October 2014

by Alix Hughes

Meeting in the Tbili9si City Hall 5 webThe Bristol Tbilisi Association’s Trade Mission to Tbilisi , led by the Lord mayor Councillor Alastair Watson, has returned home inspired and motivated to increase economic development with partners in Tbilisi. The British Embassy’s Commercial Attache Data Parulava, Tbilisi City Council’s International Relations officer Nino Beglarishvili and Tbilisi Bristol chair and local businessman Kakha Jorjoliani arranged a series of business meetings with the Georgian Chamber of Commerce plus three high profile Embassy contacts including the CEO of the biggest mobile phone company in Georgia. Participants had one to one sessions arranged with counterpart businesses as well as general visits to relevant contacts such as the Economic Policy committee at the Georgian Parliament, the Judiciary department, Tbilisi City Council and Tbilisi State University.

Meeting in the Tbili9si City Hall 3 webFormal dinners had been arranged and guests included the Prime Minister of Georgia and the Mayor of Tbilisi plus government Ministers and City Council elected members.

At every meal the Bristol Georgian choir sang in Georgian and this had a huge impact on those Georgians present as well as the Embassy staff. The Prime Minister even abandoned his departure to listen. Bristol musician Andy Sheppard and his trio took the Tbilisi Jazz Festival by storm resulting in 2,300 people giving them a standing ovation. Unlike all the other stars on the bill, Andy attempted a few words of Georgian which immediately won over the crowd. British Ambassador Alexandra Hall-Hall who drives around Tbilisi in a mini painted in the colours of the Union Jack, played a very important role in our visit: generating press and media coverage on a daily basis, speaking and toasting very positively at the meetings and meals as well as enjoying and commenting on the friendliness and informality of the Bristol delegation. At the reception at the British Embassy with 100 invited guests, we were able to present five Lord Mayor’s medals to key individuals who have supported our work, including one to the British Ambassador who accepted it on behalf of all her predecessors as well as herself.

1507132 Derek  Esther webDuring the lavish banquet at the Funiculare restaurant which overlooked the city as fireworks explodes as part of the Tbilsoba wine harvest festival, the Mayor of Tbilisi presented BTA chairman Derek Pickup with the first ever Guardian of the City of Tbilisi Medal. The Mayor spoke for several minutes about Derek’s unpaid commitment to the twinning over the past 18 years and the participating delegations from other twin cities and from the British, US and Israeli embassies rose to applaud Derek’s devotion to international friendship. The delegation agreed with Derek that really he couldn’t have done it all without his wife Esther’s support and hard work and that the medal belongs to both of them. All in all a memorable, inspiring and rewarding trip

Meeting in the Funicular restaurant 1 web