European Lady about Tbilisi...
05 September, 2013
European Lady about Tbilisi...
Interview with Mrs. Eva Berger, Honorary Consul of Austria to Georgia

Mrs. Eva Berger is the Honorary Consul of Austria. She came here in 1998 and opened the Austrian Airlines first in Tbilisi and later on in Baku and Yerevan as at those times she occupied the post of the country director of the company. She says that at that time her 3-year-long contract was prolonged. Therefore, she stayed in Georgia and a year later she was appointed an honorary
consul; till now she holds this honorary position.
G.J: What is your current occupation?
E.B: I am the honorary consul and therefore I am only in charge of cultural and bilateral links. Therefore, I do not respond to visa requests. Those who wish to get a visa for Austria have to go to the Swiss Embassy in Georgia.
G.J: Could you tell us a few words about your family?
E.B: My family lives in Austria; my family is my only daughter. She has a nice job there and therefore she only arrives here for holidays. But she really loves Georgia, like me (smiles). I go there two or three times a year. But I prefer to spend summer in Georgia as I like the heat. I hardly remember such a cool July as it was this summer, while in Vienna it was just the contrary. So, it seems that the climate changes are in the work.
G.J: You have lived here for 15 years now. Have you learned some Georgian?
E.B: Only some. I find your writing very difficult. I can only read my name in Georgian (laughs).
G.J: What were your impressions and how have they changed since the time you arrived?
E.B: It was really hard times then. We had the electricity only for 4-5 hours a day. I got used to it very quickly, I don’t know how. I am adaptable but there were some obstacles too. When you are starting a build-up campaign for the company, you need computers. When there is no electricity, you have to start up the electric generator etc. But you get used to it. My first apartment did not even have the heating but winter was not so cold and I got along (she speaks about these problems which Georgians could stand with difficulty with a surprising simplicity and calmness). Later on, I had this gas container that everybody had. I used it for both cooking and heating.
G.J: Do you cook here and if so, what do you cook - Georgian or Austrian dishes?
E.B: I have the housekeeper, but when I do I cook Austrian dishes because Georgian dishes, especially Khinkali is very difficult to prepare. My former driver was the best cook of Khachapuri and I did not dare to do it myself.
G.J: What about your other occupation?
E.B: We have a lot of projects from Austria. For instance, the twining projects which are different: some focus on Energy control, others on e-government. We have a lot of delegations visiting Georgia; so I am quite busy (smiles).
G.J: What could you say about the cultural events?
E.B: We plan a musical festival in which some Austrian jazz musicians will participate. Georgian folk ensemble “Urmuli” will also take part in it. The latter had a lot of concerts in Austria thanks to our exchange. The festival will take place in October. In November, we will have an art exhibition in Vienna with one Georgian and one Austrian painter organized by E-control.
G.J: What about current links between the two countries - are there any talks about the Austrian embassy to be opened in Tbilisi?
E.B: Not for the moment. But there is the Georgian embassy in Austria.
G.J: From the viewpoint of a foreigner, how do you assess the development of the country since your arrival?
E.B: Now you have electricity, gas and water. But also I want to add that you have developed wines very well. Now you make a lot of European-style wines.
G.J: New markets are emerging. Are there any possibilities for us to enter the Austrian market as well?
E.B: We have some talks with Khareba winery but they are just talks so far. Let’s see. I can tell you that we already have 3 or 4 Georgian restaurants in Vienna. There is one Georgian woman Nana who writes a Georgian cook book there and is quite famous in Austria.
G.J: How do you live here and what do you miss most of all?
E.B: I do not think there is an Austrian restaurant in Tbilisi but Sheraton has an Austrian cook; that’s very nice and I often come here (We met at Sheraton-Metechi Palace). What I am really missing is the Austrian sausages and black bread, which has quite a different taste compared to Georgian black bread. I have some Austrian friends from the twinning projects in Tbilisi and we often meet.
G.J: What is your favorite place in Georgia?
E.B: Kakheti – the entire Kakheti is really beautiful. I like Kakheti because its vineyards somehow remind me of some Austrian places. Austrian wines are usually red and white and much younger than here. So, I prefer the younger wines. From time to time, my daughter brings some Austrian wines to me from my homeland. The mountains here are very nice, they look like the ones we have in Austria but here the mountains are higher than in Austria. The only place, where I have not been, is Mestia in Svaneti. I have traveled so much that now I prefer to have holidays in Tbilisi. As for my hobby, I like swimming.

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