The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.
-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia
As a host, I am obliged to brief our foreign guests on modern Georgia, its hardships and joys, its threats and dreams. Perhaps the foreign part of this audience will see many parallels with their own countries and draw relevant conclusions for their own reality.
Our ancient country is one of the oldest Christian nations in the world. We are proud owner of a rare, authentic language, culture, alphabet, and polyphony; we are one of the planet’s most indigenous ethnoses, which scientists believe has lived here for at least 6,000 years. And we are yet again torn in the battle of the superpowers. Perhaps not blameless, we host you in hard times for our nation. But as you will see during your visit, no hardship prevents us Georgians—or Qartveli as we call ourselves—from being happy, hospitable, and respectful towards our guests.
We Georgians believe that when God gave lands to the nations, we were, as always, late. We asked God to forgive us for being late, because we were hosting guests. And we asked Him to, nonetheless, give us a land to live in as well. The Forgiving Father gave us the last piece of earth, which He had actually saved for Himself. This is how we came to live in this majestic paradise. And this is why all the superpowers at all times have wanted to own us, and why our history is nothing but trying to stay Qartveli in the face of a supreme force—each one arrogant, promising us liberation from the previous power, promising us the permanent dominance of its own values. This era is not our first era of survival; the experience of a modern Western empire battling the Russian empire over Georgia is not at all new to us. Over thousands of years, the battles have waged: ancient Greece versus Parthia, Mazdeanic Persia versus Greece, Shiite Iran versus the Byzantine Empire, Arab caliphs versus Mongol Khans, the Ottomans versus the Czars, and the communists versus the capitalists.
This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Georgia’s ancient state and its independence from communism. Perhaps it is important to stress that Georgia’s longing for the restoration of its statehood was never Russophobic; together with our Russian brothers we have endured and got rid of first fascism and then communism. Before that, Christian Russia helped Christian Georgia in its existential struggle against extermination, although at the unacceptable cost of abolishing our kingdom and our church’s independence. But our desire to restore Georgian independence was always unshakable, rooted in the profound understanding that a nation of our culture and history could never be truly healthy and could never realize its full potential as part of another country.
Generations of our heroes have fought and sacrificed their lives for this holy cause; my generation was honored to be the last one. Undoubtedly, the terror and hardships that befell our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were infinitely greater that those that fell upon us, but we, too, had to defend our share of Saqartvelo.
Twenty-seven years ago, on April 9, 1989, a few hundred meters from here, Soviet soldiers crushed a peaceful, pro-independence demonstration on Tbilisi’s historic Rustaveli Avenue. Civilians were killed with sharpened shovels, bullets, chemical gas, and heavy clubs; 19 died, of whom 16 were women, and hundreds were wounded. The world was shocked by the news, but soon forgot about these victims as the events on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square overshadowed the tragedy of Tbilisi.
Many of us hoped that this bloody event was the conclusion in a long quest for independence, but it was actually a prelude to many more tragedies and hardships to follow: civil wars; the occupation of our two regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and the loss of 22% of our territory; every eighth person ethnically cleansed and turned refugee from those regions; and finally the Western sponsored “Rose Revolution” in 2003, resulting in even more terror for our population.
When an independence-minded Georgia looked to the West with hope, it considered Western culture as a beacon of freedom for its citizens, their speech, their religion, and for private enterprise. What a disappointment. Instead of freedom for our citizens, we got a Western sponsored regime which, during the nine years of its rule, jailed over 330,000 people, giving it a staggering 0.1% official acquittal rate. For a country of our size this means that 7.5% of our entire population has recently been incarcerated; 10% of ethnic Georgians went to prison under the rule of the revolutionary regime; 35% of working-age Georgian males were put in jail by Mr. Saakashvili and his henchmen. At some point, when the number of prisoners jumped from some 10,000 to 31,000, Georgia moved from #50 or so in the world in terms of the percentage of its population jailed, to #2 in the world, right next to the world leader, the United States.
You want us to talk about the family situation in Georgia? I just did: almost no family was left untouched by this.
Instead of freedom of enterprise, we got, by the official statistics of Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office, 9,940 businesses harassed, oppressed, and/or confiscated by the Saakashvili regime. The owners were arrested and jailed, lost their shares, their buildings, their land, their cash, and their automobiles, and were released only after the payment of an official ransom and the signing over of their property either to the state or its favorite oligarchs.
You want us to talk about the family situation in Georgia? I just did: almost no businessman’s family was left untouched by this.
Instead of freedom of religion, we got the relentless humiliation of and attacks on our embattled Georgian Orthodox Christian Church, its Patriarch, its clergy, its preaching, its followers. The attacks were planned and perpetrated by hundreds of NGOs, established and lavishly funded by the West in our poor country; these NGOs propagated, employing and poisoning a part of our young generation, who in the absence of other employment and educational alternatives and in exchange for the 30 pieces of silver were bred in the spirit of anti-traditional cynicism and the false promise of freedom.
You want us to talk about the family situation in Georgia? I just did: no Christian family was left unhumiliated by this system.
Instead of freedom of speech, we got a totalitarian dictatorship of liberals on our television and in our press, and increasingly so in our educational institutions and bodies. These liberals’ main goal seems to be multiplying their own kind by means of a clan-like discrimination against others, and by exhibiting on a non-stop basis shamelessness and perversion and ruthlessly crushing, mocking, demonizing, and ignoring the voice of traditional Georgian society.
You want us to talk about the family situation in Georgia? I just did: no family, no adult or child viewer in Georgia has been left untouched by this.
Despite the terror of the Rose Revolution and its full support from the West, our people opposed the rule it established with peaceful, democratic means. On November 7, 2007, and on May 26, 2011, Georgians staged peaceful protests on the same Rustaveli Avenue. They were crushed, not this time by the Red army, but by the Western-sponsored Georgian liberalism. The morning after the 2011 bloodbath, Saakashvili hosted a military parade, while two corpses of civilian victims of the massacre were hidden by the police on the rooftop of a nearby building. Every Western ambassador stood next to Saakashvili with not a single word of protest. Two years later, the West supported yet another attempt at the propaganda of anti-traditional values. And when Georgians opposed this attempt and chased the shameless propagandists from the site, without hurting them, the same cohort of Western ambassadors sang in a choir of outrage over us not accepting the shame parade. What conclusions can our society draw from this non-diplomatic offence? When Georgians are mutilated and killed by a Western-sponsored political regime, there is a victory parade the next day; when Georgians dare raise their voices against an attempt to impose a shameful set of pseudo-values upon us, the West is outraged.
In spite all of this, Georgians continued their struggle against the bloody regime and were able to change it through democratic elections in 2012. Nobody expected this outcome. God only knows what would have happened were it not for gruesome videos of prisoner rapes and beatings made public ahead of the election, which made the planned Western-sponsored falsification of the parliamentary election results impossible.
The newly elected government has prosecuted Saakashvili, who fled to the U.S. But instead of handing him to our authorities, his sponsors have deployed him to orchestrate another revolution, now as governor of war-torn Ukraine. To do this, he had to refuse his Georgian citizenship and become instead a Ukrainian citizen—an unprecedented case in international politics.
Wherever left alone by the West and its NGOs, the new government does some wonderful things. As an apolitical citizen I am obligated and happy to be objective and to admit these successes. Aside from stopping the terrorizing of the civilian population and private enterprise, which is a priceless achievement for this nation, the new government has implemented very successful healthcare reforms, raised farming and agriculture from its grave through numerous initiatives, introduced impressive tax and funding reforms for business and industry, and drastically reduced the corruption that completely embodied Saakashvili’s high ranks.
But unfortunately, this is not enough. Our country is still profoundly shocked over the horrors of the previous decade. The majority of this population is depressed and cynical
The new government has been able to justly prosecute only a handful of the previous regime’s criminals, in each case facing fierce resistance and PR attacks from the West. The new government has been held hostage to the everlasting threat of a Ukrainian-like military coup and the return of Ukraine-stationed Saakashvili and his gang, if it did not obey. So obey our officials did: under this threat the parliament and government have been passing laws and regulations that even the previous regime did not dare to pass. Our exhausted and depleted electorate, grateful at first to the new political force for salvation, has been left confused and awed at what has followed:
Numerous other initiatives, to most inconsequential but so painfully familiar to this audience, have been launched in a meteor-like shower of legal and policy initiatives: ongoing attempts to decriminalize “light impact” narcotics; legal bans on young marriages coupled with promotion of promiscuity among teenagers; state-funded c-sections resulting in abnormally high percentages of such procedures in our hospitals, resulting in harm to women’s fertility rate.
As a result we are dying: 50,000 or so more people die than are born in Georgia annually; 40,000-100,000 abortions are performed in Georgia every year, mostly among ethnic Georgians. Thanks to liberal propaganda, our citizens are under the illusion that these numbers are due to their economic hardships. They don’t realize what all of us in this room know: the richer the country, the fewer children its families bear. And if this was not indeed the case than why would other ethnic groups in Georgia (may they all live long and prosper with us) be multiplying under the same or worse economic conditions?
According to UN forecast, by 2050, our country’s population will be reduced by 28%, primarily at the cost of ethnic Georgians, whose numbers will be halved in the same period. Our beautiful, ancient nation is currently dying in a defunct, hellishly urbanized environment, in front of idiotic TV shows, while singing and dancing in thousands of casinos, night clubs, and bars.
In all our attempts to seek justice from the West, which stubbornly continues to shelter and promote aggressive liberalism in Georgia, we are told that those 330,000 people deserved to be jailed, those 10,000 businessmen were crooks, the church deserves to be attacked because it opposes freedom, our people need to be taught democracy.
Instead of the freedom expected from the West, we got jail, terror, perversion, and injustice. As a result, the Western idol in Georgia has fallen, no matter what our politicians and mainstream media tell you. This nation has already drawn it conclusions.
I say this with great disappointment, as one of the first Georgians to be sent to the West for education, during Gorbachev’s perestroika. We respect certain healthy features of the West, which we still need to adopt and instill in Georgia, but these have been completely overshadowed in our minds by the poison we have been dosed. The West lost Georgia when it attacked our traditional society, its roots and its cultural fabric. As the official West continues to show no remorse over its actions in Georgia, its remaining influence hinges upon its “support” of the territorial integrity of Georgia against Russian occupation. The day the Kremlin realizes this and begins reconciliation between Tbilisi and Sukhumi and Tbilisi and Tskhinvali will be the day the West loses Georgia completely. I say this with honest regret, as I believe Georgia can only be truly independent in a balanced and profound friendship with both superpowers.
Our main goal is reuniting Georgia, returning Abkhazia and Tskhinvali to Georgia and bringing our refugees back to their homes. We want to fill all of Georgia with happy, strong families, families of both ethnic Georgians and those who have lived alongside us for centuries, irrespective of their nationality or religion. Everything else is a possible tool for achieving this goal.
Hence, as a supporter of independent Georgia, peaceful and reunited, friendly with Russia and the West, a family- and tradition-centered Georgia, the only Georgia that can be, let me address from this podium our Western partners. And let me do this not as their enemy, but as their friend and critic, their disappointed critic:
Stop this madness now.
Do not interfere in the internal affairs of this sovereign state.
Cease financing attacks on our church and family through your hundreds of NGOs.
Apologize for Joe Biden’s, Hillary Clinton’s, and Barack Obama’s statements that national traditions no longer matter and that the United States’ main foreign policy priority is supporting homosexuality worldwide.
Stop this cultural war on the rest of the world, or you will lose not only Georgia, but your own countries, too
Your first president, George Washington, ruled at the same time as our last great king, Irakli II. Thousands of years before that, the parents of Europe, our Greek brothers, considered stealing wisdom from Georgia as the greatest act of heroism: Jason and the Argonauts went to Georgia to steal the Golden Fleece and Medea’s medicine. Ghvino is a Georgian word, which later became vino for the rest of the world; wheat varieties come from Georgian Khorbali; metallurgy was born here. Yes, we admire you for your short-lived, 200-year-long success. And as an eternal nation we want to learn from you the healthy aspects of your culture, like we have learned from much greater cultures than yours. But we are seeing clear signs of rot on your body, like we have seen on many others who have come and gone from here. You are unconvincing when you think you can teach us morality—some newly invented, pseudo-universal values—and how to be with our women and children. If friendship is not an empty word for you, learn these things from us, since you have clearly forgotten them, if you have ever known them. Learn them from us, like we want to learn from you how to lay better asphalt on our roads. Make this friendship of ours a two-way street, and you will be forgiven. Continue trying to occupy us and you will continue being unsuccessful. Try to scare us and you will be disappointed. Instead, make a clean start, be our friend, help us transform Georgia from a battlefield between you and Russia into a rare oasis of peaceful cultural dialogue. And please remember: Georgia is family and never, ever touch her again with anything but respect!
Levan Vasadze is the Chairman of the Georgian Demographic Society XXI and was the organizer of the World Congress of Families X.