Georgia hopes to re-establish India trade links with new understanding.


New Delhi: With the re-election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, Archil Dzuliashvili, Ambassador of Georgia to India, hopes to rediscover and re-establish trade links with India with new understanding, ensuring diplomatic progress between Georgia and India. On 26 May, the eve of Georgia’s Independence Day, at the Embassy of Georgia in New Delhi, the envoy told The Sunday Guardian, “Georgia and India have survived plenty of historical challenges and India needs to have a resident mission in Georgia. We want to re-establish what was before but with modern technology and understanding.”

“Although India had recognised Georgia’s independence on 26 December 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and established formal diplomatic relations on 28 September 1992, opening diplomatic representation in Georgia will enable the former to gain a strategic partnership with the Caucasus region, thereby expanding its connectivity strategy towards Europe. Cargo flow between both countries needs to increase, for Georgia’s trade does not reflect the level of our relations with India, we want more,” he added.

Asked about the status of the Joint Statement on launching the Joint Feasibility Study on the Free Trade Agreement signed between India and Georgia on 11 April 2017, Ambassador Dzuliashvili seemed optimistic, as the both Sides already signed the respective document on completion of a Joint Feasibility Study on FTA on 11 January 2019 and talks are underway. He also said that the signing of Air Service Agreement between the two will facilitate direct flights very soon.

After a brief presentation about the rich heritage of wine making, that dates back to over 8,000 years, presenting a few Georgian wines to the gathering, the envoy said that his country was looking forward to start wine trade with India. As one of the oldest wine-producing nations of the world and some distinct winemaking techniques, Georgia can boast of serving history in a glass. “Wine is our spirituality, the national pride of Georgia, an integral part of Georgian culture and the oldest tradition. In the course of its centuries-old history, the country has developed a unique winemaking technique: pouring grape juice into kvevris, clay vessels buried in the earth up to their tops, and then sealed. Wine quality in Georgia suffered under Soviet rule but now we are looking forward to start high quality wine trade with India,” said Dzuliashvili.

“Our taste for tipple may be an ingrained evolutionary trait that distinguishes us from others. Georgia is the birthplace of wine—telltale signs of wine in pottery jars, ancient wine vessels, wine barrels dated to the second and third millennium BC, silver and gold cups for drinking wine, traces of vine seeds found in the ancient tombs of the Bronze Age, all lead to one thing—millennia of viticulture experience, which is inseparable with the country’s national identity,” said the Embassy officials.

Speaking about the grape varieties, Dzuliashvili said, “Historically, over 500 varieties of grape grow in Georgia, which are well-known for their unique properties. Georgian grapes are unique, they are only for Georgia—Shavkapito, Kisi, Chinuri, Saperavi, Ojaleshi, Dzelshavi, Jani, Tsitska, Krakhuna, Rkatsiteli, and so many other varieties. Russian embargo helped us come back as a strong force, allowed our winemakers to explore different markets of the world.”

A few guests at the gathering agreed that while wine regulations in India were complex and many don’t even have a licence to serve the beverage, restaurants in luxury hotels and fine-dining destinations will impress with expensive offerings and diverse cellars. Indian wines produced in Nashik and Nandi Hills, especially Shiraz, Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, are some of the most authentic options.

On offer was a variety of the best that former Soviet Republic had to offer, including dry, semi-dry, sparkling, sweet, and semi-sweet varieties of red and white wines—there was Mtsvane, Saperavi, Amber Dry Wine Rkatsiteli and Chacha Rkatsiteli. Also, there was Georgian brandy along with Khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread), Nigvziani (egg plants with walnuts) and Ajapsandali (vegetable stew).

Speaking to this newspaper, the Ambassador of Georgia, said, “When someone talks about India, a few things that come to your mind are wisdom, old civilisations, variety and diversity of culture, a place full of life and great hospitality, a place where you find great energy, a country with which we want to develop links. I think India understands the ‘meaning of freedom’ and that is why we want to take this relationship forward.”