Geographer to Fulbright Scholar, to Head of the European Department Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, and now the Georgian Ambassador to the U.S., Archil Gegeshidze explained to an enthusiastic Wittenberg audience “Why [the country] of Georgia Matters.”
A longtime relationship with Olga Medvedkov, Wittenberg proffessor of geography; Jerry Pankhurst, chair of the department of sociology; and Gerry Hudson, retired professor of political science, brought Ambassador Gegeshidze to campus. With multiple Ambassadors visiting the campus, it was a day not to be missed.
Ambassador Gegeshidze came to Wittenberg to “raise [Americans’] appetites” for Georgian culture, politics and religion, and to raise awareness of Georgia’s world agendas. While those in attendance learned of Georgia’s history, origins of its name, its wine and of the many other appeals why one might visit Georgia, there was also discussion on an issue of possibly the greatest importance: Georgia’s relationship with Russia. Gegeshidze explained this in great detail.
Gegeshidze’s presentation featured many illustrations of what he described as Georgia’s geographical importance to the world — most namely, Russia. Georgia’s Black Sea’s coastline is shared with a very diverse group of neighbors: Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. The Black Sea’s warm water ports are of great and centuries-old importance for the Russian Navy. Most of the USSR’s control of this coastline was lost with their collapse in 1991.
As the world saw in 2008 with the Russian invasion of Georgia, and this year with history repeating itself in Russia’s invasion and takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea, oil billionaire and ex-KGB President Vladimir Putin’s quest to bring back the power of the USSR can’t be under estimated, all according to Gegeshidze. Russia’s military, including its Navy, is currently undergoing a $640 billion rearmament program, according to “RIA Novotsi,” a Russian news outlet. The importance of the rest of the Black Sea coastline, including Ukraine’s last port in Odessa, can’t be overlooked, according to Gegeshidze. Even with these issues, Gegeshidze stressed that the goal Georgia is to have a positive relationship with Russia.
Gegeshidze’s priority as Ambassador is not only to promote Georgia, but to speed the way for Georgia’s entry into the EU.
Georgia matters. Politically, economically, geographically and socially, according to Gegeshidze.
Possibly the most most enthusiastic persons at the event were those persons who had been to Georgia on a Wittenberg-sponsored trip in 2012. With positive comments on everything from the warm welcomes, the food, wine and sights, this country on the Black Sea sandwiched between Russia and Turkey should not be overlooked, Gegeshidze said.
Ambassador Gegeshidze ended his presentation with an invite open to all to visit Georgia.