MINELRES: PMMG: Open letter to President of Georgia

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Apr 27 18:24:01 2005


Original sender: Multinational Georgia <pmmg@caucasus.net>


Open Letter to the President of Georgia Mr. Mikheil Saakashvili


Mr. President,

History presents States in different epochs the chance to find and
establish themselves, and the application of this chance, in addition
the general tendencies prevailing in the world, depends also on the
level of development of the societies and the extent of readiness of the
authorities.  

The global changes that took place in Georgia a year ago was considered
by the whole society as a starting point of a new stage of country's
development, which would turn post-Soviet Georgia into a modern,
developed and European country. However, it is impossible for the
divided society, where mutual distrust prevails, to build such a
country.

Mr. President, you have pointed out on a number of occasions that the
Rose Revolution was the victory for the whole Georgian people, through
which the society defended its own constitutionally recognized rights
and dignity and entrusted the new authorities with a task of protecting
these very rights. Naturally enough, one year was not enough time for
the new authorities to solve many problems, however, in the course of
the period of your presidency, the formation of unified civil,
multiethnic society and its integration has not been high on the agenda
of the government. Unfortunately, the government does not have any
proper strategy and well-established nationality policy in this field.
In the circumstances when Georgia faces the problem not only of
restoration of territorial integrity, but also the problem of
unification of the society, the fact that the government ignores
nationality policy, would make integration process in the society very
doubtful. In the multiethnic society, nationality policy should not be
considered as a matter of secondary importance.

Upon the initiative of our organization "United Civil Movement
Multinational Georgia", at the end of January a conference "Ethnic
Minorities after One Year of the Rose Revolution" was held.
Representatives of ethnic minorities, as well as experts, diplomatic
missions and representatives of international organizations accredited
in Georgia participated in the work of conference. Based on the points
of view and remarks expressed at the conference, as well as meeting with
the representatives of the Secretariat of the Council of Europe
Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, we
prepared a package of recommendations, which called upon the government
and civil society to become more active in order to elaborate
nationality policy. We think that these recommendations would help the
authorities to have a clear position in the field of intra-ethnic
relations. 

Today, when the large-scale reforms are being carried out in the
country, including structural and personnel reorganization of
administrative organs and territorial-administrative arrangement of the
country, it is essential that simultaneously the government should work
out policy of intra-ethnic relations, in particular, and policy of civil
integration, in general. We believe that in this regard, the
authorities, as well as the society should take active steps, namely:

1. The new model of administrative-territorial arrangement should not
contribute to further erosion of the society, but instead should
contribute to its unification. It should become a foundation for the
unification of the society. It should not include those elements, that
might instigate separatism and give rise to a new wave of ethnic
conflicts. Therefore, in the process of reform, fixation of new
administrative territorial borders in the regions compactly populated by
ethnic minorities is a very sensitive issue. Basis for the creation of
new administrative-territorial units of the State should be economic
potential of those administrative units and not pseudo-national motives.
Therefore, we offer that non-governmental organizations and
representatives of ethnic minorities living in regions of their compact
settlement and working on the aforementioned issues, should be actively
involved in the process of elaboration of administrative-territorial
reform. The new administrative-territorial division should become a
foundation for the creation of a unified statehood, based on the
multi-ethnic character of the society. Currently, we are working on a
package of proposals on administrative-territorial reform of the
country, which would take into due account different forms and methods
of guarantees for economic development of self-governing territorial
units. We stand ready to actively cooperate in this direction;         
       
2. Reformation of election system is an issue of no less topicality. It
could be argued that  the election system existing during the elections
held on 23 November, failed to pass an exam: the rigidity of the
election system allowed the then Georgian authorities to hold
undemocratic elections. Therefore, today we are facing the necessity to
reform the existing election system. A new election system should
contribute to the creation of truly multi-party parliament and to make
sure that social profile is fully reflected in the legislative body.
Interest of regions, including those regions populated by ethnic
minorities, should be fully, and not only formally, reflected in the
parliament. The new election system should be transparent and stable to
the extent, which would prevent the State and society from
social-political cataclysms. Therefore, the process of reforming the
election system should go beyond the offices of high rank officials and
independent experts, representatives of NGOs', interested people, that
is, political parties should be actively engaged in this process. We
have worked out a package of proposals on reformation of the election
system, which could be considered as an alternative version and in the
nearest future we are going to present it for public debate. 

3. We respond to the initiative of the Ministry of Education on
cooperation, idea of which has been voiced at the aforementioned
conference and we put forward a proposal to create a consultative
council of ethnic minorities at the Ministry of Education, which, in
close cooperation with relevant structures of the Ministry would prepare
and work out  a project on educational programs for non-Georgian
language schools; look for the most optimal forms of education and
actively participate in their materialization. 

4. Mr. President, at the same time, we welcome your initiative with
regard to introduction of education quotas for representatives of ethnic
minorities. However, we do believe that it would be desirable to
implement this process under the monitoring of NGO and civil society
representatives, in order to make sure that allocation of quotas will
not be controlled by  local clans, which would further increase their
influence and the scope of corruption, as it was the case in the high
mountainous regions of Georgia with regard to allocation of quotas.

5. Mr. President, we think that a package of ongoing large-scale reforms
should include a strategy for building a unified civil society, which
should be based on multi-ethnic character of the State. If there is a
wish and will on the part of the Authorities to build a democratic,
unified, developed and strong State, that will should be applied to the
intra-ethnic relations policy, as well. We do believe that this is the
requirement of the day: through an active  participation of the society,
including representatives of scientific and academic circles, experts in
relevant fields, representatives of NGOs and ethnic minorities, the
Authorities should start working aimed at elaboration of inter-ethnic
relations policy, which would be part of the strategy for creation of
unified civil society. 

6. Within the framework of this program, it is necessary to set up an
information policy council, which would work on a
information-ideological concept for establishment of inter-ethnic
tolerance and unified civil society and its implementation. The concept
should be based on a thesis, that provided the Authorities carry out
reasonable and thoughtful policy, a multi-ethnic society is a chance,
and not a threat for Georgia on its way toward building an unified and
strong State.

7. Mr. President, in spite of the fact that you have taken certain steps
in this direction, and the introduction of the post of State Minister on
Civil Integration is a proof of the aforementioned, it should be
mentioned, unfortunately, that this structure is, in fact, without
function. The fact that not a single, real initiative in the field of
inter-ethnic relations and civil integration has been put forward by
this structure, allows us to make the aforementioned assertions.
Therefore, creation of a consultative council of ethnic minorities,
which would be attached to the President, is a very topical issue and is
supposed to fill the existing void and contribute to formation of
intra-ethnic relations policy and the process of civil integration.

Mr. President, we hope that one of the most important achievements of
your presidency will be the creation of unified civil society. However,
it is essential to take steps in this direction without any delay. We
are ready for active cooperation. Now, it is for you to make decision.
Multinational society of Georgia hopes that you will meet its hopes. 

Respectfully,

Arnold Stepanian - Chairman of the Union "Public Movement Multinational
Georgia" 

Tengiz Gagloev - President of the Association of Ossetians of Georgia

Harry Augst - President of the Association of Germans of Georgia
"Einung"

Alla Bezhentseva - Chairperson of the Union of Russian Women of Georgia
"Yaroslavna"

Mubaris Karaev - Chairman of the Union "Ethnic Minorities of Georgian
Pro Europe"

Zina Karukhnishvili - Chairperson of Lithuanian Community of Georgia
"Ruta"

Agit Mirzoev - Head of the National Congress of Kurd-Ezids of Georgia

David Adamov - Vice-president of the Assyrian National Congress of
Georgia

Regina Jacobidze - Head of Latvian community of Georgia

Mikhail Avakyan - Chairman of the Union of Armenian Youth of Georgia

Mikhail Boris - Head of Association of Ukrainians living in Georgia

Leila Suleimanova - Chairperson of the Union of Azerian Women of Georgia 

Mikhail Aidinov - President of the Association of Journalist
"Multinational Georgia"

Raina Beleva-Akhalkatsishvili - Head of Bulgarian community of Georgia

Alexander Bezhentsev - Head of Youth Union of Public Movement
Multinational Georgia 

Ilona-Popova Kereselidze - Deputy Ataman of the Union of Cossacks of
Georgia

Mari Mokoyan - Co-chairperson of the Unity of Georgian Armenians "Nor
Serund"

Susanna Khachatryan - Head of the Association of Armenian Women of
Georgia "Shushanik"

Kiriak Iordanov - President of the Federation of Greeks of Georgia (27
organizations)

Vano Mititanidi - Head of Youth Foundation of Greek community of Georgia

Regina Kakhidze - Head of Estonian community of Georgia

Harold Shmaltsel - Chairman of the Czech community of Georgia "Zlata
Praga"

Lili Safarova - Head of Independent League of Kurds-Yezids Women of
Georgia 

Nukri Gabunia - Executive Director of Polish Sunday School named after
St. Queen Jadviga 

Valery Svarchuk - International Humanitarian-Charitable Society
"Nadezhda" ("Hope")

Nelli Rodionova - Head of Slavic House of Georgia 

Ia Kvatadze - Head of Women Public-Charitable Association "Ertoba"
("Unity")

Valentina Bazilak -Head of the Union "Charity and Care"

Robert Arutunyan - Deputy Chairman of Tbilisi community of the Union of
Armenians of Georgia 

Klara Baratashvili - Deputy Chairperson of the Union of Georgian
Repatriates 

Kyarim Ankosi - Chairman of International Foundation on rights of Kurds

Edgar Bitbunov - Head of youth union of the Assyrian National Congress
of Georgia

Marat Baratashvili - Chairman of the Union of Georgian Repatriates
"Patria"

Guranda Chavchavadze - Deputy Chairperson of the Association
"Multiethnic Resource-Center on Civic Education in Georgia" 

Alexandra Kalatozishvili - President of the Young Journalists
Association "New Vision"

Devi Titali - Deputy Chairman of the Union of Yezidi Youth of Georgia 

Khatuna Khalilova - Vice-president of the Association "Compass - youth
initiatives of Georgia"

Dimitri Bregvadze-Andrianov - Vice-president of the International Youth
Association of Georgia 

Varujan Atanesyan - Chairman of the Association "Young Peace-Builders"

Aza Kudukhova - Member of Council in Multiethnic Resource Center on
Civic Education in Georgia 

Vladimir Chanturidze - Chairman of the Union "Interethnic Initiatives
for Development of Civil Society" (Rustavi)

Alibala Askerov - Chairman of the Union "Geirat" (Marneuli)

Izumrud Kurbanov - Representative of the Union "Geirat"

Arina Tavakarashvili - Chairperson of the Union "Shida Kartli - Civic
Action"

Laura Kharitonashvili - Chairperson of the Association "Vejini"
(Kakheti)

Luba Matevosyan - Chairperson of the Union "Interethnic Initiatives for
Development of Democracy in Samtskhe-Javakheti region"

Aida Darbinian - Chairperson of the Union of Armenian Women of
Akhaltsikhe district 

Mania Karabekyan - Board Member of the Armenian National Union of
Akhaltsikhe district 

Ararat Esoyan - Director of the Center of Support to Reforms and
Development of Democracy (Akhalkalaki)

Vagarshak Shakhbekyan - Deputy Chairman of the Union "Regional Civic
Initiatives for Development of Democracy in Samtskhe-Javakheti"
(Akhalkalaki)

Levon Levanyan - Chairman of the Union "Regional Civic Initiatives for
Development of Democracy in Samtskhe-Javakheti" (Akhalkalaki)

 Artur Oganesyan - Armenian community of Adjara

Natig Akhmedov - Chairman of the Union on the Protection of Human Rights
in KvemoKartli

Paata Zakareishvili - Project Manager of the Center on cooperation and
development 

George Khutsishvili - Director of the Center on Conflicts and
Negotiations

Paata Gurgenidze - Center for Trainings and Consultancy 

Ucha Nanuashvili - Head of Human Rights Information and Documentation
Center  

Nodar Sarjveladze - Head of Human Resource Development Foundation 

Emil Adelkhanov - Representative of the Caucasian Institute for Peace,
Democracy and Development 

Mamuka Kuparadze - Studio "Re"