(Interview) Civilization of grape vines and the brand-new ener...
Civilization of grape vines and the brand-new energetic best tourism destination: An exclusive interview featuring Archil Kalandia, the Georgian Ambassador to China
With a history of 3000 years, Georgia is reputed as "God's Forgotten Backyard". For anyone that has visited Georgia has experienced the landscape's gorgeous mountains and rivers, the people's sincere and honest local customs and the country's exceptionally fragrant wine and unforgettable nature.
Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, which joined the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) in 2019 becoming a member city, is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Europe. The city is now among the "European Best Destinations" since its overwhelming uniqueness never ceases to impress tourists, due to its long history, abundance in cuisine, diversity of architecture and numerous attractions. This alluring city shows the public the perfect fusion of the past and the present.
Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, named Tbilisi as the "World Book Capital 2021". Around the slogan "Ok. So your next book is…?", the program focuses on the use of modern technologies as powerful tools for encouraging young people to read.
So, what are the unique charms that Georgia possesses to make itself a favored destination? Archil Kalandia, the Georgian Ambassador to China, unveiled the mystery of this country for us this autumn in the Embassy of Georgia in China.
"Tbilisi is a part of my life"
Tbilisi is one of the oldest capitals in Europe. The name of the city is first mentioned in historical sources from the fourth century; however, it was not a capital then, but a fortified city. Convenient geographical location has contributed to the development of Tbilisi, turning it into a prominent hub between Europe and Asia.
Ambassador Kalandia was born in Tbilisi which is not simply the capital of Georgia but also a part of his life. Tbilisi is a city of rich culture and diversity. "You can visit Orthodox church, Jewish synagogue and Muslim mosque on one street in Tbilisi. This is because the diversity of people and culture in Tbilisi is profound." Tbilisi has been an open, inclusive and friendly city where Jews, Armenians, Azerbaijanis and other ethnic minorities live along with Georgians. A fervent historical and cultural atmosphere is displayed throughout the avenues and streets of Tbilisi. Colorful architecture blending the elements of the past and present shows the casual and simple lifestyle of this city. All the traits of human civilizations tell the history of Tbilisi.
"We are two of the most ancient countries in the world. That is why mutual understanding is much easier for two countries. As an ambassador, a long record of cultural and historical ties between two countries makes my duty more meaningful and easier." Ambassador Kalandia also stated that, due to the aforementioned advantages, Georgia is also playing an important role in the modern Belt and Road Initiative.
7 million bottles of wine exported from Georgia to China
As you have never expected, Georgia is the oldest wine region of the world and, therefore hailed "the cradle of wine". Wine is an integral part of Georgians' lives. They "raise their glasses and toast to celebrate the birth of a new life and bid farewell to the deceased by raising another glass of wine".
Speaking of wine, Ambassador Kalandia introduced to us with passion that "Georgia has uninterrupted history of viticulture and Winemaking which counts 8000 years. We also have special technology for wine-making "Qvevri", which is on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. In Georgia, especially the eastern part, you can find self-produced wine in many families with very special winemaking methodologies. This is why one of the symbols of Georgia is the vine. Georgia is home to at least 525 distinct grape varieties."
The Majority of linguists agree that semantic meaning of the word "wine" is rooted only in Georgian language. The root of the word "ghv" is purely Georgian and is found in many Georgian words. GVINO and then vino, vin, wine and etc.
Nowadays, China has become one of the major importers of Georgian wine. With its traditional and unique wine-making technology and delicate, diverse tastes, wine produced in Georgia is gradually becoming the new normal on Chinese tables. Ambassador Kalandia said, "When I first came to Beijing in 2005, wine culture was becoming more and more popular in this country. Georgia is the only country in the Region with free trade agreement with China. 7 million bottles of wine were exported from Georgia into Chinese market last year and we are trying to increase the amount in the post-pandemic era."
After we completed the interview, the ambassador also invited us to sample collected Georgian wine of various kinds.
"It's a huge responsibility to represent my country here in China"
In total Ambassador Kalandia has lived in Beijing more than 10 years. While being asked to choose a word to describe the Chinese capital, Ambassador Kalandia used "powerful". "Beijing is the political center of China where historical events have taken place. The city is developing very rapidly. It is an amazing place and I can see the power of this city every day."
Ambassador Kalandia has also visited many Chinese cities besides Beijing, with Kunming, Chengdu and Hangzhou being his favorite. As for the features of these cities, Ambassador Kalandia remarked in a familiar tone: "Kunming is a city with amiable climate, hospitable people and a long history. Many historical locations can be found in Sichuan, a place that highly resembles Georgia. Like Georgians, people there can see beautiful mountains and enjoy savoring wine. I like Hangzhou for its historical, modern and interesting features." He finished the talk by saying "but definitely Beijing is number one."
Ambassador Kalandia belongs to the post-80s generation. While being asked about his work as an ambassador in China, he replied: "I am very privileged. For me, it's a huge responsibility to represent my country here in China. My daily life is dedicated to strengthening and deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation between two countries." He also admitted that his backgrounds of being a sinologist (Ambassador had published Monography - Transformation of China in XXI Century and more than 10 articles regarding the Reforms and Opening Up Policy of China) and a professional economist of oriental countries have contributed a lot to his daily work and life. "As an ambassador, I can say that my work is full of challenges".