Presentation of the Project – Writers for European Values
On October 9, 2017, EPF grantee, Education for All Children, visited the village of Partarzeuli and organized a discussion on Georgian and European values in the courtyard of the House-Museum of Giorgi Leonidze, a well-known Georgian writer, poet, and literary scholar of 20th century. The event was held within the EPF-supported project, Writers for European Values, which aims at addressing the existing negative stereotypes about the European Union (EU) by highlighting the congruity of European values with Georgian identity.
Ketevan Vashakidze, the President of Europe Foundation, opened the event. She underscored that while the underlying values and principles of the EU are in no way different from those that underpin our society, there is still a need to showcase the congruity of European values with Georgian identity. She highlighted that the respect for human rights and the rule of law, tolerance, anti-discrimination, and peaceful co-existence, which are promoted by the European Union through various instrument that are designed to improve the lives of ordinary citizens are not new to the Georgian psyche and can be traced back to Georgia’s historical attempt to attache itself to Europe.
After the opening remarks, the 21st century writers, Dato Turashvili, Rati Amaghlobeli, and Lasha Bughadze, took the floor and talked about the specific connections between the European values and Georgian identity. “The European civilization and Georgian civilization both rest one and the same value –supremacy of a human being” noted Dato Turashvili, who preceded Rati Amaghlobeli’s discussion that focused on specific examples of prominent Georgia writers, where the nexus of European and Georgian values are most clearly present. Accordig to Amaghlobeli, “the much-spoken European values, such as the respect for human being and human dignity, freedom, and equality, are well-reflected in the masterpieces of Georgian literature, including such works as Vepkhistkaosani by Rustaveli, Aluda Ketelauri and Stumar-Maspindzeli by Vazha Pshavela, as well as in the writings of Ilia Chavchavadze and Davit Guramishvili. … If we try to embrace all the aspects of our culture, we will not have any dissonance with European culture,” noted Amaghlobeli. As a summation of these talks, Lasha Bughadze talked about the groundlessness of the fear of losing national identity and traditions in the process of European integration. He noted the recent discourse about incongruity of Georgian traditions with European values is artificially triggered by Russia, which is ironic, given that for two hundred years, it was political Russia that was threatening the Georgian identity. He underscored that given the unequivocal respect for the rule of law and adherence to tolerance and diversity, Georgian identity is best protected within the European family. After these initial remarks, the guests engaged in further candid discussions with the audience, which had ample questions and comments for the writers.
Rati Amaghlobeli, Lasha Bughadze, and Davit Turashvili will conduct similar interactive discussions in various parts of Georgia, challenging the audience, both young and old, to deconstruct the existing negative stereotypes about Europe and to take a fresh and more informed look at Georgian history, literature, and cultural heritage. By providing concrete examples and emphasizing the European values of respect for diversity and national traditions, the speakers will help the audience see the groundlessness of their fears and encourage them to embrace Georgia’s European integration efforts. The lectures will be turned into a book.