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Seminar at the Stockholm School of Economics - The Economics, Business, Politics and Great Wines from Georgia

On 30 March, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economies (SITE) - Stockholm School of Economics (SSE)) hosted a seminar on The Economics, Business, Politics and Great Wines from Georgia. Along with SITE the co-organizers of this event were The Embassy of Georgia, Institute for Security and Development Policy and East Capital. Director of SITE, Mr. Torbjörn Becker made a review of the main macroeconomic indicators of Georgia, the Chairman and CEO of East Capital Mr. Peter Elam Håkansson discussed opportunities of doing business in Georgia, and briefed the audience on East Capital’s investment projects in Georgia. Mr. Niclas Nilsson from the Institute for Security and Development Policy focused on Georgian internal politics, situation in the South Caucasus region, Russia’s impact on the region and the chronology of the August war. Georgian Ambassador spoke about the foreign policy priorites of Georgia, Russia’s destructive policy towards Georgia and the priorities and challenges facing the country. The Seminar was followed by reception and wine-tasting sponsored by the Embassy of Georgia, which provided the best samples of red and white dry wines from Teliani Valley. Around 100 guests form the governmental, academic and business circles got aquainted with the current affairs of Georgian politics, the economy, as well as the centuries old tradition of viticulture and winemaking in Georgia.

SPEAKING NOTES AND MESSAGES (Amiran Kavadze, Ambassador)
Post War Situation in Georgia: New Challenges and Prospects
Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics
30 March 2009

1.      The Russian invasion of Georgia and the international financial and economic crises have changed many things in our country and set country’s new priorities. Now and for foreseeable future our number one priorities: building a legacy of strong democratic institutions, rebuilding our economy
         a.       Georgia has a very clear democracy agenda.
                  i.      Judiciary reform; free and fair elections; getting more free media; non-corruption policy; respect for minority rights, dialog with opposition…
         b.      We have a very clear agenda for re-building our economy.
                  i.      Skillful macro-economic management, economic stimulus, attracting FDI, diversified economy, effective use of foreign aid.
                  ii.      Prosperous Georgia will be more attractive for breakaway regions
         KEY MESSAGE: The Russian invasion of Georgia and the international financial crisis have re-confirmed our European identity.

2.      Integration with Europe is not simply a “desirable outcome” or clever idea: it is essential for both Georgians and ALL citizens of Europe – our destinies are common and inter-linked.
         a.       The Russian invasion showed this.  The economic crisis showed this. The need for energy security shows this.
         b.      We will embrace Europe because it brings common benefits (fulfillment of the ENP Action Plan; Eastern Partnership, harmonization of our legislation).
        c.       We believe that Visa Facilitation agreement will be concluded in 2009; decision on commencement of negotiations on the EU-Georgia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement will be taken soon during Swedish presidency; we hope that Georgia will get positive sign on EU-Georgia Association Agreement by the end of 2009 ant this one will replace old PCA which expires in December 2009.    
        KEY MESSAGE: What happens in places like Georgia it should matter Europe, we live in one common space and can never ever return to the idea of “privileged areas or somebody’s spheres of interest” (we will never dance anymore to/under somebody’s tune).

3.      The Occupied Territories: A Continuing Illegal Occupation
         a.       Russia is in direct violation of major commitments (12 August ceasefire agreement brokered by the EU presidency).
                  i.      No free access for humanitarian aid; no Russian force withdraw; direct violation of sovereignty/territorial integrity; building up of military bases both in Abkhazia and South Ossetia; setting new borders inside Georgia, deployment of border guards at the administrative borders, financing the proxy regimes from Russia’s state budget, subordination of this territories to the relevant Russian state bodies;
         b.      It is of great importance the role of the EU in the Geneva talks and the facilitation of the dialogue between parties on two issues: stability and security in the occupied territories of Georgia, as well as the issues of safe and dignified return of IDPs. 
         c.       The Georgian side welcomes international fact-finding mission launched under the EU auspices in December 2008 to examine the underlying reasons of the Russia-Georgia war.
        d.      Memorandum of Understanding between Georgian Ministry of Defense and EUMM has been signed; through this MoU Georgian side undertook unilateral obligation to restrict the movement of its troops and equipment in the areas adjacent to the ABL (administrative border line); It is essential if EUMM signs similar MoU with the Russian side.
e.       There is no doubt Russia is directly and UNILATERALLY annexing our sovereign territory, militarily and otherwise.
         f.       Russia today is actively attempting to change a democratically elected government in EUROPE, and all mechanisms are being used.

4.      Security Challenges: A Stronger European/Euro Atlantic Partnership
         a.       The answers lie in stronger partnerships diplomatically and on the ground:
                  i.      ON THE GROUND: EUMM extension, real UN peacekeeping in Abkhazia (first step to renew UN mandate with real peacekeepers, extension of the OSCE mission, access to occupied territories, delivery of humanitarian aid.
                  ii.      DIPLOMATICALLY: US, EU non-recognition policy.  Active involvement and support from the New Group of Friends of Georgia.
                  iii.      Euro-Atlantic integration is still on top of our agenda; Getting the NATO Membership Action Plan must be continued; Creation of NATO–Georgia Commission at the level of Foreign Ministers is a positive sign; Signing the U.S.–Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership good security umbrella for Georgia as well;
         KEY MESSAGE: Russia’s behavior puts EUROPEAN security at threat.  A common European/Euro-Atlantic response is our only path forward.

5.      A Vision For Unifying Georgia
a.       Real non-use of force from Russia and surrogate regimes;
         b.      Real de-occupation and return of IDPs and refugees;
         c.       Creation of economic successes that create new ties;
         d.      Further investment in democratic institutions and structures;
         KEY MESSAGE: We have to prove that we can be reliable partners for neighboring countries, despite our disagreements with Russia we should learn how in difficult circumstances to find a common language with our big neighbor. On the other hand, Russia should learn how to have civilized relationship with independent, democratic neighboring country, which shares European values and has its own interests and destiny. 


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