''Georgia is a small country with great vision, whereby East meets West, North - South and antique traditions - innovations'' states Prime Minister of Georgia Print Version

2019-06-07

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"Georgia is a small country with great vision, thereby East meets West, North - South and antique traditions - innovations, where economic opportunity abounds" stated Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia in his speech delivered at the Community Club in California, USA.

Head of Government of Georgia focused on the opportunities existing in Georgia and close strategic partnership existing with USA.

"I will try to make Georgia memorable through three numbers: 1, 28 and 8000. The first number 1 is for the election of Salome Zourabichvili as a President of Georgia and first feale leader anywhere in the region. We are proud of her election in 2018 for a six year term. Her election represents another milestone in our nation's progress toward diversity and democracy. The second one is 28 - number of years we have been free of the Soviet Union and have charted our own democratic course as an independent nation. I am proud to say the USA has been with Georgia every step of the way" noted the Prime Minister of Georgia.

In the opinion of the Head of Government of Georgia "since breaking the chains of communism, Georgia has been on a steady path to build the institutions of democracy. This includes creating a justice system that works and a representative democracy that is accountable to the voters - the citizens."

"As a result of our reforms, Georgia is widely recognized as the greatest reformer country in the world. It has the fastest economic growth in the world and widely recognized as easiest place in the world to do business. We are the third by the lowest tax rates in the world. We have made investments in our people and modern infrastructure that have established Georgia as a regional economic hub. As a result of our work, today we are on the cusp of joining NATO, joining the European Union, and forging trade agreements with friends and allies like the United States. The World Bank Group ranks us 6th in in the world in Ease of Doing Business; the Fraser Institute ranks us 7th, right after the USA, for Economic Freedom; and in a reflection of our commitment to open government, the Open Budget Index ranks us 5th in access to government information. Virtually all-important indicators are moving in the right direction, from a free press, to economic growth (over 5% growth and twice higher than in the neighborhood), to investment in human capital and more" added the Prime Minister of Georgia.

Third number, which was noted by the Head of Government of Georgia was 8000, as this is the timeline of winemaking history in Georgia.

"As documented by archaeologists, Georgia is now universally recognized as the birthplace of wine. Georgia's tradition of making wines began eight thousand years ago-three thousand years before the invention of writing and five thousand years before the beginning of the Iron Age. Even the unique Georgian alphabet is modeled after the shape of the vine's curly offshoots. Many of the vines still in cultivation in Europe and Asia have a Georgian origin, and even Western words for wine-vin, vino, wine-likely come from the Georgian word ghvino. Now, California knows a lot about wine. My understanding is that the first California wines were produced in the 1760s. Today you are 5th largest producer in the world producing 241 million cases, generating over $75 billion in economic activity supporting over 325 000 jobs in California alone. Not bad progress for only a couple of hundred years. In Georgia our 8000 year pace is a bit slower, but our wine ages well. When someone keeps doing the same thing over and over again for over 8000 years, you finally master it" noted the Prime Minister of Georgia.

In the opinion of the Head of Government of Georgia, "Georgians are tough, loyal, optimistic and moving forward with confidence. Nonetheless, challenges remain". Prime Minister of Georgia focused on the occupation of 20% of the Georgian land by Russia and on 80% of the local population forced to leave their homes in the occupied regions.

"Now, with 8,000 years under our belt and 70 years of Soviet occupation of our land, we aren't about to let Russia define our future. We are in complete control of our destiny, and our vision for the future is built on an ambition to be a world-class place to live, work and grow. It may take time for us to regain our territory but we will. It clearly won't be through the use of force; it will be through the use of democracy, opportunity, development and humanity" noted the Prime Minister of Georgia.

Head of Government of Georgia spoke about the key aspects of strategic partnership between Georgia and USA, stressing the strong bilateral military cooperation.

"Georgia is a strong U.S. military ally and beacon of democracy resisting Russian aggression. We punch above our weight in global affairs. Georgian soldiers fought alongside U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am pleased that the US Congress recognizes our strategic importance. Just last month House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Georgia Support Act. This act is designed to protect our sovereignty against Russian aggression and will punish Russian adventurism with sanctions, among other important actions. Our landscape moves from amazing beaches on the Black Sea to the tallest mountain range in Europe, the Greater Caucasus Mountains. We have a wine producing climate on par with your northern California weather. Our culture is rooted in European values and European civilization. We are open for business and welcome enterprising Californians to seize the opportunities that abound in Georgia. Our immediate regional market offers access to half a billion people. Due to our geographic position, we offer a unique access point for American businesses to reach European and Asian markets at one vital geographic inflection point" noted the Prime Minister of Georgia.

Head of Government of Georgia spoke about the increased investment in education, introduction of innovations in energy and protection of environment, creation of an eco-system based on innovations.

"Georgia is the first country in the world to use Blockchain technologies in the delivery of public services. I recently introduced our Green Economy strategy that focuses on environmental protection to improve the ecology across the country and save natural resources for future generations. I have two priorities with this strategy: neutralize the results of previously careless environmental management and preserve existing natural resources in a way to ensure that Georgia is one of the world's leading green economies. As a result, we have attracted a surge of Foreign Direct Investment including a new solar cell plant and an electric car manufacturer" noted the Prime Minister of Georgia.

Head of Government of Georgia stressed the significance of investments in infrastructure, including modern roads, ports and highly skilled, qualified labor force. Prime Minister noted that ¼ of the State Budget will be spent on education and thus knowledge industry will constitute to 12 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"In the era of disruptive technologies, I want Georgia to be at forefront of the knowledge revolution. As part of this effort, we will build new trade schools dedicated to high tech engineering and other practical skills. You may be surprised to learn that San Diego State University operates a campus in our capital of Tbilisi offering undergraduate STEM degrees. I would love to see more partnerships with California's world-class academic institutions. In conclusion, let me state clearly that Georgia is on the move and in control of its destiny. As I said at the beginning of my remarks: We are a small country with big ambitions that is located in a geopolitical crossroad where East meets West and economic opportunity abounds. I am honored to speak to such an extraordinary organization in a remarkable city and state. Georgia is part of the global community; we stand shoulder to shoulder with US and other nations of the world dedicated to democracy, opportunity and the protection of our civilization. We need America and California to help us continue to succeed" concluded the Prime Minister of Georgia.

Speech was followed with question and answer session. Prime Minister of Georgia responded to the questions posed by members of the audience at the meeting today.

Prime Minister's Press Office