Keynote Speech Delivered by Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia at the Opening Ceremony of ITB Berlin 2023

Published in Culture
Tuesday, 07 March 2023 13:48

Good Evening Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

I am delighted to welcome Mr. Robert Habeck, Vice-Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany; Mr. Dirk Hoffman, Managing Director of ITB Berlin; Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, my dear friend and Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization; Ms. Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council; and, Ms. Franzisca Giffey, the Governing Mayor of Berlin.
Dear Friends, we are extremely honored to host you on behalf of Georgia in this beautiful city of Berlin. Welcome!

Within the Caucasus region, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, our country has been the heart of many civilizations for millennia, being the target of great empires and often serving as the subject of contention between them. Entire history of humankind is represented in Georgia. The country was forming and evolving in constant struggle, in the pursuit of development and freedom, and at the same time, in active interaction with other cultures. It is the cooperation of these cultures that gave rise to the intercultural and tolerant nature of which we, Georgians, are so proud!

Georgia stands out with its unique nature. It is hard to find a land with similar natural diversity and perpetual culture elsewhere.

Almost all climate zones of the planet can be found in Georgia – from subtropical to those of eternal snow and glaciers.

The Georgian nation with its character was formed in such an environment and historical process, with Georgian identity and culture, which is tolerant and respectful of all cultures.

Very few countries exist in the world that have a 3,000-year old history of statehood and a multi-thousand-year national culture. This very culture is one of the fascinating achievements of world civilization and is as old as humanity itself.

Indeed, our history begins from ancient times. The oldest human ancestor in Eurasia was discovered in Georgia. You may well be aware of Homo Georgicus – the first Europeans who lived on the territory of our country almost 2 million years ago and gave rise to the population of modern Europe.

The Georgians have always had a close connection with the ancient civilizations of the Near East or Mesopotamia. The oldest reference to Georgian political establishments can be found in Assyrian sources. The Georgian kingdoms of Colchis, Diaokhi, and Iberia became an integral part of world civilization.

In ancient times, we were an important center of the Western civilization. “Golden Colchis” – this is how the kingdom is mentioned in ancient written sources, next to such important cities as Mycenae, Babylon and Athens. Philosophy flourished in ancient Colchis. The philosophers of Ancient Hellas tell us about the Philosophical School of Phasis, where the Greeks received education themselves.

Archaeological discoveries and artefacts reveal a connection between the Hellenic myth about the Golden Fleece and our reality. Even the ancient Greek historians did not doubt this connection. It was thanks to Colchis, being the country of the Golden Fleece, that Georgia found its rightful place in European culture for the first time. The whole cycle of Greek mythology is dedicated to the campaign of Argonauts in Colchis, while the Greek myths are the main source giving rise to ancient and later European culture.

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