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Ten Years of Occupation

2018 marks two important dates for the country of Georgia.  In May, all Georgians, including many Georgian-Americans, commemorated Georgia’s 100th birthday.  The modern state of Georgia began its life in 1918 and survived three years (1918-1921) before falling to a Communist invasion and almost seventy years of Soviet oppression.  2018 also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Georgia.  On August 8, 2008, Russian forces, some 80,000 strong, swept into Georgia once more.  The pretext was that Russia was responding to a Georgian attack on the separatist enclave of South Ossetia. This ignores the context of almost weekly provocations by Russia leading up to August 2008. Today, in violation of the cease-fire agreement agreed upon in 2008, Georgia remains occupied by Russian troops. They are visible from the main highway which connects East and West Georgia, and are located just 40 miles from Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city. “Temporary” housing built to house Georgians displaced by the war are also visible from the highway.  The cease-fire line continues to advance into Georgian territory, as Ossetian irregulars and their Russian backers arbitrarily shift the border further onto Georgian land.  This creeping “borderization” deprives Georgian farmers of access to their lands and homes, and leads to provocations, arrests and the murder of Georgian citizens by Russian border guards.

Georgians worldwide are extraordinarily proud of the longevity of their culture and traditions. They have a unique language, are Orthodox Christians, and are dedicated to the preservation of their culture, and their historical connections to the West.

Georgia (Sakartvelo to Georgians) is an ancient land that predated the formation of Rus or Russia. Georgia has survived despite the many invasions and foreign interlopers who have sought to control the strategically placed land which Georgians inhabit. Georgia’s orientation was always westward, and it remains so today.  But Georgia is occupied, Russia continues to meddle in its internal affairs, and Georgia’s Western friends are preoccupied.  Georgia was the first Ukraine.  There should be no concessions to Russia until it observes the conditions of the peace agreement of 2008, which Russia itself signed.

The Georgian Association in the USA believes that Western silence in the face of the ongoing Russian occupation of Georgia will encourage Russia to continue its meddling in the sovereignty of other countries.  The United States Congress and European Union should all make plain their opposition to such Russian behavior, which is a threat not only to Georgia and the region, but to global peace.

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Meeting of Georgian Association President at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

President of the Georgian Association in the USA, Elisso Kvitashvili was recently in Tbilisi where she had an opportunity to discuss possible collaborative projects with the Department for Relations with Diaspora in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In discussions with Aliona Chkhouta, Head of the Division for Relations with the Diaspora, and Giorigi Merabishvili, Head of the North American division, ideas were exchanged about furthering Diaspora Department support for existing or additional Georgian Sunday schools (kindergardens) in the US, and enlisting young Georgian-Americans as possible “Young Ambassadors” as part of a broad outreach effort by the Diaspora Department.  As the Georgian Association plans further cultural events in the US later in 2018-2019, Chkhouta and Merabishvili confirmed interest in supporting our efforts perhaps through the sponsorship of young Georgian speakers and scholars. Now that the relationship has been established check our facebook page in particular for more announcements on additional collaboration.

General Andronikashvili and Feneral Tsulukidze

“The National Liberation Movement in Georgia (1921-1990)

The following article is an extract from the exhibit “The Democratic Republic of Georgia – 100 years” currently on display at the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi.

The Bolshevik occupation regime started to subdue the population by force.  Georgian clergy and the Orthodox Church found themselves outside the law.  All anti-Communist organizations were dismissed by declaring “self-liquidation”. Prohibited parties moved underground and continued to fight for Georgia’s liberation by secret conspiracy.

In 1921, anti-Soviet revolts erupted in Svanetia, Racha-Lechkhumi and Khevsureti.  Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ambrosi addressed the Genoa International Conference in a memorandum and demanded the withdrawal of Russian occupation troops from Georgia.  In April 1922, the Independence Committee was formed to lead the liberation movement and its “military center” was established.  Guerrilla forces activated and spread throughout Georgia.

Khaikhosro (Kakutsa) Cholokashvili led the groups in Kakheti and Khevsureti.  The members of the squad were bound together by an oath and they were given the name “Shepiculni” (bound by oath).  In the summer of 1922, turbulence started in Khiziki, Pshavi and Khevsureti.  In March 1923, the entire military staff of the military center Generals Aleksandre Andronikashvili, Konstantine Apkhazi, Varden Tsulukidze and others were arrested and shot.  Nevertheless, in August 1924, a large uprising that was supported by Georgia’s emigrated government (in Paris) began.  To organize the revolt, Noe Khomeriki, Valiko Jugeli, Benia Chkikvishvili and others illegally returned from immigration.

Significant armed demonstrations took place in Guria, Samegrelo, Svaneti, Imereti and Kakheti.  Nevertheless, the revolt proved to be unsuccessful and resulted in massive casualties.  The government responded to protesting Georgians with mass repressions.

The National Movement weakened but did not die out completely shifting its attention to peaceful protests through expressions of culture, the arts and literature.

Several illegal organizations led by Levan Gotua, Adam Bobghiashvili, Kote Khimshiashvili and others were established in Georgia during World War II, but Soviet Special Forces destroyed all of them. The Soviets used bloodshed to restrain peaceful demonstrations in Tbilisi on March 9, 1956 and April 9, 1989.  A rare exception occurred in April 1978, when student youth demonstrations demanding that the state maintain the primacy of the Georgian language was met with compromise.

The dissident movement with representatives like Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia started in the 1970s. The patriotic poetry of Mukhran Machavariani, Akaki Bakradze’s critical letters and public lectures encouraged the emergence of powerful national political organizations such as the Ilia Chachavadze Society, National Independence Party, People’s Front and others.  Student activities intensified, and the role and influence of the church and Catholicos Patriarch Ilya II rose significantly.

The overall crises in the Soviet Union and the rise of the national movement gave Georgia the opportunity to restore its independent statehood again on April 9, 1991.

Ilia Chavchavadze

The National Liberation Movement in Georgia (1801-1917)

The following article is an extract from the exhibit “The Democratic Republic of Georgia – 100 years” currently on display at the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi.

The Russian Empire dissolved the Kartli-Kakheti Kingdom at the start of the 19th century, incorporating it in its boundaries as a province.  And when in 1810 the Imeretian Kingdom was annexed as well, Russia ruled over the entire Georgia, fully eliminating Georgian statehood, and stripping the Georgian Church of its autocephaly.

However, within all layers of Georgian society the imperial regime was met with resistance, resulting in the first public protest in Kakheti in July 1802. In the name of Emperor Alexander I, a petition was drawn up requesting the restoration of the Bagrationi royal reign in Kartli-Kakheti. The years after, particularly during 1804, 1812-13, and 1819-20 were marked by large anti-imperial uprisings, followed by an even larger scale revolt known as the 1832 Conspiracy plot.  The revolt, a significant movement aimed at restoring the Georgian independent state, was headed by Alexsandre Orbeliani, Solomon Dodashvili and Elizbar Eristavi.

In the 1860s, the Terg Daleulis movement (Terg Dadeulis were Georgian intellectual and political leaders who had received education in Russia in the 1860s) took the national liberation to a new stage.  Ilia Chavchavadze and his like-minded associates changed tactics by not only openly opposing the Russian Empire, but also by using more peaceful methods to fight the foreign rule.  Their thoughts, literary and public writings, artistic creations, as well as groups such as the Society for Spreading Literacy among Georgians, the Bank of the Nobility and the Land Bank strengthened national self-consciousness, consolidating and reinforcing the Georgian spirit.

The next generation of Georgian national political forces attempted to raise awareness among the European Community for support of the idea of Georgia’s liberation through civilized humanity.  A prime example was the newspaper Sakartvelo (Georgia) founded in 1903 in Paris, and its French add-in La Georgie propagating the idea of restoring an autonomous Georgian state.

With more than 2000 signatures, the petition The Memorandum of the Georgian People was drawn up at the initiative of Varlam Cherkhezishvili, Mikheil Tsereteli and Giorgi Gvazava and sent to the Hague Peace Commission in 1907.  The petition outlined the Russian Empire’s illegitimate actions in Georgia and called for the international community to acknowledge the historic and legal right of the Georgian people to have its national-territorial autonomy recognized. Varlam Gelovani, a Georgian deputy and member of the Socialist-Federalist party, officially appealed to the State Duma-Russia’s supreme legislative body, to grant Georgia autonomy on December 13, 1912.  And in June 1916, Mikheil Tsereteli gave an extensive speech at the Lausanne Conference on Georgia’s rights.”

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საქართველოს საგარეო საქმეთა სამინისტროს პროგრამა – ,,იყავი შენი ქვეყნის ახალგაზრდა ელჩი”

საქართველოს საგარეო საქმეთა სამინისტრო ახორციელებს საქართველოს ახალგაზრდა ელჩების პროგრამას – „იყავი შენი ქვეყნის ახალგაზრდა ელჩი“.
 
პროგრამის მიზანს წარმოადგენს ,,ახალგაზრდა ელჩების“ მიერ ადგილსამყოფელ ქვეყნებში საქართველოს პოპულარიზაცია, უცხოელ მეგობართა ქსელის შექმნა და ქართული დიასპორის წარმომადგენლებთან ურთიერთობა.
 
პროექტის შესახებ დეტალური ინფორმაცია შეგიძლიათ იხილოთ ამ ბმულზე: https://bit.ly/2tcaGkB
 
 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is implementing the young Ambassador’s Program:
“Be Your Country’s Young Ambassador”.
 
The aim of the program is to promote Georgia in the host countries by the “Young Ambassadors”; establish a network of foreign friends and closely communicate with the Georgian Diaspora representatives.
 
Detailed information about the project can be found on this link: https://bit.ly/2tcaGkB (Only in Georgian)
Rejeb Jordania with President of Georgian Association in the USA Elisabeth Kvitashvili, Former presidents Elizabeth Zaldastani Napier, Nino Japaridze and Mamuka Tsereteli, Board members Tsotne Dadiani, Veronika Metonidze and David Kharadze

Centennial of the First Georgian Republic: Past, Present and Future of Georgia

The Georgian Association in collaboration with the Levan Mikeladze Foundation and the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) held a widely attended conference celebrating the Centennial of the Georgian Democratic Republic (1918-21) with the theme of Past, Present and Future of Georgia. The conference was held on May 9, 2018 at CSIS headquarters in Washington DC with opening remarks by Elisabeth Kvitashvili, President of the Georgian Association in the USA, Redjeb Jordania, son of the first president of the Georgian Democratic Republic, Tina Mikeladze, President, Levan Mikeladze Foundation, and Ambassador David Bakradze, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States. Three speaker’s panels included several distinguished guests, including former US ambassadors to Georgia and former Georgian Ambassadors to the US. Featured speakdrs included Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bridget Brink, Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister of Georgia, Tedo Japaridze. The conference was attended by representatives from government, academia, and the Georgian community who at the conference, heard about the many challenges faced by Georgia in the last 100 years, but also of the bright future ahead for the country. 


Following the conference, a reception included performances by Georgian and American singers who provided a medley of folk songs and chants, as well as national anthems of the Georgian Democratic Republic and of the current independent state. Two special guests of the reception, Ms. Toby Davis from the Department of State and Ms. Danica Starks from the Department of Commerce were recognized for their long-term service and contribution to the strengthening of the US-Georgian strategic partnership and friendship. Two members of the Georgian Association Board of Directors, Dr. Mamuka Tsereteli, and Dr. Stephen Jones, who are stepping down from the board, were recognized for their many years of service.

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Photo of 1918 caBINET (1)

Restoration of Georgian Independence

Just as July 4th marks the date of the birth of the United States of America, May 26th serves as the birth date of the modern state of Georgia. But Georgia as a sovereign entity traces her existence for more than 20 centuries. Over these many centuries Georgians had to fight almost incessantly for the preservation of their national independence, faith and traditions. She was many times invaded by the Mongols, Persians and Turks, among others, and in more recent history lost her sovereignty to a greedy Imperial Russia.

It was in 1783 when the King of Eastern Georgia, Erekle II concluded a treaty with Catherine the Great by which Georgia accepted Russian protection from Persians. In exchange Georgia was to retain her royal dynasty (Bagrationi), Church, institutions, language and complete freedom in internal affairs.  In 1801 however, Russia violated the treaty and annexed Eastern Georgia to the Imperial Crown. By 1863, Russia had absorbed all of what is today modern Georgia, including currently occupied Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia. Since then, Georgia was a part of Imperial Russia. Georgians however managed to retain their language, and traditions.

When the Bolshevik Revolution broke out in 1917, Georgians took advantage of the ensuing chaos by declaring her independence on May 26, 1918.  It is this centenary which we celebrate this year.  The Georgian National Council consisting of members of all Georgian parties solemnly proclaimed the restoration of an independent Georgian state. Her independence was recognized de jure by most of the worlds powers including Soviet Russia who, on May 7, 1920, concluded a treaty with the Georgian Republic.

During the next three years the leaders of the new republic led by Noe Jordania, saw a Constituent Assembly elected (February 1919) based on a direct, equal, universal and proportional electoral representation.  The right to vote was given to every citizen of the republic 20 years old and older without discrimination. The Assembly’s principal task was to draft a Constitution which they drew up and had adopted by February 1921.   Unfortunately, by this time, the Red Army had begun its invasion of the young Republic striking simultaneously from five directions. Despite the heroic efforts of the Georgian Army led by General Kvinitadze, they were unable to resist the Soviet invasion.  On March 16,1921, the Constituent Assembly of Georgia held its last meeting in Batumi and ordered the Government of the republic to leave the country, proceed to Europe and continue the fight for the restoration of independence from there. The Red Army entered Tbilisi on February 25, 1921 and the Soviet Republic of Georgia was proclaimed the same day.

Although Georgia was fighting for her life, no help whatsoever was given to her by the outside world. Although several European countries debated the “Georgian question” nothing came of all the meetings, debates and protests. No one was willing to take on the Russian bear.  In 1921, the world had not yet come to realize that the principle of collective security must be defended if mankind is to have real peace. The invasion of a free Georgia was an early example in which Soviet Russia cynically broke an international treaty; they did same to Azerbaijan before Georgia. The Russia of today is no less different.  They continue to violate international norms of territorial integrity and human rights. How many times must history repeat itself before the world learns its lesson?

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Program of Anniversary Conference: Centennial of the First Georgian Republic

Levan Mikeladze Foundation

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  CSIS

 

Georgian Association in the USA

In collaboration with

Levan Mikeladze Foundation

And

Center for Strategic & International Studies

Invite You to a Special Anniversary Conference:

Centennial of the First Georgian Republic:
Past, Present and Future of Georgia

 

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May 9, 2018
9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Center for Strategic & International Studies
1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
RSVP Information

Conference Program

09:30 –10:00 Registration

 

10:00 – 10:30 Welcoming Remarks:

Elisabeth Kvitashvili, President, Georgian Association in the USA

Redjeb Jordania, Son of the First President of the Georgian Republic Noe Jordania

Tina Mikeladze, President, Levan Mikeladze Foundation

Ambassador David Bakradze, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States

 

10:30 – 10:40 Address by Bridget Brink, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

 

10:40 – 12:00 Panel 1 – First Republic: Connecting History to Modernity

Speakers: Stephen Jones, Professor, Mount Holyoke College

Beka Kobakhidze, Visiting Fellow at the Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Oxford/Associated Professor at GIPA

Grigol Gegelia, Doctoral Candidate, European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy

Discussant: Laura Jewett, Regional Director for Eurasia Programs, NDI

Moderator: Jeffrey Mankoff, Deputy Director, Russia & Eurasia Program, CSIS

 

12:05 – 13:00 Lunch

 

Remarks and Introduction by Ambassador Tedo Japaridze, Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister of Georgia

Keynote Speaker: Hon. Richard Armitage, Former Deputy Secretary of State/Co-Chairman, Supervisory Board, Levan Mikeladze Foundation

 

13:00 – 14:30 Panel 2 – Georgia’s Evolution, 1991-2018: Internal and External Dynamics

Speakers: Ambassador Archil Gegeshidze, Executive Director, Levan Mikeladze Foundation

Svante Cornell, Director, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute

Luke Coffey, Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, Heritage Foundation

Nino Japaridze, Vice President, Edison Research

Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia, NED

Michael Carpenter, Senior Director, Biden Center

Moderator: Olga Oliker, Director, Russia & Eurasia Program, CSIS

 

14:30 – 14:45 Coffee Break

 

14:45 – 16:15 Panel 3 – Economic Security of Georgia: Domestic, Regional, Global Perspective

Speakers: Mercedes Vera-Martin, Mission Chief for Georgia, IMF

Anthony Kim, Editor, Economic Freedom Index, Heritage Foundation

Jonathan Elkind, Former Assistant Secretary of Energy

S Frederick Starr, Chairman, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute

Kenneth Angell, Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Anita Baracsi, JSC Bank of Georgia

Moderator: Mamuka Tsereteli, AGBC/CACI/Georgian Association

 

16:15 – 16:30 Coffee Break

 

16:30 – 18:00 Panel 4 – Western Strategies Towards Georgia: 1991-2018

Speakers: Ambassador Kent Brown, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador William Courtney, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador Richard Miles, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador John Tefft, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador Alexandra Hall Hall, Former UK Ambassador to Georgia

Moderator: Hon. S. Enders Wimbush, Senior Partner, Stratevarious Inc.

 

6:00 Closing Remarks by Tsotne Dadiani, Board Member, Georgian
Association in the USA

 

6:05 – 8:00 Reception

 

Supporting Organizations

America-Georgia Business Council
American Friends of Georgia
Central Asia-Caucasus Institute
American Research Institute for South Caucasus
Wines Provided by
Georgian Wine House

 

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Georgian Association to Commemorate the 100 year Anniversary of the first Georgian Republic!

Dear Friends,

Please join the Georgian Association in the USA on May 9, 2018 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the founding of the first Georgian Republic. The Georgian Association, with support from the Levan Mikeladze Foundation, will celebrate this important historic occasion with a day-longconference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), followed by a gala reception. Mr. Redjeb Jordania, the son of the first republic’s President, Noe Jordania, will be joining us for the celebration. Other guests will include US and Georgian government officials, former US ambassadors to Georgia, representatives of academia, think-tanks and private sector, and members of the Georgian-American Community.

Please save the date for this event for which a formal invitation will be sent in Spring 2018.

On behalf of the Board of Directors,
Elisabeth Kvitashvili
President, Georgian Association in the USA
www.georgianassociation.org

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Georgian Independence

On May 26, 1918 Georgia reestablished a sovereign state and self-government which had been lost in the wake of the annexation of Georgia in 1801 by the Russian empire.  The Democratic Republic of Georgia was recognized in 1918-21 by the Governments of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark.  On May 7, 1920, the Republic of Georgia signed a Peace Treaty with the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic in which Soviet Russia unquestionably recognized “the freedom and independence of the Government of Georgia” (Article I) and renounced all “interference in the internal affairs of Georgia” (Article II).  In February 1921, the Soviet Army invaded Georgia, occupying the capital city of Tbilisi on February 25th.  Almost immediately the resistance of the Georgian people to Soviet Russian rule manifested itself in numerous popular insurrections and demonstrations.  The constant theme of these events was a demand for self-determination, reestablishment of independence and an end to Soviet Russian occupation and russification of Georgia.  Since that time and until Georgia reclaimed her independence in April 1991, Georgians struggled incessantly against Soviet Russian rule. Among key events were the:

  • Insurrection of 1924 when Georgian nationalist groups succeeded for a short period in taking over a number of cities from Soviet elements before thousands of nationalists were massacred by the Red Army and the opposition movement took refuge in the Caucasus Mountains from where they continued to attack Soviet forces for many years. A number of the leaders also relocated to Turkey and eventually Europe.
  • Uprising of 1956 during Khrushchev’s rule which was crushed with dozens dead or wounded when troops fired indiscriminately on demonstrators especially those gathered at Tbilisi University.
  • Demonstration of April 14, 1978 when over 20,000 marched in Tbilisi protesting an attempt, under Brezhnev, to amend the Constitution of the Georgian Soviet Republic and eliminate Georgian as the official language of the republic. Demonstrators took to the streets under the threat of tanks and armored personnel carriers which had surrounded the center of the city. For the first time in Soviet history a popular demonstration was successful in overturning a decision from Moscow and the Georgian language was kept as the official language.
  • Numerous demonstrations including mass demonstrations in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and other cities on February 25, 1989 on the 68th anniversary of the occupation of the Republic of Georgia by the Red Army. Over 30,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the Kashveti Church in Tbilisi before proceeding to march to Tbilisi University. Along the way, Russian troops attacked the peaceful crowds of demonstrators leaving about 20 people killed and 100 injured. Banned poisonous gas was used by the Russian troops. Leaders of various nationalist groups read a declaration addressed to the UN Secretary General calling for the creation of a UN Commission to recognize Georgia’s occupation by Soviet Russia and place Georgia as a territory under an international trusteeship. A number of leading nationalist leaders including Zviad Gamsakhourdia, Merab Kostava, Gia Tchantouria and Irina Sarichvili were arrested as a result of the many protests in 1988-89.
  • These events in 1989 were followed two years later, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, by the Supreme Council of Georgia declaring independence on April 11th after a referendum held on 31 March 1991.