along with the scientific, enlightening and cultural heritage created over centuries, augmented with fine arts, classical music, Georgian cinematography with its 110 year-long history making strides along with the European cinema; here is the school of science and achievements that brought international fame and recognition to Georgians.

A separate landmark in the Georgian art is its polyphonic singing, which was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible world heritage. Some 40 years ago, when a US spaceship The Voyager sent samples of the cultural heritage of the mankind to the outer space and eternity, it included Chakrulo - Georgian folk song and voiced spirit of Georgians!

When we talk about the Georgian culture, I cannot help mentioning its integral part - wine, which has an uninterrupted history of 8000 years of distilling as evidenced by international studies and research, granting a title of the Cradle of Wine to Georgia. Our small nation has succeeded to domesticate and cultivate almost 500 species of grapes on its small territory. Nowadays, Georgia shares its exceptional wines with the rest of the world. Today, when Georgia is returning to Europe - a culture it once belonged to - though branched out for a certain period of time, it is also joining the European winemaking.

Unique Georgian method of winemaking in a clay vessel called the Quevri has also been acknowledged by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of the mankind, listing it accordingly. Quevri is the symbol of Georgian history and culture, while wine and vine is a key feature of Georgian ornaments, folk stories and songs.

It is symbolic that Georgia is showcasing its literature and culture at 100th Anniversary of the First Democratic Georgian Republic.

Civilization choice was made again by Georgia 100 years ago and it defined the future of our nation. First Democratic Republic of Georgia had a multi-party Parliament, while the original Constitution was based on the values and principles that are still valid and progressive. Our Parliament 100 years ago had 5 female MPs of various religious affiliations, which was rare even for Europe of those times.

Georgia nowadays is an inheritance and continuation of those very values, which originated a century ago. We belong to the common European family and 100 years later Georgia continues its journey on this road with a successful cooperation and strong bondage with EU. Every and any achievement of Georgia, democratic and economic development, leading position in the region in many aspects is the very result of our European and Euro-Atlantic choice.

It is our great honor to showcase Georgia in Germany - a country, which was among the first to recognize the Democratic Republic of Georgia 100 years ago. Back in 1918, Germany played the most crucial role in the formation of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia, right at its creation. Though spiritual and cultural kinship between Georgians and Germans existed much earlier - 200 years ago, when first German communities settled in our country. This 200 year-long relationship between our countries is jointly celebrated throughout 2018. This bondage became strong and solid, grew into a close friendship and partnership. Germany has been standing by the side of Georgia at every stage of its development. It was among the first again 27 years ago to recognize the independence regained by Georgia. Thank you very much for this!

Germany is first in the ranking of partner countries supporting our policymaking, defense, economy, law and judiciary, arts and culture, education and public sector. It remains by our side with its unwavering support of the most important and utterly painful issue - sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. Role of Germany is priceless in the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia. Recent official visit of Ms. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany to our country is an evidence of this unconditional support.

I strongly believe that friendship between Georgian and German people, loyalty towards common values will further deepen relations between our countries and turn us into reliable, stronghold partners.

I once again wish to express my enormous gratitude to every individual, who contributed in the efforts leading to such a diverse program of the key-note event. I am confident that Frankfurt Book Fair will facilitate our cultural integration with Europe and will advance our relations to a completely new level.

And lastly, let me once again state that Georgia is and will always be by your side in the fight for freedom and fight for the individual as the prime value.

Thank you very much! I am on the same page!