President of Israel Reuven Rivlin has arrived in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi for a two-day official state visit today.
"We are proud that we are friends with Georgia and I thank you for making us feel at home in Georgia”, Rivlin said as he spoke at a joint press conference together with Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili earlier this afternoon.
Israel's Rivlin (L), Georgia's Margvelashvili shake a hand as they speak at a joint press conference in Tbilisi. Photo by the President's press office.
A Long-lasting friendship
This year Georgia and Israel are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"I’m in Georgia today to celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two nations but it has been far longer than 25 years that Jews have been living in Georgia. The [local] Jewish community is a bridge between Georgia and Israel and a demonstration of the friendly relations between our countries”, Rivlin said.
Georgia's Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili hosts Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at the Government's Administration building in Tbilisi. Photo by the PM's press office.
Georgian Jews are one of the oldest communities in Georgia, tracing their migration into the country back to the Babylonian exile and expulsion in the 6th century BCE.
The 2600 - year - long history of the Georgian Jews is notable for its lack of anti - semitic events and a visible assimilation of the Jews of the country into the Georgian language and culture.
United against terrorism
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili began the meeting with Rivlin by expressing his sadness over yesterday’s terror attack in Jerusalem, claiming the lives of four and injuring more than 10 others.
"This was an act directed against humanity and Georgia stands by you in your fight against terrorism”, Kvirikashvili told the Israeli President.
Margvelashvili stressed Georgia’s commitment to and the role the country has played in ensuring global peace.
"Georgia is a reliable partner and contributor to global peace despite the fact that 20 percent of our territory is occupied by Russia and 15 percent of our population is internally displaced”, Margvelashvili said.
Georgia's Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Israel's President Reuven Rivlin enjoy the views of Tbilisi. Photo by the PM's press office.
Tighter economic ties
One of the main aspects of today’s meeting concerned deepening trade and economic relations between Georgia and Israel.
The Georgian side pointed out the existence of a liberal, stable, secure and corruption - free business environment in Georgia, which, together with Georgia’s strategic location at the crossroad of Europe and Asia, makes the country attractive for investments.
Considering these factors, Margvelashvili called on Israeli businessmen to invest in Georgia, especially in the developing fields of renewable energy, agriculture and tourism.
Kvirikashvili further mentioned that in 2016 100,000 Israeli tourists visited Georgia, which is a 75 percent increase in comparison to 2015.
While in Georgia, Rivlin is scheduled to meet the country’s Parliamentary Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze before concluding his visit tomorrow.
Presidential couples of Georgia and Israel. Photo by the President's press office.
The Israeli President is accompanied to Georgia by his wife Nechama Rivlin. The two First Ladies, Nechama Rivlin and Maka Chichua, made the time to enjoy the views of Tbilisi Old Town from the yard of Metekhi Church this afternoon.