New Delhi: India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will be in Georgia on July 9 and 10, a visit which assumes significance as part of India’s engagement with the Caucasus. This is the first visit by an Indian external affairs minister to Georgia since it gained independence from Soviet Union in 1991. During the visit to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, EAM will hold talks with Georgia’s FM David Zalkaliani.
Jaishankar will make a stopover from his visit to Russian capital, Moscow. Notably, Georgia and Russia don’t share positive relations.
In 2008, a brief war had raged between the two countries after which both the regions of the country–South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared independence with Moscow’s blessings. While Russia recognizes both territories as Independent states, Georgia has rejected the move. New Delhi does not recognize both regions are separate countries.
This comes, even as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had visited Pakistan after his India visit earlier this year. While Russia dismissed any closeness to Islamabad, many in India saw it as an attempt by Moscow to hyphenate India and Pakistan. Lavrov’s 2021 visit to Pakistan was the first visit by the Russian Foreign minister to Islamabad since 2012.
This is also the first visit by an Indian EAM to Georgia in the last 40 years. The last time Indian EAM visited the country was Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Georgia in June 1978 as External Affairs Minister. After that, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh had met in New Delhi on 11 May 2000.
India and Georgia do share a lot of historical connect. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s wife Udaipuri Begum was of Georgian origin. Queen St. Ketevan, who was the queen of Kakheti, a kingdom in eastern Georgia and was canonized as a saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church is buried in St. Augustine Tower in Goa. St. Ketevan attained martyrdom in 1624 in Shiraz, Iran and her relics were brought to India by the Portuguese. Georgian Embassy is keen that the relics could be transferred to Georgia.
Georgian medieval epic poem, written in the 12th century–The Knight in the Panther’s Skin has references to India. It is written by Shota Rustaveli, who is considered the country’s national poet. It is believed that Panchtantra has influenced Georgian folk legends.
The Indian embassy in Armenia is concurrently accredited to Georgia while Georgia has an embassy in Delhi.