Interview with Nikoloz Gugeshashvili, head of Georgian Diaspora in Ukraine.
You chair Georgia Diaspora in Ukraine. How would you describe the role of Ukraine in relation to Georgia?
Ukraine is a major trade, tourism and political partner of Georgia. Ukraine, as a European country with more than 44 million residents, has huge potential to be an advanced country, and this factor will have a major influence on the development of Georgia. Our countries maintain a strong partnership, and Ukraine has proved this many times. I would like to mention that Ukrainian people backed our fight in Abkhazia: about 300 residents of Ukraine fought in the 1993 war, and they were in the bloodiest sectors, under the command of Major Oleg Bobrovich.
Additionally, Georgia and Ukraine face similar challenges. Both countries strive for membership into the civilized world, and we have made the same choice. Developments in Ukraine have a direct influence on the national interests of the Georgian state.
Please briefly describe the business and economic events between the two countries that have taken place in the past year.
I am happy that these two countries have a cooperative economic experience. Georgia hosts business forums and this is important, but a lot should be still done to fulfill the country’s potential.
How would you appraise bilateral economic relations between Ukraine and Georgia? What potential lies in business-economic relations between Georgia and Ukraine?
Economic relations between these two countries are full of potential, and these relations are part of a tradition. These relations are developed. Ukraine is rich in resources, and proper commercial offers will enable us to implement joint projects. This will grow the economic potential of both countries. It is noteworthy that both Georgia and Ukraine function as transit areas for Asian energy carriers and European technology.
We should not be confined within only business forums, and both governments should develop a good strategic plan for the expansion of mutual beneficial commercial contacts.
Our organization is ready to be one of the key bridges to achieve these objectives, and we are ready to make an essential contribution to the development of relations and contacts between Georgian and Ukraine entrepreneurs. We have interesting plans and we will talk about them later publicly.
Which Georgian products are popular in Ukraine, and will markets be expanded in the future?
Fortunately, many Georgian entrepreneurs operate on the Ukrainian market, and their products are popular. This was demonstrated at the major culture event organized by our organization on June 2 and 3. We have done our best to introduce as many Georgian companies as possible at this event so they could introduce their products to all visitors.
Tens of thousands of visitors visited the event, and we were happy to see queues for the Georgian product advertising and tasting stands. Proper marketing will make Georgian products popular all over Ukraine, and we have to perform a huge job to achieve this. Currently, Georgian products are very popular in Ukraine. Frequently, during personal meetings many Ukrainian businessmen and consumers express positive attitudes towards Georgian products. Our products are considered a “taste of childhood,” and this is an important factor for a successful business in such a big country.
I would like to note that Georgian restaurants are among Ukraine’s top ten restaurants. Naturally, Georgian wines and mineral waters are also market leaders.
We plan to hold bigger events in 2019, and we will invite Georgian companies that operate in Ukraine or plan to enter the Ukrainian market. I would like to express gratitude to Ombudsman Irakli Lekvinadze, who travelled to Kiev and attended our event.
In 2019 we will continue our close communication with him, and enable more Georgian companies, after consultations, to introduce their products to Ukrainian consumers.
I would like to stress that it would be wise to direct the efforts toward potential market expansion, because there is a large market for export products, as Ukrainian consumers are waiting to buy Georgian products.
Over the years I have developed relationships within Ukraine’s business sector, and I do my best to assist Georgian entrepreneurs by communicating with them. I am always ready to promote Georgian entrepreneurs in this country.
How would you appraise tourism relations and what should Georgia do to attract Ukrainian tourists?
Ukrainian tourists arrive in Georgia in all seasons, a developing tendency. The Tourism Administration of Georgia is chaired by a good manager. I know Mr. Giorgi Chogovadze personally. He visited us several days ago and he was a partner of our event, so I would like to express gratitude for his efforts.
In 2017, the National Tourism Administration of Georgia took part in the Kiev International Tourism Exhibition, where more than 200 travel companies were represented from 28 countries. About 15,000 visitors attended the event. The Georgian delegation showed tourism video clips at the event, which raised interest.
In summer 2017, by my initiative and by the invitation of Giorgi Chogovadze, we hosted Deputy Minister of Ukraine Mikhail Titarchuk in Georgia. He supervises the tourism sector. Interesting meetings were held in Georgia, and I believe we will strengthen our relationships in the tourism-industry development sector.
Both countries have huge tourism potential. In this respect I have consulted a number of Ukrainian and Georgian tour operators, and I plan to make my contribution to tourism business development on behalf of both. It is important to further resolve transportation issues so Ukrainian tourists may travel to Georgia more cheaply and comfortably.