Government celebrates Diaspora
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, May 28
The Day of the Georgian Diaspora was celebrated in Tbilisi on May 27. Nearly 100 emigrant Georgians from 25 foreign countries participated in a series of events commemorating the day organised by the Georgian Government.
Minister of Economy Zurab Pololikashvili, Minister for Diaspora Issues Papuna Davitaia, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Diaspora Issues Nugzar Tsiklauri and Chair of the Civil Registry Giorgi Vashadze held a meeting with Diaspora representatives on May 27 at the Hotel Radisson Blu Iveria, where the issues of Georgians living abroad were discussed. Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze also hosted the emigrants in Parliament.
“Our Diaspora has become a serious force, as it unites Georgian traditions and European values in one. The combination of these two elements is extremely significant for us and for the country’s prosperity. The importance of the Diaspora is well known to all, which is why there have been attempts by the Russian side to use Diaspora representatives to pursue their hostile aims. However these efforts have failed, as the patriotism of Georgian emigrants is too deep,” Bakradze said. Papuna Davitaia stated that, “The Georgian Diaspora has a great potential to make significant positive moves to serve Georgia's interests, however this potential is not still being utilised because there is no regulated state policy in this direction. We have developed different educational and economic programmes for the Georgian Diaspora and seek to deepen contacts with Diaspora representatives, and we talked about these during our meeting. Strengthening relations with the Georgian Diaspora is one of the main priorities of the Government.” Grigol Vashadze added that “Georgian emigrants who desire to gain Georgian citizenship will soon be able to do online. It will be made significantly easier for them to obtain Georgian ID cards.”
Later that day the dignitaries were hosted at Public School number 31 in Tbilisi. The school is named after emigrant Akhmed Melashvili. They also attended the opening of the art exhibition 'Traces of Georgians in the World' at the State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography and were introduced to infrastructural projects planned and underway in Tbilisi.
Opposition National Council member Kakha Kukava told The Messenger that the people celebrating in Tbilisi were not real Diaspora representatives. "The Diaspora really can play a significant role for the country, but the present Government does nothing to make this happen. The people who have come to Georgia today are not real Diaspora representatives, they are people bribed by the present Government to come and show the public that the Diaspora supports the Government, which is not true. The opposition however has contact with genuine emigrants, and as soon as the elections are over Diaspora centres and offices will be opened by us in different foreign countries, which will have close relations with the Governments of those countries and conduct really significant activities for Georgia, especially in the direction of restoring territorial integrity,” stated Kukava.
Analyst Giorgi Khutsishvili told The Messenger, "There are frequent comments about how important a role the Diaspora might play but nothing serious has been done to forge closer relations with emigrants and institute different programmes for conducting ongoing relations with them. This will not be achieved in two or three days, but the Government needs to work on this every day. All interested parties should be involved in this process. The Diaspora should not be remembered only once a year, it should be on the agenda the whole year," Khutsishvili said.
"Maybe the Government is trying to show that the Diaspora is on its side by holding this meeting, but this is unacceptable because Diasporas should not be used for such purposes. Emigrants should be actively involved in all the processes taking place in the country,” Khutsishvili added.