The FINANCIAL — David Zalkaliani – Georgian Foreign Minister and UK Minister for European Neighbourhood Wendy Morton have discussed how Georgia and the United Kingdom can strengthen their partnership in terms of security, defence, culture and trade. The virtual meeting was held today, on September 9 in the framework of the Wardrop Strategic Dialogue. This was first initiated by former Foreign Secretary – William Hague while he was visiting Tbilisi.
During the virtual meeting with foreign officials, David Zalkaliani stressed the importance of implementing the main guide for further relations between the two countries, the Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Georgia and UK, which was signed on October 21, 2019. Morton has mentioned that the UK is unwavering in its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and continues to call out unacceptable ongoing Russian aggression. The conversation also touched upon the existing cooperation of the both countries in the field of defence, NATO-Georgia cooperation, the priority of further deepening of trade and economic relations, according to agenda.ge
Highlighting the importance of relations with Georgia, the British Foreign Office focused on cyber-security, including cooperation in exposing Russian GRU’s cyberattack against Georgia, the 2019 signing of a continuity trade agreement and trade, volume of which reached GBP 186 million in 2019-20, up by 40% since last year. UK is also the biggest source of FDI in Georgia, with 24.8% in Q2 2020. Noting that “Georgia stands at the forefront of Russian aggression, with conflict at its borders since 2008,” the British Foreign Office said, “Georgia’s stability & security is vital for Europe so we’ve stepped up our defense cooperation with Georgian Defence Ministry and NATO.” As part of the Dialogue, Georgia’s Deputy Defense Minister Lela Chikovani and UK’s Euro-Atlantic Security Policy Unit Director David Hogan-Hern signed the finance plan of 2020-2021 defense cooperation, civil.ge reported.
First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab tweeted “Wardrop – the annual strategic dialogue between the UK and Georgia is kicking off, led by Minister Morton Wendy and Georgian PM David Zalkaniani. From trade up 40% to collaboration on coronavirus, it’s a good time to discuss further strengthening ties.” Zalkaniani responded to him and stated that Wardrop Strategic Dialogue is an important platform for enhancing bilateral relationship and that it plays a vital role in and can be useful tool for fostering and getting strategic partnership between two nations to an even higher level. Zalkaliani thanked the British government for their unwavering support for Georgia’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and Euro-Atlantic integration. He said that Georgia appreciates the UK’s contribution to the peaceful settlement of conflicts and that he hopes the UK will further strengthen its positions towards the Russian Federation in terms of conflicts. He also talked about the difficult security and humanitarian crisis in Georgia’s Russian occupied regions of South Ossetia (Abkhazia and Tskhinvali).
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of United Kingdom made a comment about the seventh round of the Wardrop Dialogue in its Twitter post: ”We call these talks Wardrop to remember diplomat Oliver Wardrop & Georgia scholar Marjory Wardrop who cemented the friendship between our countries over 100 years ago.” The Wardrop Dialogue was first initiated by former Foreign Secretary William Hague in 2014 and it was named in honour of the memory of Britain’s first Chief Commissioner to Georgia – Sir Oliver Wardrop.
Last year, the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Mr Christopher Pincher MP, and Mr David Zalkaliani met in London on 21 October in the framework of the Wardrop Strategic Dialogue. This Ministerial meeting followed the signature of the Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the United Kingdom and Georgia, which affirms the strength and depth of the bilateral relationship. This agreement provided a framework for future increased co-operation in foreign, political and security matters, and ensured that the UK and Georgia continued to enjoy comprehensive access to each other’s markets and liberalisation for trade in goods and services as the UK exited the European Union. Both sides reflected on the friendship between the two countries, demonstrated by the success of the UK Season taking place in Georgia this autumn showcasing the best that modern, diverse global Britain has to offer including in culture, sport, education and business.
It is also noteworthy that UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, has increased the capacity of market risk appetite to £3 billion for Georgia this year which is the total amount of risk exposure the agency be willing to support for new businesses in Georgia. Risk exposure is the measure of potential future loss resulting from a specific activity or event. “This additional support will help companies to access finance for projects, opening up new and exciting trade opportunities,” UK Minister for European Neighbourhood Wendy Morton stated on her twitter account. Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani expressed his gratitude to the UK Export Finance (UKEF) ‘for encouraging economic opportunity and prosperity in Georgia, UK Export Finance ‘helps UK companies of all sizes and in all sectors win, fulfil and get paid for export contracts,’ agenda.ge wrote.
It is noteworthy that The U.S Department of State published a report. It said that Georgia is a small but open market that derives benefits from international trade, tourism, and transportation. While it is susceptible to global and regional shocks, the country has made sweeping economic reforms since 1991 that have produced a relatively well-functioning and stable market economy. It ranks seventh in the 2020 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index and twelfth in the Heritage Foundation’s 2020 Economic Freedom Index. Read more.