‘We are developing in the right direction‘
South Korea is a country of great interest for us, as it has many things in common with Georgia. As a result of geopolitical problems, the country is divided in two and the demarcation line runs a few dozen kilometers away from the capital. It is always under constant tension and despite such troubles the country has developed very rapidly since the 1970s. Similarly, it has quickly managed to establish its spot in the world market and became a role model. This is to be merited to successful reforms. It sets an example for Georgia, which is what we are actually doing today. In fact, others say that Georgia has become an example for our region, just as South Korea has become an example for its region.
When we think about the existing problems in Georgia today ― there is still much poverty in our country ― we should take into account that the income in South Korea was approximately 10 times less than that of Georgia in the 1970s, at the time when South Korea started to rapidly develop. It was a very poor country and it has taken them even more time to overcome poverty than us. What we have achieved in recent years has taken them around two decades, perhaps even more ― since the 1950s basically, up to the end of the 1970s. Hence, this is an example for Georgia.
I met with business groups all day long and many projects have been planned ― there will be a hotel built in Batumi, a huge multi-profile hospital in Tbilisi, as well as energy projects implemented such as the construction of hydro-electrical stations. Several memoranda were signed. In a nutshell, we are talking about investments of several millions of dollars, to be made after their arrival. This in turn means tens of thousands of jobs; it is a huge merit and impetus for our country. The President of South Korea has specifically mentioned several times that Georgia is a country, which in terms of the absence of corruption transparency and the results of the reforms, is absolutely unique in our region. That is why we need to sustain all of this and for me this is an example of how to move forward. In fact, the two main sectors that they pursue are education and healthcare. This is precisely what we are doing and for this reason it was a very interesting visit.
The nuclear security summit was very interesting in itself. Perhaps Georgia is not a nuclear state, but our participation had symbolic political meaning and it clearly indicated the regional significance of Georgia. Besides, we are one among the founders of this summit. There were other countries from our region represented at the summit as well, which were added, precisely because Georgia was present there. Perhaps, our northern neighbor does like it much that we are among the first ranks in such a significant venture, especially since they declared us to be a political corps a long time ago. They will have to live with it, in fact for the long run, because Georgia will not become extinct, neither will its current political course change nor will they be able to achieve what they intend with regard to the Georgian government, which they thought to have already accomplished. They still hope that we will “evaporate.”
One of the main things that the local businessmen are working on now is to start direct flights between Seoul and Tbilisi. All in all, we have to become a regional center in terms of transport, and especially in terms of air transport, as Singapore has. In fact, I arrived through Singapore and I was struck on the one hand, while on the other I recalled that we are doing precisely the same thing. I have become convinced that we are on the right track. I saw these tall buildings, but we will have exactly the same in Batumi and other places in Georgia in 5 to 8 years maximum. Now that I have seen Singapore and South Korea as well, I have understood that no matter who says what, we are developing absolutely in the right direction. In fact, Koreans are very much like Georgians ― warm and hospitable, spontaneous and it is one of the oldest Christian nations in Asia with a very interesting culture.
Besides this, we certainly have to export Georgian wine. We have discovered that as opposed to other Asian countries, they like and appreciate wine very much here. You see international wine brands everywhere you go in South Korea. Our companies often establish themselves in markets that are already saturated. Koreans are also very curious people; they seek out new innovations now and we have to approach such things more creatively. I am sure that there is no problem at all with the recognition of our wine and of course, in this regard, we surely have to help our wine producers.
Besides this, the implementation of many projects are also planned, e. g. in terms of the development of tourism. As I have told you, they will start the construction of hotels in the coming months in Batumi ― a Korean business group will start the construction of a vast service and entertainment complex. They plan to open a factory to produce electric lights/illuminators, which will be exported across the entire region. This means that our people will find employment, yet the products will be for export. Similarly, they plan to build a factory to produce the batteries for electric cars. No one will doubt the capabilities of Georgians and their intellectual base in Georgia, where we already have engineering technologies with which we plan to produce Lazika and Didgori. That is why we have to attract these people. While discussing the issues of production development, we have to bear in mind that it is a job for people who have experience and who look for conditions, where no one takes bribes, where the best environment is created and intelligent people live.