DIPLOMAT MAYJUNE 2021 WEB READY - Flipbook - Page 30
On her country’s 30th anniversary of independence, Ambassador of
Georgia Sophie Katsarava MBE reflects on a momentous year
his year, Georgia marks
the 30th anniversary since its
restoration of independence.
This is truly a momentous
year, and an opportunity to
reflect on the three decades of
challenges and progress.
Georgia’s road since the
restoration of independence
has been bumpy and full
of challenges. Yet, at the same time, we have seen a
tremendous achievement for a country that has only been
independent for 30 years. A drive to reform the country,
strengthen its democracy, build a free society, improve its
economy and ensure equality are just a few of the priorities
that remain the key drivers of present-day Georgia.
Today, Georgia is proud of its close ties with the
European Union and NATO, and its strategic partners
such as the UK and the US. Georgia’s foreign policy
trajectory was determined 30 years ago by the Georgian
public, and this irreversible path will not change as we
continue to strive for EU and NATO memberships.
OUR SMALL COUNTRY ON THE
CROSSROADS OF EUROPE AND
ASIA HAS BECOME ONE OF THE
BEST PLACES TO DO BUSINESS.
GEORGIA BOASTS THE WORLD’S
THIRD-LOWEST TOTAL TAX
RATE, [AND] IS RANKED
SEVENTH IN TERMS OF THE
WORLD BANK’S EASE OF DOING
BUSINESS ANNUAL INDEX
In recent decades, Georgia’s economy has undergone
a significant transformation. Our success story has
been widely recognised and has gained the country the
MAY/JUNE 2021 } DIPLOMATMAGAZINE.COM
name of a ‘top Reformer’ many times over the years. As
a result, our small country on the crossroads of Europe
and Asia has become one of the best places to do business.
Georgia boasts the world’s third-lowest total tax rate,
is ranked seventh in terms of the World Bank’s Ease
of Doing Business annual index and is in eighth place
on the OECD’s FDI Regulatory restrictiveness Index.
Georgia is a great believer in the benefits of free trade.
Having established 19 free-trade agreements (FTAs)
around the world, Georgia now has access to a market of
2.3 billion consumers in the UK, the European Union,
China, Turkey, the CIS and EFTA countries. FTAs with
Israel, India and the US are also underway.
Georgia has become a favourite tourism destination.
Before the pandemic more than nine million tourists
visited our country, which is almost three times its
population. Despite the existing challenges, boosting
trade ties, increasing the flow of goods and services and
gradual reopening of the country for safe tourism remain
key priorities for the Georgian government.
Georgia, however, is still facing challenges, such as
the consequences of the Russian-Georgian war in 2008,
when our territory was invaded and occupied. This illegal
occupation of 20 per cent of our territories remains in
place. Ongoing creeping annexation and grave human
rights violations in the occupied regions of Abkhazia
and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali remain the most serious
security challenge for Georgia, as well as for the wider
Black Sea region. Therefore, strong and unwavering
support from our strategic allies is vitally important.
The UK was one of the first countries which
recognised Georgia’s independence. Since then, the
relations between our countries have prospered and got
stronger. Today, Georgia and the UK enjoy close bonds
on a wide range of areas and I am looking forward to
contributing to expanding these ties.
Embassy of Georgia in London will not be able to host
the event with our friends this year either. Instead of a
traditional celebration, we will mark it virtually.