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Georgian Embassy in Berlin Celebrates German-Georgian Relations

The “Literaturhaus Berlin” hosts an intercultural event to commemorate the last 100 years of friendship between Germany and Georgia

January 17th, 2020
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On 15 January, Germany and Georgia had good reason to celebrate: facing both ups and downs on their common path, both countries are able to look back at a hundred years of successful bilateral relations. On this occasion, the Georgian Embassy in Berlin invited the public to join its celebration of the historical as well as present-day relationship between the small country in the Caucasus region and Germany.

To this day, many people in Germany still might know this place only very vaguely: tucked in between Europe and Asia lies Georgia, a country with a breathtaking natural landscape, vibrant cities, and a turbulent historical record that can be hardly described as boring. During the celebratory event at the “Literaturhaus Berlin”, the Georgian Ambassador to Germany Dr. Elguja Khokrishvili; political writer Enrico Seewald; the member of the National Assembly's European Affairs Committee Matern von Marschall; the director of the literature museum Tbilisi Dr. Lasha Bakradze and Dr. Bidzina Lebanidze from the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena served as experts who enlightened the audience about the development of Germany’s relationship to Georgia.

During the discussion, the international board of panelists explored the fascinating political, cultural and economic ties between both countries. According to Seewald, Georgia first became of interest to German politicians during World War I due to the country’s strategic military position and its abundant natural resources. As a result, Germany sought to establish good diplomatic relations with Georgia - a mission which proved to be particularly successful when Germany made the bold decision to become the first country to recognize Georgia’s independence in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in 1918.

Since then, Georgia has moved increasingly closer to the sphere of influence of the European Union. According to panelist Matern von Marschall who has visited the country repeatedly, “Georgians have a strong yearning for European values”, which serves as a solid foundation for the countries’ contemporary bilateral relations. Particularly the power and value of cultural exchange was repeatedly emphasized throughout the discussion: during the Frankfurter Book Fair in 2018, for instance, Georgia was invited as the main guest country and used the opportunity to market itself successfully as an attractive tourist destination for Germans. International events like these remain of paramount importance to stimulate Germany’s interest in the country, which is - according to Matern von Marschall - additionally confirmed by Germany’s consistent sympathy and understanding for Georgia’s wants and needs during political international conferences.

Despite the celebratory mood of the event, the panelists did not shy away from raising important suggestions for improvement. In particular Germany’s hesitation to support Georgia’s desire to become a NATO member country was described as a difficult moment in the German-Georgian friendship. More specifically, Georgia’s involvement in so-called ‘frozen conflicts’ was used as an explanation for Germany’s reluctance, which ultimately contributed to the failure of Georgia’s request to join NATO back in 2008.

Although these developments undoubtedly cast a long shadow over the relations between Georgia and Germany, Ambassador Khokrishvili remains optimistic about the countries’ common future. As one door closes, another opens - and in the case of Georgia, this new door is called the admission into the European Union. Khokrishvili does not tire to emphasize that the country devotes its full attention and energy to this goal, which in his view depends as much on the advancement of democracy in Georgia as on a clear dissociation from Russia. While it remains to be seen whether Georgia manages to succeed in this political mission, this goal undeniably marks an important stepping stone for future relations between Germany and the ambitious country in the Caucasus region.

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Mae C. Müller

Berlin Global, News from Berlin