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PM visits Illinois University after 18 years, recalls his student days

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 29
After 18 years, Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili visited Illinois University in the United States, where he earned his Master’s degree in finance in 1998.

The PM met university staff and students on April 28, and in a speech recalled some interesting moments from his student time.

Kvirikashvili said it was hard for him to make a decision to continue studies in the US as at that time he had a wife and three children, and a year's separation from his family seemed difficult for him.

He also said it was practically impossible for Georgians in the 1990s to receive an education in leading American universities.

“I had a big chance, and the chance was provided by the Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program financed by the US State Department,” Kvirikashvili said.

The PM highlighted his year at Illinois University played a ‘crucial role’ in his life.

“Here I became a big fan of soccer and the jazz festivals that were held in parks. Of course I remember well the friendly attitude of locals in Urbana-Champaign,” Kvirikashvili said, noted those Georgians who received their education abroad were ‘cultural ambassadors’ of their homeland.

The PM also recalled how he wanted to familiarise his American friends with Georgian culture and invited 16 of them to the Sukhishvilebi folk concert in US despite the fact he then had to pay a loan taken for the tickets for a long time.

Kvirikashvili also spoke about Georgia’s future intentions and the Government’s plans, as well as about his country’s beneficial geographical location.

He especially stressed the importance of the New Silk Road route and Georgia’s capability to link Europe with Asia.

Kvirikashvili also widely spoke about Georgia-US friendly and strategic relations.

“Georgia is the US’ loyal friend, stable geopolitical ally and strategic partner,” Kvirikashvili said.

At the end of his speech, the PM hoped the people attending his speech would see the Georgian-US relations differently and recognise the importance of the ties for regional and global stability.

He also hoped many would then visit Georgia from the US.

“I may be biased, but Georgia is an amazing place with its picturesque mountains, amazing coastlines and unique historical monuments. Our people are famous for their hospitality, and our cuisine and wine are just divine,” the PM said.

The PM also answered questions about Georgia-Russia relations, Georgia’s democratic reforms and the country’s investment potential, as well as about Georgia’s transformation process from a Soviet country into a modern European state.

The last question was asked by the PM’s former professor, who asked a question as to whether one of his children intended to apply for studies at the University.

The PM replied that he hoped his youngest son would study at Illinois University.