Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Georgia’s 30th Anniversary of the Independence from the Soviet Union and 30 years to Euro-Atlantic Integration

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Diplomat Magazine
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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

By Mr. Giorgi Nakashidze, Chargé d’Affaires a. i., Embassy of Georgia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands

26 May 2021 marks 103rd year of the Democratic Republic of Georgia as well as 30th anniversary of the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union. On 26 May 1918, Georgia declared independence. Despite the short period of its existence (1918-1921), the Democratic Republic of Georgia had a significant impact on the development of the Georgian statehood in a long run.

At the referendum in 1991, Georgian voters (99.08%) answered ‘yes’ to one single question: ‘Do you support the restoration of the independence of Georgia in accordance with the Act of Declaration of Independence of Georgia of 26 May 1918?’ Consequently, the country gained back its sovereignty in 1991. Since then, Georgia has made a substantial success in multiple directions, including on the path to the European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Due to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic course, maintaining of independence, unfortunately, turned out to be harder than gaining it. Since regaining independence, Georgia has been target of full-scale military aggression and hybrid warfare from the Russian Federation aiming to destabilise the country, keep it in the sphere of influence and hinder its pro-western foreign policy. Even today, Georgia continues its fight for territorial integrity. The Russian Federation continues the illegal occupation of the indivisible regions of the country – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia. In a historic judgment in January 2021, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights found that Russia is exercising effective control over Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia and it is responsible for the mass violations committed against the Georgian population.

Relations between the European Union and Georgia started soon after Georgia regained its sovereignty. The European Union and Georgia’s close relationship is based on the EU-Georgia Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which entered into force in July 2016 and strives for political association and economic integration. Besides, since 28 March 2017 nationals of Georgia are exempt from visa requirement to travel to the Schengen zone for a short-stay. As a next benchmark, Georgia is preparing to apply for full EU membership in 2024.

Georgia is a thriving Eastern European democracy and as a successful case of European integration, it carries an important benefit for the EU as a value-based transformational power. Georgia is the EU’s gateway to the Caucasus, to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. As a Black Sea littoral state, it can play a significant role as Europe’s alternative transport hub and an alternative energy route. Georgia is also a contributor to tackling global and regional security challenges. A Framework Agreement on Georgia’s participation in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy operations entered into force in March 2014, and Georgia has since made remarkable contributions to several operations.

Accession to the NATO is another top foreign and security policy priorities of Georgia. Shortly after Georgia restored independence in 1991, the country joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in 1992. At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, the Allies agreed that Georgia will become a NATO member. This decision has been reaffirmed at successive NATO Summits. By actively involving in NATO-led operations, Georgia aims at becoming not only the consumer of security, but also an important player for strengthening common Euro-Atlantic security.

During past three decades, Georgia demonstrated significant progress in the economic and cultural diplomacy. As of now, country has free trade with 2.3 billion-consumer market. Georgia is a leader in the region in terms of stability and investment attractiveness. The elements of Georgian intangible cultural heritage, among others, include the ancient Georgian traditional Kvevri winemaking method. In 2017, 8,000-year-old pottery fragments revealed the earliest evidence of grape winemaking in Georgia, which entered Guinness World Records as the ‘oldest wine’.

30 years after regaining independence from the Soviet Union, Georgia has become a reliable partner in the international community to which world also presents differently. Country’s geopolitical, economic and cultural interests have spread across the globe while its security, political and economic stability are in the interests of the majority of the countries in the world. In pursuit to bridge Georgia and the world, Georgia continues to maintain a persistent foreign policy and conduct proactive diplomacy guided by predictability, sustainability and continuity.

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