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15th anniversary of Georgian-Swedish diplomatic relations

The 19th September 2007 marked the 15th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the Kingdom of Sweden. The last 15 years were quite intense with a lot of positive developments in our bilateral relations. Despite the different location in the European continent and significant distances between our countries, bilateral cooperation has been dynamically progressed with genuine understanding of problems of each side and coinciding positions on a number of topical issues of international affairs.

Certainly, our diplomatic relationship has its prehistory. In 1888 the foreign ministry of the United Kingdom of Sweden and Norway decided to open a vice-consulate in the Georgian city of Batumi. This small diplomatic mission was located in the capital of Georgian province of Ajara and at the beginning was subordinated to the Swedish consulate in Odessa and since 1914 it had been operating under the coordination of the consulate in Baku till 1921, when newly the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia was occupied by the Bolsheviks’ Red Army. The second part of 19th century was characterised by the vibrant changes in the South-Eastern Europe. That was the time when Nobel brothers have started investing money into the Caspian Sea oil exploration and production and they launched a sea gateway for oil transportation from Caspian basin to Northern Europe.

It should be recalled that in 1918, just after the dissolution of the Russian Empire, the newly independent Democratic Republic of Georgia opened its diplomatic representations in the main European countries. The first ever Georgian Ambassador with residence in Stockholm was Mr. Michael Tsereteli, who was later replaced by Mr. Aristote Tchoumbadze. But after annexation of Georgia by the Bolshevik Russia the Georgian diplomatic representation located in Stockholm at Tegnérlunden 5, had to cease existence due to financial restrains. During the very first years of independence of Georgia the Georgian diplomacy was seeking recognition by the major international actors and we are more than grateful that the Kingdom of Sweden was among the main supporters of the young Georgian state. 

The times of Soviet domination did not bring anything significant to our relationship. In September 1992, just after the break up of the Soviet Union, Sweden once again welcomed the reestablishment of Georgia’s independence. The decade and a half that has passed since this important date was a testing time for our relationship. Today we are proud to state that our country has moved from a weak state with attendant challenges and frustration in early nineties to a dynamically developing democratic society.

We are grateful for Sweden’s political support and encouragement of our European aspirations that we were and are receiving from Stockholm. The assistance in various fields, particularly - democratic governance and human rights, economic development, conflict management and regional initiatives deserve particular emphasise.

Strengthening economic cooperation with the EU and its member states is one of the priorities of the Georgian Government. In this respect, enhancing economic cooperation with Sweden both in bilateral and multilateral formats is of paramount importance. We admit that the trade turnover between Georgia and Sweden is far below of its capacity. However, the new, promising developments in our relations and the existence of strong political will on both sides created real opportunities for boosting our economic cooperation. We are interested in Swedish market, especially for exporting Georgian wines and other alcoholic beverages as well as agricultural products and mineral waters. Today Swedes can buy the best samples of Georgian red wine in the shops of Systembolaget.

The liberal economic policy of the Georgian Government has created a business friendly atmosphere and we encourage Swedish investments to do business in our country. Georgia could also be a promising market for products of Nordic countries. Sweden is sharing its vast experience in telecommunications sphere: the famous Swedish brand TeliaSonera is successfully operating in Georgia as the shareholder of the second biggest mobile cell-phone company – Geocell. Sweden is well-known with its machinery, car making, paper and wood industry as well as communications, information and other innovative technologies, which are so welcome in Georgia.

In the 21st century, when distance is no longer an obstacle and borders are transparent, we can further strengthen cooperation between our peoples by sharing the rich cultural diversity, knowledge and experience with each other.

In 1920, while closing down the Georgian Embassy in Stockholm, Georgian Ambassador to Sweden Mr. A. Tchumbadze wrote a letter in Swedish to the Swedish foreign minister: "… I have the honour to inform you that I am today relinquishing my post as Ambassador of Georgia. I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the Swedish government and people for excellent relations, great support which was rendered during the most crucial time of my country’s history and as well as assistance and generous hospitality I gained during my work in Sweden. This support was channelled in de facto recognition of democratic, young Republic of Georgia. It is in the interest of both countries to continue political, cultural and economic cooperation, which will bring closer our two nations in future…” I do believe that our generation of politicians and diplomats will spare no effort to follow the path of our ancestors and will do everything possible we can for maintaining and increasing our bilateral cooperation in the future.

Gela Bezhuashvili

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

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