Georgia is located "on the crossroads of practically every vital interest of the West and East” in the region, says Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
He believes this is what makes the country valuable to its neighbors and partners in the context of building security architecture.
He also believes that thanks to a liberal trade regime, low taxes, and its strategic location, Georgia has become a new regional frontier for investment opportunities.
Kvirikashvili opened the annual South Caucasus Security Forum in Tbilisi today. The forum, which has been held for the fourth time already and become one of the major international security platforms in the South Caucasus, brought together experts and policymakers from the region and beyond.
Kvirikashvili spoke about the path Georgia has come through until today and reiterated the government’s goal to join the European Union and NATO.
"During the last twenty-five years since Georgia regained its independence, we transformed ourselves from a country wasted by civil war, into a dynamic, democratic state. The Georgian people have made their goal of joining the European Union and NATO not only a priority, but a destiny leading to higher standards of democracy, security, peace and prosperity in our country and the region”, he said.
"It is now time to reaffirm and solidify cooperation between Georgia and our Western allies as the foundation for regional security and economic development.”
You can watch the full speech here.
He stressed that today Western partners view Georgia through a "different prism” and believe in Georgia’s ability to remain an "island of stability”.
"In Georgia, hardware meets software”, Kvirikashvili said, adding that a few years ago Georgia signed a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, which means access to the Single European Market of 500 million people.
"We are an open window to the economies of Central Asia and the Far East. In this respect, we provide physical access through modern transport infrastructure and normative access in terms of free trade agreements,” he said.
He added that Georgia has already finalised negotiations and the country will be the first country in the region to have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China. It also has in place FTA agreements with the CIS, Turkey, and GSP regimes with the United States, Canada and Japan and plans to launch a FTA negotiations with India this year.
Kvirikashvili said that Georgia highly values its increasing involvement in discussions regarding Black Sea security.
He added that Georgia looks forward to continued cross-regional dialogue and coordination, while it maintain its dialogue with Russia, and hopes that they will eventually understand that stability in the South Caucasus serves the interests of Russia itself.