Public Debates on "Participatory Politics"

Public Debates on "Participatory Politics"

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On May 27th, 2016, Auditorium #115 (I. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University) hosted Attila Melegh's Public Lecture The Defense of Internal and External Borders: Political Discourses and Key Elements of the Refugee Crisis.

How “creators” of global history (West, Russia) see us in their historical and cultural narratives?  What place do they give us? And why?

On April 23, 2015, Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office hosted public debates "How has civic activism changed local democracy?"

How do the state and politics define the formulation of culture into one officially sanctioned “ideologized” direction, and what should state policy be to allow for an open, free and inclusive environment? Is there a “radical” change in Georgian culture, and is the preservation of existing cultural memory necessary for public development?

Mkrtich Minasyan, MP representing the ruling Republican Party, began his presentation by listing the three most important elections held in the period from May 2012 to May 2013.

The first speaker, a journalist and political analyst from Tbilisi, Mikhail Vignanski began by pointing out that the situation in Georgia is developing very rapidly and attracts a lot of attention.

“The official discourse” of migration, is that in a situation of unemployment and economic hardship, migration is a generally positive phenomenon, as it creates an outlet for the economy. In the other, "opposition discourse,” migration is seen as a negative phenomenon and is often used to criticize government policy."

The theme of the first debate in 2013 is highly topical in Armenia. A lot is being said and written on the topic but most of the time, not in discussion format.

The speakers of the discussion spoke about the following issues: whether the employer has a hostile attitude towards the employee, what changes are being made to the Labor Code adopted in 2006, etc.

“According to the present constitution, the Autonomous Rep. of Adjara has no rights at all, and the only thing we manage to do is to control the budget.” This is how A. Chitishvili started his speech

Tevan Poghosyan - MP, HeritageParty;
Artak Zakaryan - MP, RepublicanParty,Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations;
Sergey Minasyan - Head of CI Political Studies Department

Even though the topic of the discussion was supposed to focus on aesthetics and forms of street protests, the speakers laid more emphasis on their content and talked about the goals of youth movements, the purpose of their formulation, and their future plans. Even the audience’s questions concerned the content of protests, the goals of youth movements, and their activeness and passiveness.

Karen Bakoyan – Head of the Division of Coordination of Local Self Governance Affairs at the Ministry for Territorial Administration;
Edgar Ghazaryan – Marzpet (Governor) of Vayoz Dzor;
Armen Galstyan –Deputy Director of International Center for Human Development (ICHD);
Moderator: Luisa Ayvazyan, Civic Program Coordinator, NDI

On the ninth anniversary of the Rose Revolution, the Heinrich Boell Foundation hosted a discussion on the “The Legacy of the Rose Revolution: Retrospective analysis and prospects for future developments.” The fact that the discussion was held in a semi-empty hall and the lack of questions asked could be indicators that Georgian society is not interested in the Rose Revolution any longer.

What should the format of cultural policy be? What are the key issues that could be referred to as defining the cultural policy field? Sopo Kilasonia and Niko Nergadze, journalists, Guram Odisharia, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, and Nini Sanadiradze, Project Manager for the National Museum of Georgia, raised these issues during a discussion on cultural policy hosted by the HBF.  

Representatives of NGOs, government, and the public gathered at the Press Cafe in Batumi on October 31 for a discussion organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation. They met to discuss the public and politics after the October elections and the public’s expectations for changes.

Tamar Gurchiani began her speech at HBF with a quote from the American Declaration of Independence, emphasizing the importance of life, liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness of people, and the state enabling people to have access to these rights.

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Gayane Shagoyan – anthropologist, Yerevan State University;
Tigran Khocharyan – blogger;
Alexander Iskandaryan – Political Scientist, CI Director;
Moderator: Tatev Sargsyan, Caucasus University

Almost 45% of the Georgian population has access to the Internet. In the capital, 60% of the population has access, while the rate in towns is 51%. Villages have much less coverage, with fewer than 20% of people able to access the Internet. More than 50% of Internet users seek information, 40% use social networks, while 26% use Facebook.

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Moderate political discourse, compared with radical discourse and decisions, locate the former in the “middle” of the political spectrum. Some politicians, within the context of upcoming elections, call moderates’ existence in society inappropriate.

The discussion participants included Ms. Rusudan Gotsiridze, Bishop of the Evangelical-Baptist Church of Georgia; Mr. Nikoloz Laliashvili, MP, Christian-Democratic Party; Mr. Rati Amaglobeli, poet; and Mr. Giorgi Maisuradze, philosopher and representative of the Berlin Literature and Culture Research Centre.

The public discussion on liberalism and liberal values held at the Heinrich Boell Foundation on 30 May, 2012 focused on society’s attitudes towards these values and its readiness or reluctance to accept them. The speakers included Ms. Salome Asatiani, a Radio “Freedom” Correspondent, Ms. Shorena Shaverdashvili, Editor of “The Liberali”, and Mr. Gela Bandzeladze, representing the political party Social-Democrats for Development of Georgia.

This discussion held in HBF’s office had fewer participants than other discussions. Both the moderator and speakers of the discussion presented their arguments regarding the public’s lack of interest towards human rights. “It seems that our society has a similar attitude towards human rights. Therefore, human rights are protected to the extent to which people pay attention to these issues according to the attitudes towards them. Or maybe public skepticism is so high that nobody believes that human rights will ever be protected here,” said Gogi Gvakharia to open this discussion.

On April 20, the Heinrich Boell Foundation organized a public discussion in Poti entitled “Why is Lazika being built?”

“The stereotype that we shifted the attention only to NGOs should be destroyed… In our society it is almost considered that civil activism relates solely to a type of organizational or non-governmental sector.” This view expressed at the discussion precisely reflects the problem or puzzle that the Georgian civil society sector currently faces.  

What is a function of student’s self-governance, how student self-government bodies are elected, what is a duration of the elected self-government bodies, how the functions of the student self-governments differ from each other at various Georgian universities, what is a rate of trust in this institution, what are major problems students in Georgia face and how the student self-government bodies support students in solving these problems, what was the reason for establishing an alternative student movement – these were some of the issues discussed during the debate held at the HBF on 14 December 2011.

A public debate at the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office held on 16 November 2011 was devoted to the issue of Administration of justice and protection of human rights in the justice system in Georgia.

The reaction of the Georgian public to the adoption of "The Rule of Registration of Religious Organizations as Legal Entities of Public Law”, endorsed in July 2011 by the Georgian Parliament, was not homogenous.

On 19 July, 2011, a public discussion in Poti, organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, was devoted to the issue of results of the certification examinations.

Is tourism the sole source of income in Adjara? – this question was raised several times during the public discussion organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation on 18 July 2011 at the Press Café in Batumi.

On June 23, 2011 a public debate in Batumi, organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, was devoted to the issue of results of the certification examinations in Adjara.

Levan Aleksishvili, Executive Director of the TV Company “Gurjaani”
Irakli Absandze, Freelance journalist, Head of the Association “Argomedia”
Ia Antadze, Head of the Civil Development Institute Board
Moderated by Gogi Gvakharia

“Functions of the Supreme Council of Adjara” was the topic of the public discussion organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation on April 15, held in the Press Café. The Supreme Council of Adjara is the highest legislative body of the Autonomous Republic that implements control over the government and approves the budget of the Republic.

On April 14, the South Caucasus Regional Office of the HBF organized a public debate in the city of Poti on the issue of the role of the media in the civil society development process. A major part of the debate was devoted to discussing current problems in this sphere.

On 3 December 2010, the HBF South Caucasus Regional Office together with its partner organization the Center for Regional Development and Initiatives hosted a public debate dedicated to the role of the Telavi State University after I. Gogebashvili in the development of civil society in Kakheti.

In the public debate held at the Telavi St. University, participants included local journalists from Kakheti region, as well as representatives from the local government and opposition parties. According to the statement of G. Mosiashvili, the head of the Conservative Party Telavi Organizarion, media in Kakheti is especially active. However, he expressed dissatisfaction with regards to the cancellation of “Maestro” broadcasting by Telavi Cable Channel “Gorda.”

Jury trials, a method of trying court cases that involves engagement of a non-professional jury, are standard practice in many countries around the world. Just recently, this institution was introduced in Georgia.

Universities and university education in general, play an important role in the political and socio-economic development of every country. The Batumi State University is one of the principal universities in the Adjara region that has been playing a special role in the revival and the development of region’s education and culture.

According to some data, the Georgian economy contracted 4% in the year of 2009. This year, the growth forecasted by the Georgian Government consisted of 2%. The foreign direct investment in Georgia fell to USD 658.4 million in 2009, 57.8% down from 2008's USD 1.563 billion, according to the data released by the Geostat, the Georgian statistics office.

On 24 June 2010, the HBF in partnership with the Center for the Regional Development and Initiatives organized a public debate in Telavi. The topic of the debate was:  Main challenges for the local self-governance in the Kakheti Region.

Increasing the awareness of the population of Georgia on the issues of political participation is of paramount importance for the development of civil society in the country. With this in mind the HBF embarked on the way of reaching out the local population in the regions and raise the issues of relevance to their daily lives.

On 18 June 2010, the HBF South Caucasus Regional Office, in cooperation with the local Batumi-based non-governmental organization – The Center for Regional Development and Initiatives, organized a public debate ‘The Challenges to the Civil Society in Georgia’ in Batumi.

The existence of strong democratic institutions in the regions is the key for the successful democratic reforms in the country. In this regard, the strong local self-government is the bases for the future democratic developments in the region.

Contemporary Azerbaijan is a largely oil based economy, which has been able to benefit from continual high world oil prices over the past years. Despite the double digit growth rates, which the country was able to maintain until recently, the development of human capital and with it the advance of science and research remains in a backward stage.

Georgia has amended its constitution more than ninety times since it was adopted in 1995. The frequency of alterations implies that the constitution currently neither corresponds to the needs of a transforming and modernizing Georgian state, nor to the demands and expectations of its people.

What is that the media in Adjara can do to support the democratic development process in the country and is there any possibility for the media to act as the controlling mechanism of the government in the region – these were the main issues discussed during the debates organized in Batumi on December 16th by the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

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Speakers of the debate expressed their own opinions on the following topics – realization of the events taking place in 1989-2009, searching for errors being made, public and state transformation, considering the experience of the past and finding the way out of the political crisis in the country.

Zaal Andronikashvili – Research Fellow, Center of Literature and Culture, Berlin;
Eka Aghdgomelashvili – Gender Specialist/"Inclusive" Foundation
Giga Zedania – I. Chavchavadze State University
Moderation: Giorgi Gvakharia

Gia Nodia – Political Scientist;
David Usupashvili – Chairman of Republican Party of Georgia
Moderation: Giorgi Gvakharia

List of Public Debates conducted at the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office in 2008 and summaries of these events are available here.

List of Public Debates conducted at the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office in 2007 and summaries of these events are available here.

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List of Public Debates conducted at the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office in 2006 and summaries of these events are available here.

List of Public Debates conducted at the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office in 2005 and summaries of these events are available here.

List of Public Debates conducted at the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office in 2004 and summaries of these events are available here.