Georgian ruling party Chair awarded for promoting Georgian-Basque ties

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, said the award was a “great honour” to him. Photo: Georgian Dream press office, 30 Jan 2023 - 16:10, Tbilisi,Georgia

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Sunday received the highest prize of the Sabino Arana Foundation for his contribution to promoting Georgian-Basque ties, democracy and human rights, the party press office said. 

Accepting the award at a ceremony in Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country in Spain's north, the Georgian official highlighted similarities between Basque and Georgian languages, folklore and traditions. 

He told the audience it was a “great honour” to receive the award from the Foundation named after the writer considered the father of Basque nationalism. 

Describing Georgia as a “small but very proud country” that had fought “for centuries” to “protect its identity, land, religion and language”, the lawmaker said citizens of the country “particularly value patriotism and people loyal to the motherland”. 

That is why I am particularly proud to receive the award named after the great patriot - Sabino Arana”, he said. 

Kobakhidze highlighted scientific conclusions pointing to a historical connection between Basque and Georgian peoples and highlighted winemaking as an “essential feature of our cultures, which shows that we share common roots”. 

The official noted he and his colleagues supported strengthening ties between Basque and Georgian communities by facilitating agreements for twinning several cities in Georgia and the Basque region and launching a Basque language department at Tbilisi State University. 

Kobakhidze addressed the audience at the ceremony organised by a local ruling party in a Bilbao theatre. Photo: Georgian Dream press office. 

Let me also mention that we have planted several Guernica trees throughout Georgia, which is a symbol of the strong bond and friendship between Basques and Georgians”, he said. 

Pointing to the ongoing occupation of 20 percent of Georgian territories by Russia, Kobakhidze cited peaceful reintegration of the regions as the “main national goal” of the Government, and said the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war had created threats of seeing the conflict spread to Georgia.

It was the main goal of our Government to prevent this from happening, and we have successfully achieved it. Georgia firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and condemns Russia's military aggression in all international forums”, Kobakhidze said, adding “at the same time, we are pursuing a pragmatic policy to prevent escalation and promote peace in the region”. 

He also told the audience the Government was mediating between the neighbouring countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the context of their long-running conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in a bid to achieve peace in the South Caucasus.

We believe that there is no alternative to peace and development, and all nations must consistently follow this path”, the party Chair said. 

Emphasising Georgia’s “important political and economic role”, he also pointed out his country had a “great potential” to further develop its transit function and capabilities given its role as a connection between Europe and Asia.

Thanks to [maintenance of] peace and consistent policies, the Georgian Government managed to achieve double-digit economic growth in 2021 and 2022. With this trend, Georgia becomes even more attractive for cooperation for all its friends and partners”, he noted. 

Kobakhidze also told those attending the event about the Government’s work for seeing the country become a member of the European Union, and said he hoped Georgia would receive the bloc’s membership candidate status later this year.