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The "velvet revolution" might bring
Positive Peace in Georgia



Tamara Tsikhistavi

Candidate of MAS in Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation, Trainer and Researcher at ICCN

TFF Peace Antenna

December 12, 2003

The "velvet revolution" in Georgia has shown that violent political systems based on the violation of human rights always collapse. There were several reasons for the "velvet revolution" that started against the government of Georgia.

One of the main reasons behind the revolution was structural violence. Indirect violence has been used against the population of Georgia for quite some time and it had become the foundation of the internal-domestic policy. The human rights of all citizens of the country were violated.

On the one hand, we saw the violation of human rights of the citizens of Georgia; on the other hand a corrupt government. These together created the fundamental dynamics of conflict escalation between the population and the government of Shevardnadze.

The state had neither capacity nor an appropriate agenda to develop successful economic, political and social programs that could or would have satisfied the basic human needs of the people.

After declaring independence in 1991, the country started facing political and economic crises because of the weak state that followed as a consequence of the dissolution of the USSR. Long after the collapse of the USSR, its center - Russia - still maintained control over the political, economic and social development of Georgia. As a result of the declaration of independence, several former Soviet republics lost the political, economic and security support they used to have from the Soviet Union.

Thus, the former Soviet republics were left without a strong state political-economic structures and became very weak, and that was one of the major causes of internal conflicts as well. The weak governance of Georgia facilitated destabilization and created a nourishing environment for internal conflicts. Facing internal problems and policy mistakes made by the first government of Georgia, the situation for the external intervention in the internal conflicts of the country began to look auspicious.

The economic crisis and the weak state created a series of serious problems for the population and became the source of tension that turned into violent conflicts, involving masses of people. The internal problems and destabilization after the declaration of independence, wrong internal policy of the first government of Georgia, the external intervention in internal conflicts - all these factors made Georgia dependent on the International Community.

Facing such a high scale crisis, the Military Council of Georgia, together with the opposition, started fighting against Zviad Gamsakhurdia - the first president of independent Georgia, and used violence to overthrow him and establishing "democratic institutions of governance, which would guarantee freedom and protection of human rights for all citizens".

Such excuses or explanations by the opposition, which decided to use a violent way to solve the above-mentioned problems, caused destabilization throughout the country, leading to many more negative consequences and initiated internal conflicts. After these violent events, already on March 6, 1992 Mr. Eduard Shevardnadze returned from Russia and most of the people considered him as a person capable of establishing a democratic state system in Georgia.

The Georgia President Shevardnadze inherited after the collapse of the USSR was one with a distracted economic and political system, typically weak state structures and governance together with destabilizing, internal conflicts. In addition, political dependence on the regional and international political actors increased.


Georgia - Another victory for non-violence.
The British in India, the Shah of Iran, Marcos in the Philippines, Solidarnosc, the Velvet Revolution in Chechoslovakia, the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Pinochet in Chile, Milosevic in Serbia and now Shevardnadze in Georgia: nonviolence changes the world for the better and offers hope.
Contrast Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Iraq - where military intervention and bombings brought neither peace nor hope.
Why is the obvious strength of non-violence disregarded by the media and our politicians?

-Jan Oberg, TFF Director

Donate online to TFF's work in Georgia

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Bidra via postgiro till vårt arbete i Georgia

Støt TFFs arbejde i Georgia per postgiro

There was a great hope and expectation that the famous diplomat Mr. Eduard Sevardnadze would finally bring stability and peace to the country.

He did it - he established Negative Peace in Georgia by stopping direct violence in the country but his leadership developed indirect, structural violence, which was based on violation of human rights and ignorance of the basic human needs of the population.

This kind of political system based on structural violence, corruption, ignorance of Basic Human Needs has become the main reason of the frustration, protest and motivation for the "Velvet Revolution", led by the opposition political parties and their leaders - Mr. Saakashvili, Ms. Burjanadze and Mr. Zhvania.

The political orientation of the opposition leaders, based on democratic values and protection of human rights, should be able - at least potentially - to bring lasting peace to the country. It would imply the protection of human rights, resolution/prevention of violent conflicts and development of democratic values.

On the one hand, the political ambitions of these leaders should contribute to the establishment of Positive Peace through achieving political, economic and security support/assistance from the regional and international political leaders and decision- making organisations. On the other hand, there are very many internal and external problems that must be solved before Positive Peace can be developed in the country.

President Shevardnadze did manage to establish Negative Peace, now there is expectation that Mr. Saakashvili, Ms. Burjanadze and Mr. Zhvania will finally establish Positive Peace. The population of the country still has high hopes that this time the political leaders really will bring the peace, the democracy and the protection of human rights that would guarantee a sustainable development of the whole country.




© TFF & the author 2003  



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