The Embassy of Georgia in Pretoria celebrated their Independence Day on 28 May 2024. H.E. Mr Roland Beridze welcomed members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the South African government, and distinguished guests to the event.

Thirty-three years ago, in 1991, Georgia proclaimed its independence. Since then, it has become a democratic and prosperous nation and an equal member of the international community.

“Restoration of territorial integrity and unification is the paramount goal for my country,” said H.E. Mr Beridze.

Georgia will pursue this goal through exclusively peaceful processes of reconciliation and engagement with communities free from external control.

Georgia is ranked 32nd among 184 countries in the Economic Freedom Index of 2024. Additionally, the World Bank Group places Georgia in a leading position globally for starting a business, dealing with bureaucracy, and the number of procedures required to launch and operate an enterprise. The Corruption Perception Index in Georgia is even lower than in several EU states, positioning Georgia as the leading country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

European and Euro-Atlantic integration is the top priority for Georgia’s foreign and security policy, which is enshrined in the constitution. This has been a firm choice of the Georgian people since they claimed independence. Since 2011, Georgia has been recognised by NATO as an aspiring country, and on 8 November 2023, the European Commission recommended issuing candidate status to Georgia. On 14 December 2023, Georgia was granted candidate status by the EU.

Georgia is a leader in the region in terms of stability and investment. Strategically located at the intersection of Europe and Asia, Georgia has become a reliable transport partner and a key actor in regional and global transport networks. The so-called “Middle Corridor” serves as one of the most efficient and secure transport routes for cargo and resources between Europe and Asia. This multimodal land and sea transport route extends from China, transiting through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, crossing the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea. The route comprises around 4,250 kilometres of rail lines and 500 kilometres of seaway, leading to Europe via Turkey or the Black Sea.

At the dawn of independence on 23 April 1993, Georgia established diplomatic relations with the Republic of South Africa. These relations are based on strict adherence to the principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. The shared love of rugby between the countries has become a strong national pastime in Georgia.

The Embassy of Georgia was opened in Pretoria in 2011, marking their first mission in sub-Saharan Africa. Since then, bilateral relations between the Republic of South Africa and Georgia have deepened in various areas. Georgia has become a second home for many South Africans, and likewise, South Africa has become a true home for many Georgians.

Since formalising bilateral relations and establishing the Georgian embassy in South Africa, the magnetism of bilateral consultations has grown, leading to a series of dialogues. The latest round took place in October 2022 at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers, when Mr Alvin Botes and his colleagues from DIRCO visited Tbilisi.

Over the years, five rounds of consultations have been held at the senior officials’ level between Georgia and South Africa. These interactions have been essential for exchanging good practices and discussing various topics of regional and global significance. The Chamber of Commerce of Georgia has signed MOUs with the Chamber of Commerce in Johannesburg and the Cape Chamber of Commerce to strengthen the economy and diversify trade and economic relations.

Georgia cherishes its wine, being the oldest producer of wine in the world. It was an honour to facilitate the formalisation of relations between the Cape Winelands District and Georgia in 2017. Since 2014, South Africans have been able to travel to Georgia and stay for a full year without a visa. Georgia looks forward to South Africa reciprocating this for Georgian visitors.

Deputy Director-General Ms Maud Dlomo conveyed the warmest congratulations and greetings to the government and people of Georgia on behalf of the government of South Africa.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries remain cordial and are maintained through cooperation in various fields, such as economic structures in the form of Chambers of Commerce and academic institutions.

“We expect to host the Deputy [Foreign] Minister from Georgia for political consultations this year, and we are looking forward to that,” said Ms Dlomo.

The bilateral relations with Georgia indicate that there is an untapped sectoral market. There is a lot of work to be done, and there is hope that the Chambers and Honourary Consuls will assist in this endeavour. The trade volume is below the existing potential and has considerable room for improvement.

Guests enjoyed a performance of classical music by The Three Sisters.

by Marion Kate