This year marks the 25th anniversary since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Georgia. This year is doubly remarkable for the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC) as it also marks the 10th anniversary since the establishment of the Chamber in London.
In connection with these significant events, the BGCC held a reception sponsored by the BGCC’s new member, Regus Georgia.
“In 2007, we had our opening,” BGCC founder Mako Abashidze told the guests. “Since then, there have been more than 80 events in Tbilisi and London and 12 press tours, the first of which was in September 2008 when a group of British journalists were brought to Georgia to cover the post-war events. The BGCC has also organized a number of cultural events, taking to London Georgian dance ensembles, musicians and artists. We work very closely with both embassies and I offer my thanks to them for their support”.
Abashidze also thanked the Georgian Tourism Administration and National Wine Agency for their joint initiatives promoting Georgian wine in the UK, one of the results of which was to have Georgian wine as a permanent offering at The Ritz Hotel in London.
“I also want to thank ''Georgian Airways'' for opening direct flights between Tbilisi and London this year,” she said. “It makes a huge difference to business and tourism connections. And I thank our hosts, Regus. The Regus in Georgia is not just another office building but is a statement and a clear sign that Georgia is becoming part of a big network of global businesses”.
Honorable guests from Great Britain and Georgia, including British Ambassador to Georgia, H.E. Justin McKenzie Smith, and representatives of BP, PwC, The Biltmore, Georgian Airways and Wedgwood enjoyed drinks and a buffet at the event in the presence of Lord Cromwell, Member of the British Parliament, Honorary Chairman of the BGCC Board of Directors, who himself was present at the BGCC’s first opening.
“Cast your mind back over 10 years,” Lord Cromwell told the audience. “There have been a number of interesting events, both on the world economy and, more locally, some challenges to overcome, and it’s a credit to the Chamber that they have continued through this whole period; in particular, a credit to all the members. 10 years ago, before my first trip to Georgia, I told people where I was going and they thought my destination was a state in the US. When I told them it was a country in the Caucasus, they thought it was a part of Russia and I, of course, corrected them. Before I came this time, 10 years later, when I told two of our office ladies where I was going, the immediate reaction from one was, ‘Oh, I know Georgia- my brother was there doing business just last week.’ That is how far Georgia has come in 10 years. Georgia has really established itself as a hub for business, looking to Europe, to the Middle East- the whole region. Stability is one of many assets it has and is a great reason alone for companies and investors to come and do business here,” Lord Cromwell concluded.
British Ambassador Smith closed the welcoming speeches with a poignant message on British-Georgian relations. “Over the last 24 hours alone, we’ve had a visit by the British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Georgia, we had a reception at the Embassy for a specialized British company that is connected with the healthcare sector, and we’ve been preparing for the UK-Georgia Business Forum at Mansion House in London in two weeks’ time,” he said. “I truly feel that the development of business relationships is starting to take on a life of its own. That doesn’t happen by itself: it takes time, patience, and it is thanks to the BGCC and Mako Abashidze that we have got to this point through some difficult years. I can say I’m optimistic and confident about our shared future”.