Georgia reassesses its past
By Salome Modebadze
Monday, April 12
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili established a Special Commission Ascertaining Historical Justice at the Museum of Occupation on April 9. The Commission aims to establish the truth about the political attitude of Russia towards our country over the last 200 years. Commission members will collectively evaluate Georgia's history, especially highlighting the post Soviet period, and present opinions both historical and juridical.
“It is critical for Georgians to know our modern history, especially nowadays. History is not either a story in a book or a swirl of negative information released by a particular TV station, but one of the main reasons for continuing the war in order to prevent something worse happening in future,” Saakashvili said. “I would advise everyone to observe the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the situation in one of the other post-Soviet Union countries [referring to Kyrgyzstan] and draw conclusions,” he added, signing the order establishing the Commission.
Vasil Kacharava, historian, Professor of Tbilisi State University and Director of the Institute of American Studies, told The Messenger, "The establishment of a Commission to study the historical past of Georgia is vitally important for our country. This will become an important touchstone, especially for our politicians, who will now be able to assess all the positive and negative aspects of their political life. Members of the Commission will assess historical materials, comparing Georgian sources with those kept in the archives of neighboring countries in order to establish the truth. It may take years to address all the relevant issues but a well-organised team of professional historians will give the public the most truthful information.
"The Commission must be absolutely impartial so that its members can identify all the positive and negative events in our history. Not everyone may like everything – but ensuring freedom from political bias is the most important basis for establishing such commissions, doing it any other way would have a negative affect on our society,” Kacharava explained.
Analyst Nika Chitadze stressed the importance of the Commission in establishing the definitive facts about Georgian-Russian relations not only over the last 200 years but from earliest times. “I welcome this initiative. It is important for both countries to assess all the facts in an objective way. The engagement of analyst Tornike Sharashenidze, a member of the Russia-Georgia Conflict Research Centre [studying not only bilateral relations between the two countries but also developments in Russia itself] at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) and the experience of GIPA will play an important role in supporting the newly-established Commission,” Chitadze told us.
The Messenger also asked Davit Darchiashvili, Chair of the European Integration Committee of Parliament, his opinion of the initiative as a fellow historian. “The establishment of such commissions is really important for any person dealing with the history of the country. But it is vital to ensure impartiality. I would accept engagement in this research process with great pleasure as it is so important for us to define ourselves in a variety of ways and realise who we are and where we come from. History can’t be changed; it’s deep enough to be covered,” Darchiashvili stated.
It has been reported that Vasil Rukhadze, who is studying for a Doctorate at Cambridge University, and analyst Tornike Sharashenidze will chair the Commission, but unfortunately The Messenger was unable to contact them due to technical problems.