Dear friends and colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honor and privilege to address you on this remarkable event dedicated to the Independence Day of Georgia. Allow me to thank you all for being with us today.
For us, Georgians, Independence Day is much more than celebration. This day is a symbol of my nation’s fight for freedom, a symbol of unity, courage, national pride and dignity, a day commemorating of those who sacrificed their lives for Georgia’s independence.
For some it is really difficult to find logic behind my county’s existence today, taking into account numerous invasions and tragic events that occurred throughout Georgia’s multi century-old history. But the logic is there – our tireless pursuit for freedom helped us survive. For this, but not only, I am proud to be part of this small but great Georgian nation.
Unfortunately, we still pay high price for our independence. Our fight for freedom is not over. 20% of Georgia’s territory still remains occupied by the Russian Federation and steps are being taken towards annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region of Georgia. It is not a secret that Russia aggressively desires to control its neighborhood, attempts to have the ability to manage, arbitrate, and veto our relations with the West.
Perhaps the aggressor does not realize that nobody and nothing will ever force Georgians give up their fight for freedom. Even the ongoing events in Georgia prove that we will never put up with the occupation. Our answer to those provocative measures against us and to the aggression is and will be fast and sustainable development of our country, devotion to the democratic values and principles, integration into the western institutions.
Since the day we regained our independence in early 90s, Georgia has been aspiring to join – or rather re-join – the European and Euro-Atlantic community of nations, with whom we share the common history, culture and values. These aspirations, which were defined by the resolute choice of the overwhelming majority of our people, manifested in Georgia’s declared foreign policy goal of fully-fledged integration into the EU and the NATO.
In fact, Georgia has always been a part of European civilization. All our cultural achievements belong to the European heritage. Moreover, historically we, as an ancient Christian nation, have contributed a lot to the development of this civilization. Though our western development was hampered for centuries due to multiple invasions and aggression, we have always been gazing towards Europe. And today I firmly state that our European integration as well as Euro-Atlantic aspirations are irreversible.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Reaching the objectives we have set is impossible without firm support of our friends and partners and of the Netherlands among them, the country inspiring every Georgian with its tremendous achievements. Six months have already passed since I arrived in this marvelous country and even after half a year, the Dutch still continue to fascinate me with their success stories every single day. My dear Dutch friends, allow me to express gratitude for your willingness to share your knowledge and experience with us, for your invaluable support and encouragement. I promise we will meet your expectations!
I am delighted to note that cooperation between Georgia and the Netherlands continues to deepen extensively. This cooperation is not limited only to the political, economic and cultural dimensions but includes wide range of priority areas such as jurisdiction, finances, environment, education, healthcare and other areas that have an outmost importance for my country. It fills me with even more enthusiasm that the Netherlands appears to be one of the top investor countries for Georgia for the last decade. Trade turnover between our countries has a positive dynamics. It was a surprise for me to figure out that Georgia takes the third place in terms of size of the portfolio of FMO – the Dutch Development Bank. Increasing number of Dutch visitors facilitate raise of awareness about Georgia throughout the Netherlands and serves as a solid basis for enhancing people-to-people contacts.
I strongly believe that cooperation and partnership between Georgia and the Netherlands will further deepen in the years to come and will reach new heights in benefit of prosperity and well-being of our two friendly nations.
As you might already have heard, just a few days ago the President Putin imposed tourist embargo on us by banning all direct flights from Russia to Georgia and recommending Russian citizens to refrain from traveling to our country. Let me remind you that the quality of Georgian wine was significantly improved and it gained worldwide recognition right after 2006 Russian embargo. I am sure we will have the same with our tourism sector. I encourage you all to join the massive social campaign “Spend Summer in Georgia”, share it with your friends and plan your trip to Georgia to have unforgettable experience.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today’s event organized in the framework of the campaign “Georgia-Europe” is supported by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia. Our special thanks go to our sponsors, namely, to our Honorary Consuls Mr. Gijsbertus de Jager and Mr. Bernard Stuivinga. Our gratitude to Tika Tours Georgia and her founder Tika Svanidze for her contribution. A wine importer Andere-Wine is providing Georgian wines for your pleasure and satisfaction. Many thanks to Turkish Airlines and the hotel Staybridge Suits the Hague Parliament. Thank you once again. Without your support today’s celebration would not happen. Many thanks to our compatriot Natalia Chadunely. You will test her culinary skills right after the concert. And of course my gratitude to my great team.