Reuven Rivlin .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, will pay a state visit to Georgia early in the new year. The visit is scheduled for January 8-10.
He will be given an official welcome by President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who will also host a state dinner in his honor. In the course of his visit, Rivlin will discuss issues of mutual interest with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and parliament chairman Irakli Kobakhidze.
On the second day of his visit, Rivlin will spend time with the leadership of the Jewish community of Georgia.
Israel and Georgia formally established diplomatic relations on June 1, 1992. Less than a decade later, Israel began to sell arms to Georgia, and former IDF officers helped train the Georgian army.
Military cooperation all but ceased in 2008 because Israel did not want to engage in any activity that might antagonize Russia. However, there is strong cooperation on other levels, such as technology, and science, education and culture, telecommunications and tourism.
In fact, during the near freeze in relations between Israel and Turkey, many Israeli tourists discovered Georgia. Some 60,000 Israeli tourists now visit Georgia each year.
Margvelashvili was in Israel in October 2015, at which time he delivered an address at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya’s Forum for Diplomacy at the Institute for Policy and Strategy, which is part of the Lauder School for Government.
At that time, he spoke of how Georgia began to develop its own state following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and attributed much of the success in that endeavor to the country’s Jewish community, many of whose members have since migrated to Israel. He credited the Jewish community with bringing Georgia into the 21st century.