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Palermo Mayor visits Georgia

Monday, December 3
Palermo has been Tbilisi’s sister city for more than 25 years. The Mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, arrived in Tbilisi for a 24 hour visit. Despite the short timetable The Messenger managed to ask the mayor some brief questions. On November 27-28, Italian language week was held in Georgia. Cultural and economic events took place and this time, Sicily was representing Italy in Georgia. During his meeting with The Messenger journalist, Mayor Orlando spoke about Palermo and Tbilisi mutually beneficial cooperation in the years passed since establishing sister relations. Many cultural events have taken place between the two cities since they have established ties.

“For those years we were contaminating each other– in the good sense of the word [of course],” said Mayor Orlando. He remembered that when Georgian refugees from Abkhazia were forced to leave their homeland, a number of children from Abkhazia were taken to Palermo, were sheltered by Italian families and given education there. These children now speak perfect Italian and many have made successful professional careers. Despite a very busy day, Mayor Orlando managed to travel to Tbilisi, arriving at 5am, leaving Georgia at 4 am the following morning. During his stay in Georgia, he met his Georgian counterpart Gigi Ugulava then met with President Saakashvili who brought Mr. Orlando to his private residence in Kvareli via helicopter and hosted him there. Later, Mayor Orlando met with Georgia’s Patriarch Ilia II. Full of emotions was his meeting with vice PM Kakhi Kaladze.(Who was a football star in Milan for many years).“I spoke with him in Italian and I was very proud to meet with one of the most prominent foreign athletes, here in Georgia,” Orlando said. He is very enthusiastic about the relations between two cities, hoping that more and more new projects could be initiated for the benefit of the two friendly nations.