Hugo Setzer officially opened the Fair, together with IPA Executive Committee member and Chairperson of the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association (GPBA), Gvantsa Jobava.

During his speech, Setzer spoke about the importance of educational publishers fully collaborating with government and teachers to achieve better educational outcomes for Georgian students. He said: This country has known centrally dictated educational materials. Trust your citizens, trust your local publishers. Provide them with the right conditions and they will help you achieve your educational targets and build smarter generations for the future of Georgia. 

Two authors were invited to the opening ceremony as special guests: Austrian writer Robert Menasse and Russian writer Sergei Lebedev. Mr Menasse said: I was born in a world where it would have been impossible or at least very difficult to come here. I am glad that, during the course of my life, many borders fell, foreign rules were defeated and it was possible to build bridges. I don’t want new borders. I would like to say this here, loud and clear: we belong together. European Culture means today, and in the future, freedom of diversity, enrichment through diversity, knowledge and truth and beauty through exchange.

The IPA delegation had a meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, Sophio Khuntsaria, to discuss ongoing collaboration with the GPBA, especially in preparing Tbilisi’s application to become World Book Capital City in 2021.

The delegation also tried to meet with the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, Mikheil Batiashvili, to discuss the current model used in Georgia to produce textbooks and the ways in which local educational publishers could participate more broadly in the process. Unfortunately, this meeting was not possible. However, the Educational Publishers Forum has decided to hold a meeting in Tbilisi in February 2020 and we will try again to talk with the Minister at that time.

The GPBA organized a successful publishers conference during the Book Fair, and the IPA delegation participated along with Georgian publishers and authors in four panels that focused on copyright, freedom to publish, educational publishing and accessible publishing. At the end of the accessible publishing panel two more publishers signed the Accessible Book Consortium’s Charter for Accessible Publishing.

On the final day of the Fair, José met with individual members of the GPBA, explaining the IPA’s current policy focus and encouraging them to get more involved in the Educational Publishers Forum, our other committees and the IPA-UN SDG Book Club.