Georgia in comms push to build links with the EU

The former Soviet republic of Georgia has brought in a public affairs agency for an unusual £375,000 strategic comms brief.

Brussels-based Aspect Consulting has been briefed to help Georgia gain closer ties with Nato and the EU.

Aspect will also highlight the country's development as a democracy and the 'free and fair' nature of its upcoming parliamentary elections, provisionally set for May.

The agency worked with the state to support this month's national elections, which saw Mikhail Saakashvili reinstated as President.

As well as strategic support, Aspect is providing a press office for Saakashvili, the government and the National Security Council in the capital of Tbilisi, where agency partner Patrick Worms is currently based.

The account is understood to be worth around EUR500,000 - equivalent to £375,000.

'We're helping the state manage increased interest from the media following the elections,' said Aspect founding partner James Hunt. 'Georgia is not used to dealing with international attention. We want to ensure that the informed opinion in the West is that Georgia's elections are free and fair.'

Hunt added that the agency intends to roll out a 'softer' campaign after interest in Georgian politics dies down later this year.

Aspect will focus on Georgia as the birthplace of wine: the first archaeological remains of grapevine cultivation dating back 9,000 years have been discovered in the country. 'There are cultural commonalities with Europe,' said Hunt. 'Georgia is not that far away really.'

The PR Office will continue to promote tourism and investment in Georgia.

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