H.E. Konstantin Zhgenti
Ambassador of Georgia to the State of Kuwait
On 26 May Georgia celebrates the 30th anniversary of its Independence Day. Georgia or ‘Sakartvelo’ in Georgian Language is a country in the South Caucasus, located at the eastern end of the Black Sea. It is bounded on the north and northeast by Russia, on the east and southeast by Azerbaijan, on the south by Armenia and Turkey, and on the west by the Black Sea. Georgia includes three ethnic enclaves: Abkhazia, in the northwest (principal city Sokhumi); Ajara, in the southwest (principal city Batumi); and South Ossetia, in the north (principal city Tskhinvali). The capital of Georgia is Tbilisi (Tiflis).
The Georgian language is a member of the Kartvelian family of languages. It has its own alphabet, which evolved about the 5th century, and there are three dialects. The national genius was demonstrated most clearly in ‘Vepkhistkaosani’ (The Knight in the Panther’s Skin), the epic masterpiece of the 12th-century poet Shota Rustaveli which is translated in more than 50 languages, including Arabic.
Most Georgians are members of the Georgian Orthodox Church, an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church. In addition, there are Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, and Jewish communities. Tbilisi, the capital, an ancient city with many architectural monuments mingling with modern buildings, lies in eastern Georgia, partly in a scenic gorge of the Mtkvari River. Other major centres are Kʿutʿaisi, Rustʿavi, Sokhumi, and Batʿumi.
The Georgians are a proud people with an ancient culture. They have over the ages been noted as warriors as well as for their hospitality, love of life, lively intelligence and sense of humor. The ancient culture of the republic is reflected in the large number of architectural monuments, including many monasteries and churches. The vineyards and the wine-making tradition of Georgia constitute one of the oldest and most important features of Georgian identity and perhaps the best loved. Georgian wine-making dates to 300 BCE. Historically Georgia produced more than 500 varieties of grapes.
Situated at the strategically important crossroads where Europe meets Asia, Georgia has a unique and ancient cultural heritage, and is famed for its traditions of hospitality and cuisine. The roots of the Georgian people extend deep in history; their cultural heritage is equally ancient and rich. The fabled wealth of Colchis became known quite early to the Greeks and found symbolic expression in the legend of Medea and the Golden Fleece.
Georgia embraced Christianity about the year 330. During the next three centuries, Georgia was involved in the conflict between Rome — and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire — the Persian Sāsānian dynasty. The zenith of Georgia’s power and prestige was reached during the reign (1184–1213) of Queen Tamar, whose realm stretched from Azerbaijan to the borders of Cherkessia (now in southern Russia) and from Erzurum (in modern Turkey) to Ganja (modern Gäncä, Azerbaijan), forming a pan-Caucasian empire.
The invasions of Transcaucasia by the Mongols from 1220 onward, however, brought Georgia’s golden age to an end. The fall of Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey) to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 isolated Georgia from western Christendom. After a long period of Turkish and Persian domination, Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire in the 19 th century.
After the collapse of Russian Empire in 1917, an independent Georgian state — Republic of Georgia, existed from 1918 to 1921. Refused entry into the League of Nations, Georgia gained de jure recognition from the Allies in January 1921. In 1921 Georgia was occupied by Russian Red Army, annexed and incorporated into the Soviet Union. After collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia declared independence on 9 April, 1991. The 1990s were a period of instability and civil unrest in Georgia, as separatist movements emerged in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgia became a member of the United Nations and the OSCE in 1992 and the Council of Europe in 1999. Russia was against Georgia’s independent and Western-oriented policy from the beginning and tense relations with Russia have been further exacerbated by Moscow’s support for the separatist regions of Abkhazia and so named South Ossetia, leading to a brief war in August 2008. Until today Russia has refused to follow the Ceasefire Agreement of 2008 and to withdraw its military forces from occupied Abkhazia and so named South Ossetia, which are recognized by it as ‘independent states’. No international organization and the vast majority of world states are following Russia in this.
Georgia has enjoyed a close relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union. Especially with the EU, because Georgia historically and culturally considers itself as a natural part of the European Civilization. In 2014 Georgia signed The Association Agreement with the EU and in 2021 the Georgian government announced that in 2024 Georgia will officially present its desire to become a member of the European Union.
The diplomatic relations between Georgia and Kuwait, was established in 1992 and the Embassy of Georgia to the State of Kuwait was opened in 2007. Beginning from that period friendly and prosperous political cooperation is being developed on a bilateral basis in addition to being promoted in the framework of international organizations.
In the economic field, Georgia and Kuwait have been preparing favorable conditions for investment. This includes the strengthening of the legal basis, in particular relating to issues of double taxation and investment protection, as well as the enhancing of commercial relations based on a free trade agreement.
The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) and the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce are main partners and counterparts in the development of Georgian-Kuwaiti economic relations. Among the successful projects initiated in recent years is the Tbilisi Road rehabilitation scheme, financed by KFAED, as well as other infrastructure development projects like the upgrading of highways and the Namahvan hydro-electric station. In addition, projects targeting the tourism infrastructure have been launched.
Since 2007, a simplified visa regime has been in force between Georgia and Kuwait, allowing citizens of both countries to receive entry permits upon arrival as opposed to requiring the issuing of visas prior to traveling. In 2017, direct flights began from Kuwait to Tbilisi. The flights are conducted by Jazeera Airways and Kuwait Airways. This helped to further develop relations between the two countries. From the beginning of fights, more than 30,000 people from Kuwait visited Georgia.
We are sure that, after overcoming problems connected with the spread of COVID-19, the two sides will continue developing friendly and prosperous relations.
We wish the State and people of Kuwait further progress and prosperity under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, and His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah.