How and why did Georgia succeed, and what is going on presently in the country. In Tbilisi a satiated 5-day conference “Justice as a Prerequisite of Peace and Development” was held within the framework of the international project of cooperation between the Ukrainian Catholic University and the Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani Teaching University.
From UCU participants in the conference included the representatives of the Center of the Rule of Law, Management School, LvBS, Institute of Leadership and Management, International Institute of Ethics and Contemporary Issues. The UCU delegation received the unique possibility of hearing first-hand how the Georgian reforms were planned and implemented, and at what stage the country is right now. Both universities did not only have the opportunity to exchange experiences, but also to create a plan of action for creating teaching programs, especially in the sphere of Public Administration, Law, and Ethics.
“It is significant that this project is taking place in non-state universities,” commented Vice Rector Oleh Turiy. “We are not ‘monsters’ in the educational field, but small universities which were established by the Church and which form their activities on ethical principles. It is this which brought us both closer to one another and created the possibility to feel that we really are partners, for each of us this cooperation is natural and stems from our identity. The situation in Georgia and in Ukraine is also very similar, since we have gone through late but revolutionary changes, and our nations chose the democratic European road of development, and it is precisely this choice that clashed with the outside aggression, which we still will experience for a long time. Therefore, it is important for us to think together about how to change society, how to change ourselves, how to carry out reforms after the revolution during aggression, but without malice, and basing oneself on the eternal values of good, which always win.”
During the first day the conference participants listened to a presentation about the functioning of the Constitutional Court in Georgia by Professor Dimitriy Gegenava (Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani Teachenig University), Director of Prince David Institute of Law, Nino Baghashvili from the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association presented a well-grounded research on the quality of law education in Georgia. In particular she highlighted the following educational problems: poor knowledge of English, difficulties in resolving cases, problems with interpreting laws. This emerges from the lack of practical skills. These issues also echo the educational problems in Ukraine.
The second day of the conference began with a meeting with Irakli Alasania, Former Minister of Defense of Georgia. He believes that both countries do not have a way for a military resolution of a conflict: “We, in Georgia, have become convinced of this. The only resolution which is long-termed but possible — an economic growth and the formation of an environment for interaction of people from various regions within the country, Strong economy, active trading within the country, possibility of entering new markets, creating conditions for running a business (especially small), the creation of a high quality national product, capable of competing on the global markets– those are the key elements which will promote peace and the return of annexed territories in both of our countries.”
Irakli Alasania believes that the annexed territories in both Ukraine and in Georgia have to feel the support of the West in order to see that there is an alternative to Russia. “Our countries also have to maintain an uncompromising position as to a pro-European direction of development, implementing quick and active reforms, and then Russia will have no alternative, except how to adapt oneself to the situation.”
Profesor Tornike Sharashenidze, Georgia Institute of Public Affairs, continued the day with a lecture on how Russian ideology influences the post-soviet countries. He believes that one of the greatest problems for us is, unfortunately, that most Russians do not know history: “Why do Russians take pride in Stalin? Because they do not know history, how he forced so many people to suffer, especially also Russians themselves. They are afraid of history and are afraid of the consequences of that knowledge. Can we offer a positive alternative for Russia?” he asked.
The third day of the conference started with a meeting with Zurab Tchiarebashvili, Former Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs of Georgia.
Educational reforms were covered by Proffesor Ghia Nodia, Former Minister of Education and Science of Georgia: “As a
result of reforms, the education system in Georgia became more varied, more open to talents and innovations, ready to take part in cooperation on an international level.”
The last day of the conference culminated in a discussion about the interreligious situation in Georgia and government policy on religious issues with Beka Mindiashvili, Head of the Tolerance Center under the Auspices of the Public Defender.
It is noteworthy that Georgians are supportive of Ukraine and say that Georgia cannot be successful unless Ukraine is, and vice versa. We are really grateful to our Georgian colleagues for this new experience and a very interesting and intensive conference, and we are looking forward to welcoming a Georgian delegation from the Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani Teaching University at the Ukrainian Catholic University in December. We hope to have an interesting intellectual and academic discussion and exchange of experience between our countries.
The project “New Ideas with New Powers: Social Changes in the Post-Communist Countries Undergoing Reform (Ukraine and Georgia)” is being implemented with the support of the Renovabis Foundation in Germany and the German Federal Foreign Office.
The project envisages conducting two two-week workshops (one in Tbilisi and one in Lviv) aimed at harmonizing concepts for developing new training programs and curricula, as well as at exchanging practical experience of implementing reforms in education, public administration, local self-government, the court system, and law-enforcement bodies.