Redjeb Jordania: Our Second Century

My Fellow Georgians:
 This 26 May 2019  modern Georgia enters the second century of its existence. Much has been accomplished in the past quarter century, but much remains to be done. As Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), declared after her recent visit to Georgia: “it’s not yet over. It’s a constant battle, and it’s a constant endeavor to actually deliver for the benefit of the people in order to have stability in society, and progress for the well-being of them.”
 Yet, despite  great difficulties, our Georgia is not badly off at all. In order to help better appreciate its present situation, and for comparison purpose,I'd like to share extracts of my diary written 25 years ago, when Georgia was in a terrible mess.
Tbilisi, 26 May 1994
 This 26 May 1994 there is little to rejoice about,  Yes, Shevardnadze has succeeded to hold the line so that Georgia is internationally recognized as an independent nation.  But despite all efforts anarchy reign supreme. Georgians are still at each-other throats, bands of bandits roam everywhere while unscrupulous operators fill their pocket at the expense of everyone. Food is scarce,  basic services are sporadic, there are shortages of everything, electricity, running water, garbage pickup, and a lot more. Where is the dream?
 As we know, 76 years ago the dream of all Georgian patriots became a reality with the 1918 declaration of independence after 115 years of Russian occupation and centuries of disarray and disunity.
 That independence was brutally suppressed withing three years. But decades later the dream emerged anew: on April 9, 1990, after 70 years of communist tyranny, independence was again proclaimed.
 But what a difference with 1918!
 Then almost all Georgians were united in a common goal: peasants, aristocrats, workers, merchants, artists, intellectuals, musicians!  And in three short years so many constructive initiatives were put forward, so much accomplished!
 But this time around, what a contrast! within a few months of the 1990 proclamation a fratricidal struggle emerged in our country.  Within 10 months the center of Tbilisi lay in ruins, demolished not by hereditary enemies such as Persians or Turks, but by the Georgians themselves. A true civil war was waged throughout Georgia, nay, is still being waged at this writing, all semblance of order collapsed, armed groups of bandits terrorize the population, and, despite all efforts by Shevardnadze and his fellows, Abkhazia  was amputated from Georgia at the cost of hundreds of thousand of Georgian refugees!
 Yes, n this port-Soviet world many conflicts are raging, now that nationalist passions are no longer held in check by the awesome power of the Russian bear. Next to us Armenia fights with Azerbaijan; Chechens fight with the Ossetes, in the Balkans the Serbs fight Bosnian Moslems and the Croats.   But in our country Georgians do not fight against another national group, but against each-other. And while we were thus engaged in that fratricidal war others were emboldened to strike and amputate our country, shamefully sometimes with the help of Georgian themselves.
  Yet the dream remains …
 Recovery will be long and painful.  But make no mistake: no outside power, no outside help, no messiah is likely to come to help. Recovery depends uniquely on the people of Georgia; and by this I mean not only the individuals in a position of leadership and authority, but every person who lives in our beautiful country, every Georgian regardless of politics, sex, religion.
 It is high time to put aside revenge, hatred, selfishness, greed, and for every Georgian to look into his or her heart and answer the question President Kennedy asked 30 years ago; “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  And do it.
 I too have a vision: I see a Georgia where violence is a pale memory; where everyone is actively engaged in a constructive occupation, which brings with it prosperity and the means to indulge in one's free time in the traditions so dear to the Georgian people; a Georgia where men are again respectful of women, where it is unthinkable that a man pushes his way to to the head of a line of women waiting their turn, where there is longer poorly dressed women working in the fields or sweeping streets, looking like old crones of 70 when barely 40-year old; a Georgia where everyone understands in his heart that democracy is much more than free elections, where  elections do not result in a  98%majority for whoever happens to be top dog; where the rights of religious, social, personal minorities are scrupulously observed by the majority;  where the unavoidable differences of opinion and allegiance are freely resolved without recourse to violence….
 All this is in our power.  We can do it, Let us all look into ourselves, and think what each of us can do to achieve peace and harmony within our many differences.
 Yes, in the year 2019, our Georgia has come a long way since the terrible decade of the 90's.  The essential is that there is now a whole generation of Georgians who have never know the Soviet occupation, never been subjected to the Soviet culture and frame of mind, and therefore are completely free morally, intellectually, and physically to roam wherever their fancy takes them, physically as well as spiritually.
 Much remains to be done, of course. As Christine Lagarde underlines:  It’s a constant battle, which never ends. But with the 101st anniversary of modern Georgia, I am very confident that our country will get better and better.  Let it continue ad eternitam.
Gaomarjos  Sakhartvelos
26 May 2019 18:47