Medieval Ties – Powerful Bases for Georgia-Cyprus Cultural Cooperation 

I’m honoured to represent Georgia in Cyprus since September 2014. Even the first days of my term have made it clear, that besides historical and cultural values, the European principals and the EU levers strengthen our cooperation.

Both Countries are facing similar challenges today and the most sensitive matter is the sovereignty and territorial integrity. The international organizations’ stance is one of the main issues on the foreign agendas of Georgia and Cyprus. My country highly appreciates the European Union’s continuous contribution to support Georgia’s sovereign rights and territorial integrity and this is the way how Cyprus, as the EU member Country states its supportive stance in favour to Georgia. During last period Official Nicosia has been reflecting its positions in the relevant EU political statements, which have been condemning the serious challenges against Georgia posed by the Russian Federation. On March 2015 Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus stressed that “Since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, Cyprus has been stating clear positions, both within the framework of the EU and during the discussion of the issue in other international forums and international organizations. These are positions which are based on the respect of the international law and the international legality. Our approach regarding the respect of the independence and the territorial integrity of the states has been fixed and clear and this did not change neither in the case of the crisis in Ukraine, nor in the case of the crisis in Georgia”.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Cyprus Authorities for the active support of my Country’s European aspirations. The Georgia-EU Association Agreement, including DCFTA has been ratified by the House of Representatives prior to the “Eastern Partnership” Riga Summit. As a vivid demonstration of the Cyprus’ present stance I would quote Mr Christoforos Fokaides, Minister of Defence, who represented the Government on the Independence day of Georgia: “Our friendship is also seen in the context of the EU, where Cyprus, as an EU member, actively supports the strengthening of the EU-Georgia political association and economic integration through the Association Agreement which Cyprus ratified very recently”.

This is one of the tangible results of our cooperation. It’s in the EU framework, but in short-term future it can also increase the prospects in various bilateral fields. However, for this moment we already have some significant achievements. I would highlight some of them:

The economic diplomacy is one of the main pillars for both countries, but Georgia-Cyprus bilateral economic indicators are very low compared to the existing potential. Thus during last year some needs have been identified for conceptualizing the further process and the first steps have been successfully completed: the governments signed the Double tax Treaty, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Cyprus and the relevant Georgian Organization was also signed and in the nearest future we are expecting the completion of the procedures for the Bilateral Business Association establishment. Alongside that, active negotiations have started for promoting Tourism between two countries.

The Byzantine and post Byzantine culture, the medieval ties are very powerful bases for Georgia-Cyprus cultural cooperation. The 10th century’s Georgian Monastery in the village Gialia, which was a strong educational centre for that period, is one of the ancient links of our nations. We are proud because, despite ongoing excavation, conservation process, the Monastery is becoming a popular archaeological site and the number of visitors is continuously increasing.

We are taking an active part in the project “OLKAS”: “From the Aegean to the Black Sea” – medieval Ports in the Maritime Routs of the East” (“OLKAS” is co-funded by the European program «Joint Operational Program" BLACK SEA 2007-2013"» and by national resources, it is coordinated by the European Centre of Byzantine and Post Byzantine Monuments (E.K.B.M.M.)). The idea aims to promote the medieval city–ports of the Black Sea and the cultural heritage preserved in them. It’s the contribution to the development of cultural tourism. Georgia has presented four medieval city–ports and the exhibition will take place in the biggest Cyprus cities during this year. The Georgian Embassy will host the event in November, 2015 in Ayia Napa. It is important that during the past year the exchange of high level visits has been activated. It makes me hopeful and optimistic about our further plans and achievements.