“Georgia is not Ukraine…“
06 March, 2014
“Georgia is not Ukraine…“
Exclusive interview with German Ambassador to Georgia

Georgian-German ties date back to 12th century. In the realm of science, and this is shared by the Director-General of the Georgian National Museum, the Caucasian Museum was founded in 1865 under the leadership of Gustav Radde. He put up the first building for the museum. Besides science and culture, Germans have played an important role in the development of Georgia’s economy as well. It is merely enough to name the Siemens brothers.
Germans built museums, theaters. Arthur Leist translated the Rustaveli’s Knight in a Tiger’s Skin in German for the first time. The Georgian Museum of Fine Arts keeps quite a worthy collection of works of German-Georgian artists. Georgian Journal has once again has met with his Excellence Mr. Ortwin Hennig, German Ambassador to Georgia. We talked about a range of issues that we hope our reader will find interesting to read.
G.J: You have just presented a beautiful calendar to me. Here it says that German-Georgian ties date back centuries...
O. H: Our first contacts date back to 12th century. During the battle of Didgori in 1121, which the Georgians won against selchuks and which laid the foundation for the great Georgian Kingdom, German crusaders fought side by side with Georgians. The medieval German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who is still very popular in Germany today, wrote a letter around 1180 to Giorgi the Third, King of Georgia, and proposed his son’s marriage with princess Tamar, who later became Queen Tamar (note: In Georgian history, she is known as King Tamar). This shows the influence Georgia used to enjoy in those days already and the good relationship Georgia used to have with Western Europe. In 1817, the first German”colonists” as you call them, arrived from Southern Germany to live here. In 2017, we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of their arrival. Those Germans founded a number of hotels, pharmacies and the first cinema in Tbilisi. In 1900, their number had already increased to 12 000. In October 1941, upon the Stalin’s orders, all people with German roots, at that time roughly 40.000, were deported to Central Asia. There are still many traces of those first settlers, with their typically German buildings but they are in a very poor condition now. Only a couple of “Georgian Germans” came back in 1960s. Today, their number in Georgia is approximately 900 and they have formed their association of German-Georgians called “Einung”. Entrepreneurs, painters, architects, scientists, and artists, have enriched Georgia’s economic, cultural, and intellectual life. By the way, the Siemens brothers, the founding fathers of the renowned German company used to live and work in Georgia. They were also first German diplomats to Georgia, representing the North-German Union from 1867 -1871, the forerunner of the German Reich. What is also interesting is the fact that many young Georgian intellectuals - as an expression of political discontent - intentionally went to Munich, Berlin or Leipzig for their studies, rather than to Moscow or St. Petersburg. They returned [to Georgia] in the second half of 19th century with some new ideas, to stand at the origins of the Georgian National Movement.
G.J: What about the current people-to-people relations?
O.H: Upon the initiative of the Embassy and with the support from the Georgian governmental authorities, Georgians and Germans have just founded Club for the Preservation of the German Cultural Heritage in Georgia. This club has been registered under the Georgian law. It is of great importance because now we can attract potential German and other sponsors who wish to contribute to preserving and restoring old buildings, monuments etc. We will present this newly founded club to a broader public on 6 March at 6pm at the National Museum. The Vice-Director of the National Museum Mr. Michael Tsereteli will open the event together with the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maia Panjikidze. After a short presentation of the exhibition catalogue Germans and Georgians - from Middle Ages until Today the event will continue with the presentation of the Club for the Preservation of the German Cultural Heritage in Georgia.
In 2010, the German International School Tbilisi was opened, and it is developing well, with both German and Georgian pupils attending. For Georgian kids and their parents it is attractive because of the fact that the children not only learn German but also their native Georgian language and Georgian history etc. In addition, they will pass the German school leaving examination, which is internationally recognized and opens the door to universities worldwide. We also have close ties and partnerships between universities, and a lively exchange of students and scientists. We have quite a few exchange programs. We have the Goethe Institute and the German Academic Exchange Service. Every year I have the pleasure to say farewell to around 100 young Georgians students and post-graduates, who leave for Germany with a DAAD – German Academic Exchange scholarship. I would like to add, though, that my wish is to see more young German students come to spend some time at Georgian universities to make our exchange a more balanced one. But I understand that the language is a big barrier in this respect.
G.J: How popular is the German language?
O.H: German is spoken by roughly 100 million people in Europe. A German speaker can communicate with around 20% of all Europeans. The German language has a 200 years old history in this country, beginning with the first German colonists. The first foreign language was German. I hope this tradition will be kept and continued in the future. The decision for German is also a political decision for Europe because the German language plays an important role in the European institutions. I would like to tell all Georgian youngsters: English today is a must but German or any other third language is a plus. Languages are part of education. Influence and reputation which Georgia enjoys in the world depends on brains of her young people. I have mentioned it already in the past and I will repeat myself: Georgians and Germans have a different mentality but their cultural mentality is similar. Like Germans, Georgians have a liking for philosophy, music, literature, science. They have had great achievements over the decades. If I were to express a wish, my wish were to see more young Germans come to Georgia because there is an imbalance in the number of Georgians going to Germany and Germans coming here. This is, of course, due to the lack of knowledge of the Georgian language but if we manage to encourage the learning of the Georgian language in Germany this would be very good. We do have university institutes where the Georgian language is taught – we have this long and outstanding tradition of Caucasiology faculties at German universities – a tradition that, unfortunately, is declining.
G.J: Talks are going on for Georgia to be a host for the Frankfurt Book Fair. How would you comment?
O.H: Yes indeed, Georgia will be the partner country at the renowned yearly Frankfurt Book Fair in 2018. Negotiations between the Georgian Minister of Culture and management of the Frankfurt Book Fair have just been successfully concluded. This will be very important for Georgia, culturally as well as politically. It will boost the translation of Georgian literature into German and make Georgia and its cultural treasure known to a broader German and international public.
G.J: Do you think that there still exist some threats to Georgia after the Ukrainian scenario?
O.H: Your government says that Russia does not have real levers to put pressure on Georgia at her disposal any more, neither economic or political, nor military ones, as the Russians have already conquered 20% or your territory. You have survived the economic embargo. I think your question, therefore, describes a hypothetical scenario, which I do not expect to happen here. Georgia is not Ukraine. But I am afraid that Russia might use more subtle, soft instruments playing on centuries-old cultural and religious ties. If there is a lesson, though, that I draw from the Ukrainian events it is the following one: in this part of the world nothing can be achieved against Russia. What is called for now is a cooperative, not a confrontational approach between all interested parties in order to calm down the situation and avoid spill-over effects. But let me be crystal-clear: calling for a dialogue with Russia does not mean to grant Russia a “droit de regard” in our affairs.
G.J: Thank you.
Print
Other Stories
Massive celebration in Armenia after Prime Minister resigns
The world witnessed how Armenia, Georgia's neighbor country, united around one aim managed to peacefully bring a change by struggling with patience for more than a week in the center of Yerevan.
Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigns
Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan has issued a statement announcing his resignation.
Famous Swedish DJ Avicii dies aged 28
Artist, DJ, and producer Tim Bergling, a.k.a. Avicii, died Friday afternoon in Oman.
White House backs UK decision to expel Russian diplomats
The UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats after Moscow refused to explain
World famous physicist Stephen Hawking passes away aged 76
World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, BBC reports.
Mikheil Saakashvili to settle in Netherlands
Former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili will be settled in the Netherlands after the expulsion from Ukraine,
Time puts Mikheil Saakashvili on the list of 5 most wanted geopolitical fugitives of 2018
The Time magazine has put former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili on the list of 5 most wanted geopolitical fugitives of 2018.
Cranberries lead singer Dolores O'Riordan passes away aged 46
Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer with the multi-platinum band the Cranberries, has died aged 46,The Guardian reports.
Department of State included Georgia among safest countries to travel
The Department of State has issued new type of safety and security information worldwide for the U.S. citizens.
How Does NASA Wish to Divide Kenya?
Is NASA`s new bill intended to divide Kenya into two nations? Will the People's Republic of Kenya appear?
Kenya forbids all street protests to protect private businesses
Kenya's government has officially forbidden all demonstrations in Mombasa, Nairobi, and Kisumu.
 Suspected Barcelona terrorist identified
Police arrested an additional suspect wanted in connection with Thursday’s deadly terror attack in Barcelona, foreign media say.
Barcelona terror attack – Latest news
At least 13 people were killed and 100 injured on Thursday
Lagos to Throw Out Illegitimate Traders near Obalende Bridge (R)
On July 24, the government of Lagos State ordered all people to take away their illegal buildings and shanties located around Obalende flyover.
13 Kenyan police officers killed in two days
On Thursday, May 25, five police officers were murdered when their car hit a roadside bomb in northeastern Kenya.
Best Nigerian Newspapers Today — Read Nigeria News

Breaking news in Nigeria today has become a vital issue for plenty of African Internet users.

Emmanuel Macron, 39, becomes France's youngest president
France is celebrating the victory of Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen.
A Little Boy Whose Mother Died in the Accident Has Left Us After a Year
Why did the Kenyan boy die after a year? What did Kenyans do to save the boy and what is their reaction? Read the information below to learn the latest news.
London attack: Latest updates from the terror epicenter
The police are investigating the deadliest terror attack in central London.
Sharapova in Georgian designer David Koma dress at Oscars Party
World-famous tennis player Maria Sharapova appeared at the Oscars Party clad in an exquisite dress by a recognized Georgian designer David Koma.
Syria conflict: Putin says government agrees truce with rebels
The Syrian government and rebel groups have agreed a ceasefire and to begin peace talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced, - the BBC reports.
How celebrities react to Donald Trump becoming US President
Even though, Hillary Clinton had the support of far more celebrities than Donald Trump did during the race for the White House the new President of US has become Trump.
 US election 2016 result: Trump beats Clinton to take White House
"Donald Trump will become the 45th US president after a stunning victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton,
When authority means more than rating
What and which channels should I watch on TV? - This is the questions millions of people ask themselves every day.
Earthquake in Italy claims at least 247 lives
Italy earthquake: eight-year-old girl pulled alive from the rubble after being trapped for 17 hours.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
18.09.2018
19.09.2018
USD
1
USD
2.6156
2.6156
EUR
1
EUR
3.0498
3.0498
GBP
1
GBP
3.4259
3.4259
RUB
100
RUB
3.8379
3.8379
Other Stories
Terrifying accident that took place in Georgia’s one of the most popular Gudauri
La La Land was mistakenly announced as having won Best Picture at the 89th Annual Academy Awards, but the honor actually belonged to Moonlight.
President Donald Trump promised a new era guided by one principle – "only America first"
Iconic pop star George Michael has passed away at the age of 53 on Sunday, December 25th.
Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt citing "irreconcilable differences", the actress's lawyer has confirmed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced a coup attempt as an "act of treason"
A lorry racing into a crowd after Bastille Day celebrations in the French city of Nice has killed at least 84 people, injuring at least 18 more
A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk international airport has killed 36 people and injured more than 140 others, BBC reports.
Georgian journalist Ketevan Kardava took photos of the immediate aftermath of the Brussels attacks one week ago today.
At least 70 people - mostly women and children - have been killed at a crowded park in Pakistan in a suicide blast
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.6156
EUR
1
EUR
3.0498
GBP
1
GBP
3.4259
RUB
100
RUB
3.8379
September 2018
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30