1989-2009: Transformation of the Society and the State – from National Movement to Civil Protest

N. Danelia, E. Jgerenaia, N. Gelashvili and I. Haindrava
Teaser Image Caption
ნ. დანელია, ე. ჯგერენაია, ნ. გელაშვილი, ი. ხაინდრავა

Naira Gelashvili – Writer, head of the "Caucasian House";
Ivliane Khaindrava – Member of the Republican Party;
Emzar Jgerenaia – Sociologist, I. Chavchavadze State University
Moderation: Nino Danelia

Speakers of the debate expressed their own opinions on the following topics – realization of the events taking place in 1989-2009, searching for errors being made, public and state transformation, considering the experience of the past and finding the way out of the political crisis in the country.

At the beginning of his speech Ivliane Khaindrava mentioned the 9th April, 1989 saying that this night caused different opinions in the Georgian society. A lot of people evaluates this event positively and connects it to national unity and consolidation, considering that it has opened Georgia a way to independence. However, Khaindrava thinks this event negatively impacted on the further development of the country.

Ivliane Khaindrava also spoke about those three projects which have been offered by three presidents of Georgia over the last years. According to him, Gamsakhurdia came to the government within the ethno-national project which led Georgia to the past instead of the future. Public discussion had a concern in one question – what should be first independence or democracy? And the answer of the majority was – “independence should be first”.
Ivliane Khaindarava made a conclusion that during the period of restoration of independence a great part of the Georgian society was not ready for accepting values of European liberal democracy.

Khaindrava mentioned that after Gamsakhurdia Eduard Shevardnadze did not present any distinct project to the public. He had no idea where to lead the country, though later after his final disappointment in Russia’s relationship with Georgia there appeared a Western vector in the Georgian politics.
Mikheil Saakashvili came to the government within the project of modernization of the     country; however this project failed due to many reasons. As Khaindrava explained, the National Movement under Saakashvili’s leadership has chosen Americanization which has no perspective in a country like Georgia.

At the end of his speech Khaindrava spoke about those political groups which may come to the government after Saakashvili’s resignation: government like Gamsakhurdia, i.e. supporting national project, government like Shevardnadze, i.e. without a distinct project or a political power having a European type modernization project.

Writer Naira Gelashvili mentioned the words of philosopher Merab Mamardashvili: “We should be independent and enter the history in order to realize who we are, what we can do and what we cannot do, we should make our own mistakes and enter the history”. Gelashvili said that at that period nobody has found out whether people had a clear understanding about independence and freedom. As shown by the results people meant less education and easy life under independence.

The situation in the country has become so worse during 1988-89 years that it could not be improved over the past 20 years. The reason is that this period established non-state, sick and destructive understanding. The 9th April, 1989 has excluded elections, as well as an intellectual way which should be followed by the country.

There happened marginalization of the educated part of the society who should become the leader of the movement.

Is there any tradition or institutional memory in Georgia which could establish Western values; is there a ground for the phrase: “I am Georgian and therefore I am European” - sociologist Emzar Jgerenaia tried to answer this question together with the audience.

Like all other countries, Georgia has its own history; however it has no institutions which are necessary for the state. Problem resolution in the streets will result in the continuous process of this situation. Therefore, politicians should find out understanding and lead the society through the way of a dialogue and evolution. Problems should be solved institutionally. There is a danger that the society will be constantly in terms of a “political carnival”.

Is it Georgia’s or others’ fault what has happened to this country? Is radicalism and nationalism a public order, and if it is so what should be done by respectable political leaders in order to change this direction; what is the meaning of the word “we” and is there any danger that isolation of different public groups may form nationalism by this word; who has more chances to come to the government; do there exist any idealists in the Georgian politics who can act pragmatically; are there pragmatic persons in the Georgian politics at present, before the 9th April; what is the way out of the existing situation? – these were the main questions which the speakers and the audience tried to answer together on the eve of the 9th April.

Download report in Georgian pdf (22 pages, 223 KB)