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Impact Hub Tbilisi – Meet the Ambassador

By Mariam Chanishvili
Thursday, September 21
Impact Hub Tbilisi offers to its members, students and other interested people the opportunity to have an informal interaction with heads of Diplomatic Missions to Georgia.

As their first speaker, they hosted the Ambassador of The United Kingdom to Georgia Mr. Justin McKenzie Smith.

People were given a chance to meet the Ambassador in person and find out more about bilateral relationships between Georgia and UK as well as past, current and future activities of the British Embassy in Georgia.

Impact Hubs are where changes start off. As innovation lab, business incubator, and community center, it offers a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities to make and grow an impact.

The Ambassador mentioned that the concept of an Impact Hub comes from UK and that this is one of many examples of cooperation between the two countries.

“I am glad that this interesting initiative started. In Britain, there are a lot of Impact Hubs. I would like to widen the cooperation between the two countries and their Impact Hubs,” said McKenzie Smith.

The Ambassador talked about the relations between the two countries, noting that “the British Government believes and supports the idea of independent, democratic and prosperous Georgia.”

“We are supporting Georgia in three broad categories. The first one is security, stability and conflict reduction with the help of OSCE, UN, etc. We fundamentally believe in Georgia’s territorial integrity. The second category is resilience. We want to help the Georgian Government become stronger. And the third category includes continuing democratic reforms,” said the ambassador.

After the speech, the Q&A session took place. Important topics, such as traveling to Britain, visas, cultural events were discussed during the session.

Mr. Justin McKenzie Smith took up the appointment of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Georgia in August 2016. Previous to this, Justin was a Deputy Head of Mission and Director for Trade and Investment at the British Embassy in Mexico City from 2011-2015.

Ambassador McKenzie Smith was a Deputy Director responsible for the UK’s relations with Russia, the South Caucasus and Central Asia in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 2008-2011. From 2004-2008, he was the Spokesperson for the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York and a member of the UK’s Security Council team. In the second half of the 1990s he served in the British Embassy in Moscow.

In London, he has also worked on the issues of European Union, human rights and press. Justin McKenzie Smith joined Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service in 1994 and is a graduate of Oxford and Edinburgh Universities.

Diplomatic relations between Georgia and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland were re-established on 27 April, 1992 after Georgia gained its independence as a result of the collapse of Soviet Union.

Fields of cooperation include regular bilateral and multilateral political dialogues, support for political and economic reforms of the Government of Georgia, support for Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Britain helps Georgia to improve the defense system by providing the Ministry of Defense of Georgia with relevant expertise as well as offering training and English language courses for military personnel.

There is an active cooperation in the fields of culture and education in the framework of different programs (Chevening, John Smith, Hansard, Mansion Scholarships) supported by British Council.

The United Kingdom is one of the biggest investors in Georgia and made into top 10 list of investing countries in Georgia since 2010.

Along with diplomatic relations, The UK and Georgia have begun to establish a legal framework for cooperation. To date, the UK and Georgia have concluded 15 agreements, including an agreement between the Government of Georgia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland For Promotion and Protection of Investments, agreement between the Government of Georgia and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on International Road Transport, joint declaration of Friendship and Co-operation Between Georgia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.