4 Years of Amb. Beruchashvili, 1st Female Ambassador of Georgia to the UK


After four fascinating years in London, my tenure as Ambassador of Georgia to the UK has now come to an end.

It has been a great honor and a privilege to serve my country as the first female Ambassador of Georgia to the UK.

Four years have gone by very quickly, which is usually a very good sign! It has been a truly rewarding experience, extremely enriching both professionally and personally; very interesting time indeed to learn more about modern British politics; observe and report about Brexit, and to work hard with my brilliant Embassy team to fulfil our mission to bring UK-Georgia relations to a higher level in these challenging times.

Today, our partnership is growing from strength to strength: The UK is a devoted supporter of Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as our European and NATO integration aspirations; We are united by shared values and have common interests in preserving the rules-based international order and we face common challenges, including relations with Russia; The UK is already the one of the largest investors in Georgia, and our bilateral trade is increasing steadily.

Looking back, I am really proud of what we have achieved.

During the last four years, our bilateral partnership reached new heights. Allow me to mention major highlights which are particularly important for me:

• Last October, Georgia was the first European country to sign a historic “Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Cooperation" with the UK. This agreement established a comprehensive new legal framework between our countries after the UK leaves the European Union. This is the only agreement of this type signed at ministerial level by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia David Zalkaliani and the Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the UK, Dominique Raab.

• In 2016, the UK-Georgia bilateral ‘Wardrop Dialogue” was upgraded to the Strategic level, and based on four main pillars, successfully transformed into a platform for developing political, defense and security, economic, and people-to-people ties between our countries. It also covers governmental, parliamentary and expert dimensions of our bilateral agenda;

• With strong support of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Georgia, and its chair Jonathan Djanogly, at the UK Parliament, we have cemented the parliamentary dimension of this format. As a result, Georgian and British MPs enjoy regular annual exchanges, and produce comprehensive Joint Communiqués contributing to the overall dynamic of the Georgia-UK bilateral agenda;

• In 2018, the first ever the Early Day Motion dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First Democratic Republic was tabled in the UK Parliament, which emphasizes critical issues for Georgia, like sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Russian occupation of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as European and Euro-Atlantic integration;

• Since 2016, together with other important issues, the grave human rights situation in the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia is regularly presented by the FCO’s annual Human Rights Report;

• In 2018, the First Honorary Consulates were established in Bristol and Gibraltar, headed by two prominent Friends of Georgia: Derek Pickup and Edwina Haynes;

• As Ambassador of Georgia, I paid the first official visits to Gibraltar and Northern Ireland;

• A number of MoUs were signed with chambers of commerce and business associations, among them in Wales, Scotland, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland;

• As the world’s oldest winemaking country, Georgia is better known today in the UK, and Georgian wine export is rapidly growing every year, having reached a record high of 60% last year;

• On the top of that, the 8000-years-old Georgian Qvevri winemaking method was introduced to the UK’s Plumpton Agricultural College curriculum, together with the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce;

• Partnership was established between the Shota Rustaveli National Foundation and the University of Oxford, making a Georgian Program possible, and doubling the number of Georgian researchers at Oxford;

• A Georgian section was opened at the UCL Library and the first book about Georgia was published by the Bodleian publishers;

• In partnership with the Bodleian Library, we Celebrated the 150th anniversary of Marjory Wardrop, a pioneering British scholar and the first translator of Georgian literature;

• In May 2019, the Embassy of Georgia to the UK initiated and organized a Diplomatic Trip to Georgia with the participation of 30 prominent guests: acting and former Ambassadors from eight countries (Slovenia, Slovakia, Honduras, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Germany, Ecuador), Members of the House of Lords and House of Commons of the UK Parliament; and representatives of business, academic and Christian organizations, and their spouses. Our group visited Kutaisi, Borjomi, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Kvareli and Tbilisi and, thus, was able to discover Georgia’s history, culture and its economic and business opportunities. This trip was a phenomenal success and proved to be the best example of Public Diplomacy, further promoting Georgia as a popular destination;

• I am proud to have initiated and planned the first Georgian Season in the UK that will present a series of events unveiling the rich Georgian culture, history and modernity throughout 2020;

• Last but not least, after 28 years since the re-establisment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the UK, the Georgian Embassy finally has its own home at Pimlico, 20 St. George Square, which is also very symbolic, as England and Georgia share the same patron Saint: St. George!

We all agree that Diplomacy is about promoting our national interests, but above all it’s about building bridges between our peoples. And it this regard, I am very proud of more than 30 years of dynamic cooperation between the Twinned cities of Bristol and Tbilisi, and Newport and Kutaisi; an increased number of Georgian students in UK universities, more academic exchanges and Georgian language courses at Oxford and UCL, exchanges in sports like rugby, when the England rugby team invited the Georgian Lelos for joint exercises to learn more about their famous strong scrum! In addition, during the last years, low-cost flights between Kutaisi and London and Georgian Airways Tbilisi-London flights have greatly contributed to the 35% annual increase of British tourism to Georgia, not to mention the Khachapuri mania, that reached the UK as well!

When I reflect on UK-Georgia relations, I am encouraged by the great progress, but there are some attainable goals remaining. As the UK is committed to remaining a strong contributor to European security, I hope for a timely decision about the UK’s enhanced engagement in Georgia after Brexit, including reintroduction of the position of Special Envoy for Conflict Resolution.

We also look forward to the timely appointment of the new Trade Envoy to Georgia to foster trade and investment ties with Georgia, ranked 7th in the world for Ease of Doing Business by the WB (Mark Pritchard, MP did great job in that position in the last two years!)

Another goal is to get visa procedures simplified and rationalized to encourage more cultural, business and educational exchanges.

Finally, I look forward to the day when we can organize a big exposition of the Georgian culture at the British Museum as well as introduce the fantastic Georgian National Dance Sukhishvili company to the UK audience!

It might sound like an Oscar acceptance speech, but I wish to express appreciation and gratitude to many people for their respective contributions to UK–Georgia relations. My heartfelt thanks go not only to British and Georgian officials in the Government and Parliament, but also to diplomatic colleagues, and many, many friends from various sectors, business, educational and cultural institutions.

In the last four years, I have been blessed with great friendship and support of the Georgian community in the UK, including the Georgian Orthodox Church, Georgian schools, dance group, business chamber, the British-Georgian Society, and many others. Collectively and individually, they represent a great asset for our societies and countries.

As we all know, more than in many professions, diplomacy is a team effort. So I want to say a huge "Thank You" to my great Embassy team, who have helped me immensely and with passion to move UK-Georgia relations forward. I hope I have been a good boss and that you will remember me as a friend.

And finally, my successful mission in London would not have been possible without the strong support of my family: my dear husband, who has been shuttling between Tbilisi and London all this time, my son back home, my daughter, a final years’ student of the Westminster University, and my dear father, who is very proud of my achievements.

I am leaving my position but not leaving London. It is a great honor to continue my work as the Permanent Representative of Georgia at the International Maritime Organization, a job I enjoyed hugely in the last four years in parallel with my bilateral portfolio. We made great progress in promoting Georgia as an emerging Black Sea country with great maritime potential, committed to the international rules-based system. There is intensive work ahead to organize Georgia’s 3rd International Maritime Forum, GIMF2020, in Batumi (September 15-17), as well as to further activate all dimensions of our maritime diplomacy. I hope the old new page will be as adventurous and fulfilling, if not more so.

Finally, my special thank you and high appreciation to Georgia Today for its continued interest and excellent presentation of the UK-Georgia strategic partnership during the last four years.

I’m looking forward to continuing that close cooperation in future.

By Ambassador Tamar Beruchashvili

24 February 2020 18:59