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Okruashvili Speaks of Wine Row
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 Apr.'06 / 23:18

Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili will leave for Kiev, Ukraine on April 24 to, as he put it, arrange “a large-scale exhibition of Georgian wine.”

Okruashvili said on April 20 while speaking on a political talk show aired by Rustavi 2 television that the event will be part of the Georgian authorities’ attempts to promote Georgian wine on new markets after Russia banned the import of them.

On April 12 President Saakashvili tasked Defense Minister Okruashvili with promoting Georgian wine on new markets.

The Defense Minister said on the talk show that the Georgian authorities, who have an action plan, “are working actively to diversify into foreign markets… this will require several months, or maybe even years, of hard work.”

Okruashvili said that a PR campaign under the banner “Buy the best Georgian wine, which is banned in Russia” is planned.

He said that fighting falsified wine is another direction of the Georgian authorities’ policy in this regard.

“We will have to undertake very active measures to force falsified products out of the market,” he said.

He said that there are falsified wines “even in Georgia’s domestic market, including in the network of restaurants.”

“There are several factories which are producing falsified wine and which should be immediately closed down.” Okruashvili said.

“We should work actively with our wine producers so that they can improve their marketing, the quality of their wines, their distribution network, and can gain access to new markets, including those in North and West Europe. Georgian wine was always geared towards the Russian market, meaning that [wine producers] were able to export wine there which would never be sold, for example, in England because even if you export – excuse me for this expression – feces to Russia it can be sold there,” Okruashvili said.

He also said that Russia’s decision to ban the import of Georgia wine was not a surprise for Tbilisi.

“There are a number of sensitive issues remaining for our country which the Russian authorities might use [against Georgia], but we should understand that this – and I do not think the Georgian society needs additional explanations for this – is the price of our freedom, the price which we are paying and the price which we should unquestionably pay,” Okruashvili said.

He said that events similar to the one planned in Ukraine will also take place in the Baltic States, as well as in Poland and Kazakhstan and in northern Europe and the Netherlands by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

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