Georgian PM addresses Global Gateway Forum
Georgian PM addresses Global Gateway Forum

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili addressed the Global Gateway Forum.

Below is his full speech:

“Thank you very much. Dear heads of states and governments, commissioners, ministers, dear friends. It is a great honor and privilege to address the Global Gateway Forum.

And I’d like to thank President von der Leyen for hosting us today in Brussels.

In December 2021, when the Global Gateway Initiative was introduced, European Union invited partners to focus on sustainable development by improving transport and energy infrastructure, to reinforce health and education systems, and to promote digital advancement. Being at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the Georgia’s Strategic Geographic Location has been one of our strongest assets.

Therefore, we have made enhanced connectivity as a priority of our domestic agenda, and we have been working with our international partners and international financial institutions to transform our country into regional transport, logistics, and digital hub. Although Georgia has no land border with the European Union, we have yet untapped opportunities across the Black Sea that will firmly anchor us with the European Union and allow utilizing the full potential of integration into the EU single market, given the ever-growing importance of diversifying and expanding East-West trade, the middle corridor across Georgia is becoming a viable alternative to existing routes connecting Europe and Asia. With enhanced infrastructure capabilities, streamlined processes, and competitive cost, the importance of this corridor is growing. To support Georgia’s position as a regional center for trade and logistics, my government focuses heavily on the development of major infrastructure.

In recent years, significant investments were made to upgrade the country’s roads, railways, and airports, as well as to develop new transport infrastructure projects. These include the Black Sea Submarine Electricity Cable project, which will create transit opportunities and back-to-back trade options of green renewable energy between the European Union and the South Caucasus via Georgia, with improved feeder connections in the Black Sea, will enhance international transit through the Middle Corridor.

The development of the new port, new deep sea port in Anaklia, Georgia, will increase Georgia’s capabilities to ship large quantities of cargo. Furthermore, an underwater fiber optic cable in the Black Sea will ensure fast internet connectivity from Southeast Europe to South Caucasus and beyond, delivering faster and more reliable internet connections to our people. In order to increase the transit potential of Georgia, the capacity of the national railways will increase twice in volume by the end of 2024. Along with planned improvements to major highways and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.

My government is enhancing air connectivity through the construction of a new international airport in Tbilisi which will function as a top tier transportation hub solidifying Georgia’s position as a significant participant in the global aviation sector. Acknowledging the growing energy demand and the urgency of addressing climate change, we are proactively exploring new initiatives within the renewable energy sector. This includes hydropower, wind, solar and other sustainable sources. And as you know, key pipelines across Georgia including major oil and gas pipelines, ensure secure transportation of hydrocarbons from the Caspian and Central Asia to Europe.

All the new transformational projects will bring additional jobs, economic growth and prosperity of people in the region at large. The role of our development partners in implementation of these projects is paramount, of course. Among others, the European Investment Bank is one of the leading financial institutions which supports Georgia and aligns with our priorities since start of operations. The EIB has provided significant amount of loan, more precisely 2 billion euros, in our country. Regardless of complex security challenges and issues. The ongoing occupation of my territory, of our territories, Georgia’s territories by Russia. Other regional and global issues and challenges, which create instability. It’s a challenge for Georgia as well. But thanks to our pragmatic foreign and economic policies, our government has managed to secure an uninterrupted peace and stability.

We maintained a decade of uninterrupted peace in Georgia, and also ensure strong economic growth. Georgia has experienced double digit economic growth for two consecutive years with a GDP growth rate of over 10% in 2021 and 2022, and this positive growth trend has continued in 2023 with an average economic growth of 7% and a very low inflation of below 1%. According to IMF projections, Georgia is expected to maintain its position as one of the fastest roaming economies. Georgia’s record, approved macroeconomic decisions and structural reforms continue to drive our strong economic performance. It is not coincidence that Georgia’s legal, business, and investment environment has been highly commanded in international rankings by various international rating institutions. And I want to mention some of them.

The World Justice Project’s 2023 Rule of Law Index places Georgia as the top-ranking country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia regions regarding the rule of law. Georgia is the top-ranked nation for state budget transparency according to the Open Budget Survey. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, Georgia has outplaced EU-NATO countries. And according to the Fraser Institute’s report Economic Freedom of the World 2023, Georgia is among the top 25 countries with the freest economies. Each step we take aims at transforming, modernizing, developing our country, and bringing Georgia back into the European family, where it belongs.

I want to take this opportunity and talk about Georgia’s progress on our EU integration path. Remarkable achievements of my government, including the association agreement, deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, visa-free regime with the European Union demonstrated geopolitical priority to becoming an EU member state. The recognition of Georgia’s European perspective last June has unlocked a new chapter in our relationship with the European Union.

Recent surveys show that nearly 90 percent of Georgians support the European membership. Importantly, dear friends, we have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to address twelve priorities set forth for the EU candidate status to a vigorous, inclusive, and transparent implementation process. We made strong progress in completing that, and we have taken a good note of all suggestions received from our European partners for the past few months and have made strong progress. Therefore, the Georgian people now anticipate that Georgia’s performance and the current geopolitical context in the region will be fairly evaluated. With perseverance, dedication, and a well-crafted plan to realize our nation’s civilization destiny of joining the European family, we look forward to attaining the candidate status. It is evident that Georgia’s journey towards European integration and strengthening of our global partnership is marked by unwavering commitment and resilience.

Despite the challenges we face, we remain determined in our choice to align with the European Union and its values, and our commitment to a path of democracy, rule of law and transparency remains resolute. Georgia as a European nation and a national global gateway stands ready to strengthen the European Union and to contribute to its better future.”

The forum was opened by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission with leaders of various countries delivering speeches.

Georgian PM was invited by Ursula von der Leyen.