BY THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Georgian Ambassador to Mexico Zurab Eristavi hosted a national day reception at Mexico City’s Club Naval Norte on Thursday, May 31, to mark his country’s centennial and the 27th anniversary of the reestablishment of that nation’s independence.
“Georgia first proclaimed its independence on May 26, 1918, and I want to remind you that Mexico was one of the first countries to officially recognize our sovereignty,” Eristavi told his guests at the start of the event, which included a lavish, sit-down luncheon.
“That republic lasted only 1,028 days – just short of three years – until the Soviet occupation.”
The young Caucasian nation was attacked by Soviet troops and was forcefully incorporated into the Soviet Union in February 1921.
Eristavi explained that it was not until after the fall of the Soviet Union that Georgia was able to reclaim its sovereignty.
“On this symbolic day, we celebrate the 27th anniversary of our second independence in 1991, when Soviet occupation finally came to an end,” he said.
“The Georgia of today is the direct political and legal inheritor of the first Georgian democratic republic.”
Eristavi pointed out that throughout the entire 73-year Soviet occupation, Georgia’s leaders, who remained in exile in France, never accepted nor recognized Moscow’s sovereignty over their nation, thus always maintaining the spirit and commitment of the Georgian people’s national freedom.
But Eristavi also noted that Russia once again invaded part of Georgia in 2008, and Russia still occupies the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“Consequently,” he said, “this date also reminds us that our struggle for independence is not yet over.”
The ambassador sarcastically added that Russia had, in its own scathing fashion, sent a caustic congratulatory message to Georgia on the occasion by coaxing its lapdog Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into officially recognizing the so-called independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, also known as Tskhinvali.
With this action, Eristavi said that Assad had aligned himself with the likes of Vladimir Putin of Russia, Nicolás Madero of Venezuela, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Baron Waqa of Nauru, all leaders with dubious records concerning human rights and respect for international law.
“Show me the company you keep, and I will tell you who you are,” Eristavi said.
The envoy went on to say that, despite Russia’s ongoing aggressions against the Georgian people, his government has strived to find a peaceful solution to its conflict with Moscow.
“Thank God, we are no longer alone in our struggle, the way we were a century ago,” Eristavi said.
“We now have the broad support of the international community, and in Latin America – especially in Mexico and Central America – we have found close diplomatic partnerships, not only in the political sphere, but in a wide range of fields.”
Eristavi listed a series of cultural, academic and scientific events that have helped to foster the growing bilateral friendship between Georgia and Mexico.
Notwithstanding, combined two-way trade remains low, about $23 million annually, with Georgia selling Mexico magnesium, construction materials and airplane parts, and Mexico exporting tequila, beer and soap operas to Georgia.
Georgia has tried to booster commercial relations through cultural and touristic promotions, as well as efforts to foster mutual awareness.
Eristavi said that the third round of bilateral political consultations took place last April, and that the fourth round is slated for early 2019 in Tbilisi.
He likewise recalled that Georgia is currently helping to rebuild the Humberto Esparza Villarreal School in Xochimilco, which was badly damaged in Mexico’s Sept. 19, 2017, earthquake.
“I do not subscribe to that premise that nations do not have friends, only interests,” Eristavi concluded.
“What I do believe is that partnerships are broadly based on the human principles of mutual respect for liberty, brotherhood and unity.”