Fresh Diplomat with Fresh Impressions
01 March, 2012
Fresh Diplomat with Fresh Impressions

Exclusive interview with Latvian Ambassador to Georgia

Georgian Journal is pleased to disclose that this is the very first ever interview for the Latvian Ambassador to Georgia Ms. Elita Gavele who happens to be a newcomer. Latvian diplomatic representation is quite young in Georgia – it was set up  in 2006. Latvia has a new ambassador and a new building, so it’s going to be a brand-new interview as well… 

 

G.J: When did you arrive in Georgia?

E.G: I came here at the

end of November of 2011. We had the traditional meeting with all the ambassadors accredited in Georgia, then there was a Christmas period and I actually began working here from the beginning of January. It was a very hard job because it is not just moving luggage from one place to the other, but we had to transfer the system of security and all the accompanying preparations, which was a tough job. Recently, I had my first official meeting with the Speaker of Latvian Parliament who arrived in Georgia on official two day visit. It was very  important for us that the Speaker of Latvian Parliament inaugurated the new building of Latvian Embassy on February 13. The speaker of  Georgian Parliament also attended the meeting, as well as all European Ambassadors, Georgian officials, Ambassador of NATO and representatives of  art and culture. I must admit that this is the first mission for me as of an ambassador, the first interview and the first high-level visit of a Latvian official during my mission. So, everything happens to me for the first time…

G.J: What were your first impressions?

E.G: I have been here for several times before. I did not know this country very well but I knew where I was coming as an ambassador. First time I was here in a very difficult time for the country – it was the last month of Shevardnadze’s rule.  I was here as a tourist that time. I new that Georgians were very open-minded and dignified people. Second time, it was in 2007 when I accompanied the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, during our visit to all three South Caucasus countries – it was my next step of acquaintance with Georgia. The third time I came here as an ambassador.  I can tell you that on my first visit here, I toured the State Museum of Georgia and I at once discovered that you are the nation of great culture, but then everything was engulfed in darkness and we could hardly make out your national treasury back in 2003. Now I have met with the Head of Georgian State Museum and I couldn’t imagine that it was the same museum. For me it’s interesting as I saw all this dynamics and changes within these years. I am very proud of you and your government because very much has been done compared to 2003.

G.J: What can you say of this country as a person?

E.G: The same my colleagues have siad – music, dishes… and of course, Pirosmani. His works are so primitive but they always manage to tell the story. You can always tell what happened before and what will happen afterwards. Now, I am glad that his exhibition is in Tbilisi Picture Gallery and I have visited it three times. I have been in eight other countries. You are not a very big country but we have to learn from you the sense of national pride. If I compare Latvia to Georgia, we did a lot – we had some financial crisis in 2008, etc, and we always say that maybe we should have done much more but when Georgians are doing something well, they say: well-done, well-done, and this pride of themselves and their history is very important. People in general are very well aware of their history.

G.J. You mentioned that you have been in a number of countries. Can you compare Georgian cuisine to those countries you have visited?

E.G: I don’t agree with my colleagues that the Georgian cuisine is heavy. It depends on what you are eating. The Latvian food is a bit heavy like the Georgian food. I tried Khachapuri once or twice and I just stopped as I know what will be the results of it – I am a woman and I must retain some optimal physical form. I find your vegetables and food absolutely wonderful. Every week I go to some markets and buy grapes, some mandarins, apples, cucumbers and tomatoes… My driver tells me: ‘Elita, stop it! It’s not a right time and right season for them!” But I cannot wait till summer. I adore Churchkhela (the sweets made of grape juice and nuts) and dried persimmon (Chiri in Georgian). I have visited Bakuriani winter resort and have tasted for the first time in my life the jam of small pine cones – absolutely amazing! Your cheese is also wonderful.  I’m looking forward to the summer time (smiles with anticipation).

G.J: What do you do during your leisure time?

E.G: I have been skiing for 28 years and therefore, I think that Bakuriani and Gudauri are going to be my bases. I like Gudauri more because there are three slopes and I can ski very well there. I cannot afford it as we are still very busy but time will come when I will start thinking about my pleasure. Meanwhile, work, work and work…We have a political diary – Chicago Summit, relationship between Latvia and Georgia, etc. I drive my car myself, you feel much freer that way. I always carry a map. This Christmas, my daughter arrived to celebrate with me and we visited Davit Gareja. To say nothing about the monastery, the road from Tbilisi, is extremely nice, all these mountains meeting you up. My daughter was so impressed that she immediately fell in love with this country and wishes to come on Easter and in August too. I tell her: ‘The world is very big, stop it!’ But she likes Georgia. We are going to visit Davit Gareja again.

G.J: What can you say about our bilateral relations?

E.G: We have very close contacts with the Georgian Embassy in Latvia and it is very important. In the near future, the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Grigol Vashadze will visit Latvia. We are also preparing the state visit of President Saakashvili to Riga in May. So, it’s quite a busy timetable. There will be a big celebration of your Independence Day on May 26, here in our embassy. We will invite you by all means.

G.J: Have you heard of the event recently organized by Georgian Journal, which was called ‘Ambassador of the Year’? What do you think about it?

E.G: Yes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend it because all the ambassadors were complaining that they were too busy that day – 7 different events were taking place altogether. Therefore, I couldn’t come. However, we, the whole diplomatic corps have a very friendly relations with the Ambassador of USA Mr. John Bass and appraise him as a very clever and bright person indeed. Therefore, it was no surprise that he became the winner of the event. It’s a pity that he is leaving Georgia soon. I can tell you that I have not heard about such event of awarding the diplomat of the year in other countries where I have lived and worked. So, I think it’s a new thing and I really approve of it.

I must add that the interview took place in an absolutely comfortable atmosphere. I did not even feel that I was talking with an Ambassador. I was utterly happy and pleased; then I realized that it was thanks to Ms. Elita’s professional background – she has the experience of working in the field of Public Relations. Georgian Journal  hopes that it will be a satisfying and challenging mission for Ms. Gavele and it wishes all the best to her in fulfilling her goals of strengthening the links between the two countries. And of course, we wish her personal happiness.

 

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