Irakli Kobakhidze’s Visit Brings New Level to Georgia-Israel Relations

The Georgia-Israel relationship is set to grow in 2018. Despite the fact that the relationship between these two countries was stable for the past 25 years, this year, in October, Georgian Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze’s official to Israel visit bought new light to both sides. During this visit, work strategies for the upcoming year were planned. In the relations of two countries, special attention is to be paid to education, economic contacts and connections of the capitals.

Georgia-Israeli economic ties mark almost three decades. The inflow of investments from Israel has never stopped, with the 1990s seeing the launch of the Georgia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, and more than $500 million invested in the country. This at a time when investments from Israel were reduced to other sub-regions, for example in Eastern Europe. The Georgia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce works on deepening economic relations and protecting business, and making it faster and more flexible.

The Georgian side believes that it is important to deepen economic relations with Israel, because of the fact that the potential is great. For this purpose, Kobakhidze's visit to Israel saw the decision being made that both countries will develop a general agreement on cooperation in the economic sphere, serving as a form of action plan.

The agreement reached during Kobakhidze's visit did not end with his leaving as Israeli House (organized by member of the delegation of the delegation, Akram Hasson), was invited by the Minister of Economic Development of Israel. Akram Khason Knesset's ruling coalition member and his party is a government Economic bloc holding the portfolio. The Minister of Economy, at a meeting of the Israeli MP, reiterated Israel's willingness to reach a qualitatively new stage of cooperation between two countries in this field.

The visit of the Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia to Israel also saw a call for cooperation in the field of education. On the second day of the visit, Knesset members, analysts and media representatives in the delegation held a meeting with heads and students of higher education institutions of Georgia. The delegation welcomed Holocaust Studies in two universities of Georgia.

It was noted that the Israeli side is ready to share with Georgia experience in education. One example is that of Karmel, an academic college which envisages implementation of joint programs with Georgian universities, and exchanges of students and joint studies.

Work in education will continue in 2018 and includes well-developed areas such as Haitian, medical fields and more. The Georgian side's statement was an important message for the Israelis that Georgia does not need additional motivation in relations with Israel. On December 15-17, supervisors from the Israel delegation in Tbilisi, brought messages that reflect the official position of Israel. A member of the Friendship Group of Knesset Georgia, Itzik Shmuli, said that there are no hidden agendas in the relations between the two countries and welcomes the Georgian side's wish that next year be busier and more productive. According to the Israeli parliamentarian, he saw this potential during Kobakhidze’s visit to Israel. It is noteworthy that the Israeli delegation was received by the Chairman of the Parliament. The meeting lasted longer than planned and saw the sides analyzing the results of the delegation's visit to Tbilisi. It is said that in January, another group of the Israeli Knesset is scheduled to come to Georgia. The head of the delegation, and head of Israeli House, Isik Moshe, says that frequent communication between the parties is almost set until the end of 2018.

The Israeli House initiative, in conjunction with the traditional directions, is to have in the forefront the topic of mutual approaches to youth. "Communications between Georgian Universities and Israeli Institutes are focused on a new generation that will have independent relations between the two countries," said Moshe.

One of the novelties in the latest official visits was a trip to Jerusalem. During his stay, Kobakhidze also invited the Mayor of the capital of Israel to Tbilisi. This visit will be the first seeing a Mayor of Jerusalem visiting Georgia. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, who was accompanied by the Israeli delegation and head of tourism administration of Georgia, Giorgi Chogovadze, attended the launch of construction of a luxury hotel in Tbilisi on December 17. Kaladze welcomed Israeli investment and promised support, while, according to Chogovadze, the growing trend of tourism in the country contributes to the inflow of new investments.

2018 is a jubilee year for Georgia and Israel, seeing both countries marking the date of independence. According to Moshe, both sides will be able to act according to the set plan, and by the end of the year, have a representative delegation visit Tbilisi which will take part in a summit and ceremonial events. “With the active work of Israeli House, we now have fewer intermediaries in the Israeli-Georgian relationship: the Ministry is in contact with the Ministry, business gets along with business, and the interests of the state is at the first place. The protocol visits are loaded with more content, and the Israeli press is even more interested in Georgia. We believe that this trend should be the main line of future plans,” Moshe added.

Israeli House projects not only complement the official diplomatic missions and the general work of the embassies, but also the work on the Hasbara, which makes it even better to show true Israel. Israeli House, together with Knesset members, sees Hasbara products not only in Georgia but also in Eastern Europe. Even here, the relationship with Georgia acquires the format of a model of what kind of links Israel should have with a friend country.

Liza Nadibaidze

21 December 2017 20:17