Cicero Martins Garcia: Georgia is now much more known in Brazil


Interview with Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Brazil to Georgia H.E. Cicero Martins Garcia.

– What are political priorities of Brazil in the Southern Caucasus and Georgia?

– Brazil is represented by resident Embassies in all three Southern Caucasus countries: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Embassy in Tbilisi opened in June 2011, a year after Georgia had opened its Embassy in Brazil. Brazil recognized Georgia as an independent state on December 26 1991, and both countries established diplomatic relations on April 28, 1993. The first Brazilian Ambassador to Georgia was Carlos Alberto Asfora, from 2011 to 2015; I took over the post in August 2015.

Brazil has been watching the evolution of political situation in the region with a great interest and has established friendly relations with Georgia and all its neighbors. Brazil praises the positive development of democracy in Georgia, supports its territorial integrity, and hopes for a peaceful solution in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a solution that would bring these regions back to the control of Tbilisi so that they are effectively integrated into Georgian space, as well as the displaced Georgian citizens will be able to return to their places of origin.

Both Brazil and Georgia respect and promote democracy, human rights, freedom of press and expression, independence of the judiciary system, rights of minorities, and I hope these values will prevail worldwide. The practice of multilateralism in international relations is also a very important tool to promote democracy both among countries and within each country.

– Which high-level visits have already been accomplished and which events are being planned for the nearest future?

– Since I arrived in Tbilisi, several high-level visits on behalf of Brazilian authorities have taken place. In December 2015, MPs Cláudio Cajado and Antonio Imbassahy arrived to Georgia as representatives of the Brazilian Parliament, as well as to South Ossetia (ABL).

In November 2017, H.E Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, accompanied by a diplomatic delegation, arrived to Tbilisi; for the first time a Foreign Minister of Brazil visited this country. He had an intense agenda, reviewing all bilateral subjects and analyzing regional and global questions. Minister Ferreira had official meetings with the President of Georgia, Mr. Giorgi Margvelashvili, the former Prime Minister, Mr. Giorgi Kvirikashvili and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mikheil Janelidze. Finally, a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism was signed.

During the official visit to Tbilisi in June 2018, the Minister of Justice of Brazil, Mr. Torquato Jardim had meetings with the Minister of Interior – Mr. Giorgi Gakharia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs – Mr. David Zalkaliani, the Head of the State Security Service of Georgia – Mr. Vakhtang Gomelauri and his counterpart, Minister of Justice of Georgia – Mrs. Thea Tsulukiani.

As for 2019, it is yet early to predict any other possible visits, since the new President, HE Jair Bolsonaro, will take an oath on January 1st next year, and only then will a new agenda be prepared. It is the Embassy’s role to attract the attention of the new administration to the significance of Georgia and the development of bilateral relations in all their aspects: political, economic, commercial, and cultural.

– What was the impact of opening of the Embassy on the development of bilateral relations?

– The answers given to the previous questions partially apply to this question as well. The correct accompaniment of the political evolution of the country and the high level visits that took place would not have been possible without the presence of a resident Embassy. The coordination of positions in international “fora” has also benefited by the resident Mission. A resident Ambassador has permanent contacts with the authorities of the receiving country, as well as with its politicians, diplomatic corps, businessmen, artists, and society in general. The commercial and cultural relations thrive with the presence of the resident Ambassador and his staff. The commemorative concert of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and five cinema festivals are examples of the cultural benefits of the resident Embassy, as well as the commercial mission that took place last April.

– Which fields are prospective from the viewpoint of the development of economic relations? Last year In April, the Brazilian trade mission visited Georgia in order to activate and diversify economic relations between both states. Are you planning to visit the representatives of the business sector in Georgia?

– In April 2018, Brazilian business mission arrived in Tbilisi for a visit organized by the Brazilian Embassy, the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX), the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. Brazilian companies from the fields of food products, cosmetics, electrical equipment, refrigeration and heavy machinery had an opportunity to meet with local counterparts.

The mission developed awareness in commercial and investment sectors, showing Georgia as a possible recipient of investments or as a platform for Brazilian products to have easier access to contiguous markets. It was also an opportunity to show the diversity of the Brazilian economy, which has a sizeable market and strength in the sectors, such as meat, sugar and coffee, as well as chemical, automotive and airplane industries. It is worth mentioning that 50% of the fleet of Georgian Airways is composed of Brazilian Embraer aircrafts.

To enlarge upon a subject, the sectors covered by the commercial mission included car parts/friction material; electric engineering, power, and automation technology areas (electric motors, generators, transformers, drives, and coatings); plug-in commercial refrigeration market (such as sub-zero equipment for beer, ice creams freezers, as well as stainless steel foodservice equipment); and products originated in the Amazon region (frozen pulps, powders, oils and vegetable butter, bio jewelry).

The mission of the Embassy is to inform businessmen of good opportunities and motivate them to know the field better and establish contacts, as well as organizing trade missions as the one mentioned above. Once it is done, it is up to the private sector to decide whether to start business with the newly known partners or not. We hope some of the established contacts will fruitful.

– Georgia has increased a flow of tourists. Despite the long distance between our countries, do you think Brasilia will develop tourism in this direction? Do you have data about Brazilians visiting Georgia?

– Brazilian tourism to Georgia is increasing year after year. In 2017, over 1400 Brazilians visited this county, 21% more than in the previous year. And, in the first 7 months of 2018, 1.820 Brazilian tourists could discover the wonders of Georgia, by 87,4% more than in the same period of 2017. It is a huge growth, perhaps due to the fact that a team of the Brazilian TV has been to Georgia in May 2017, and made a superb 40-minute program about this country that was shown during the prime time in the most popular Brazilian TV channels; after that, Georgia is now much more known in Brazil. A second TV team visited Georgia last July and reported on some tourist attractions of the country, like some Brazilian newspapers for the past years.

You know, tourism is like a snow ball, growing as it rolls; there is also a mouth-to-mouth advertisement; Brazilians who visited Georgia were amazed; they enjoyed the country and encouraged their relatives and friends to visit Georgia.

– Last year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of establishing of diplomatic relations between Brazil and Georgia. Many cultural events were conducted. Which events will you organize this year to acquaint with the Brazilian culture?

– As the diplomatic relations between Brazil and Georgia were established in April 1993, last April we celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations, and this ephemeris was commemorated with a concert at the “Djansug Kakhidze Tbilisi Center for Music and Culture” for almost a thousand-people audience. As Brazilian pop music is already well-known worldwide, we decided to show the other side of the Brazilian music, the erudite. The Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Vakhtang Kakhidze performed a program of Brazilian erudite music, with works by Edino Krieger (Passacaglia para o Novo Milenio), Radamés Gnattali (Concerto Romantico for piano and orchestra, having pianist Angeles Iglesias as soloist), Villa-Lobos (Bachianas Brasileiras n. 4) and Ernani Aquiar (Sinfonietta Seconda “Carnevale”). It was a huge success.

From November 6 to November 10 2017, the Embassy presented the 4thBrazilian Film Festival at the cinema “Amirani”, featuring recently released Brazilian movies by the most prominent contemporary Brazilian filmmakers. The mission of the Festival was to support the cultural diversity and bring Georgian visitors closer to the Brazilian cinema, and consequently to the Brazilian society and reality. All films were shown in Portuguese with English subtitles:  Boy and the World (O menino e o Mundo); In Dog’s Words (Mundo Cão); Sheep’s Clothing (Entre Nós); Jules and Dolores (O Roubo da Taça), and Big Jet (Big Jato).

Furthermore, from October 20 to October 26 2018, the Embassy once again presented the 5th Brazilian Film Festival, the biggest and most successful festival, this time at the “Cinema House”. All of the films got very good reviews and appraisals from the visitors: 667 visitors attended the Film Festival 2018. The films shown were Elis (2016), a biography of Brazilian singer Elis Regina;  Araby (2017), describing the inner life of a Brazilian worker;  several short movies; Whirlpool / Redemoinho (2016), about two old friends with different experiences in life who met again after a long time;  Gabriel and the Mountain (2017), about the adventures of a young Brazilian in Africa; Liquid Truth / Entre Nós (2017), about a swimming teacher who is accused of sexual harassment;  and the Movie of My Life, about family relations in the rural South of Brazil.

We aim at carrying out the 6th Brazilian film festival in 2019.

Lika Jorjoliani, for