British Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas, Wendy Morton, announced after the 7th round of the Wardrop Strategic Dialogue, held virtually on September 9 between the Georgian and UK officials, that the United Kingdom has committed over GBP 2 million to help Tbilisi “bring a peaceful end to years of conflict,” along with UK Export Finance (UKEF), a government agency operating alongside the British Department for International Trade, doubling its capacity for Georgia to more than GBP 3 billion in 2020.
Wardrop Strategic Dialogue, named after Georgia-aficionado British siblings, diplomat Oliver Wardrop (first British Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasia in Georgia in 1919–20) and scholar Marjory Wardrop, brings together key elements of UK-Georgia bilateral relations from political matters, to defense and security, as well as economic and trade ties and people-to-people relations. Each year, since 2014, the two delegations talk about progress and discuss areas of future cooperation.
Highlighting the importance of relations with Georgia, the British Foreign Office focused on cyber-security, including cooperation in exposing Russian GRU’s cyberattack against Georgia, the 2019 signing of a continuity trade agreement and trade, volume of which reached GBP 186 million in 2019-20, up by 40% since last year. UK is also the biggest source of FDI in Georgia, with 24.8% in Q2 2020.
#Wardrop – the annual strategic dialogue between 🇬🇧 & Georgia🇬🇪 – is kicking off today, led by 🇬🇧Minister @morton_wendy & Georgian🇬🇪 FM @DZalkaliani. From trade up nearly 40% to collaboration on coronavirus, it’s a good time to discuss further strengthening ties #უორდროპისდიალოგი
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) September 9, 2020
Noting that “Georgia stands at the forefront of Russian aggression, with conflict at its borders since 2008,” the British Foreign Office said, “Georgia’s stability & security is vital for Europe so we’ve stepped up our defense cooperation with Georgian Defence Ministry and NATO.”
As part of the Dialogue, Georgia’s Deputy Defense Minister Lela Chikovani and UK’s Euro-Atlantic Security Policy Unit Director David Hogan-Hern signed the finance plan of 2020-2021 defense cooperation.
Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Zalkaliani, thanked the UK for “remaining unwavering in its support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and allocation of £2 million in financial aid” and expressed gratitude to UKEF “for encouraging economic opportunity and prosperity in Georgia.”