Saturday, June 20, 2009

Georgia: The Rose of the Caucasus (part 2)

Last time I shared my first impressions of the visit to Georgia and the beauty of the country. Here is the second part of my impressions of my trip to Georgia.

In addition to everything I saw and learned about Georgia, it was impressive to visit one of the regional offices of the CDM in Telavi. The leader of the office demonstrated how they try to involve the local people in the activities of the CDM. They have a lot of people involved already and have organized special actions, like a walk to a local church that was difficult to reach. This created not only a good team feeling for the leadership team of the regional branch of the party but also much goodwill for the people in the area that is difficult to reach, because although the cities are well-developed, the rural areas are still quite poor and in need of development.

Toast your heritage

In the evening, a special surprise was prepared: for my birthday they organized a special dinner in a very traditional place in Telavi. Many toasts were offered, which is a special habit in Georgia. First they toast the guests; “We honor guests, because the guests come from God” is a special Georgian saying. This hospitality became very clear to me during the visit. Also it actually reminds me of the Biblical phrase where the apostle Paul asks us: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebr. 13:2). This was followed by toasts for the ancestors, family, grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, children and so on (the last ones I cannot remember very well). And if you don’t have children yourself, for example, you toast the children of the world…..

It is a very nice habit to honor all the people and to think about them and also to think about your own roots, your communities where you grew up, which you are part of and formed you. Your community creates your environment, so it is good to have a special evening of joy to think about this and to pay respect to all the people who have had a positive influence on you.

The collaboration protocol

The official signing of the collaboration between the CDM and the ECPM took place the following morning. This was organized in the press room of the CDM with the party leadership present, as well as a lot of representatives of the Georgian media (including many television stations). The protocol was very well prepared and in front of many cameras, George Targamadze and I signed the collaboration protocol. After this official meeting, I met different representatives and the party’s Members of Parliament and we discussed pragmatically many areas of collaboration. I learned a lot about the way they were thinking, how they mediate their events and about their excellent combination of enthusiasm and pragmatism. At the end of the meeting I was given a special present: a small gilt model of an ancient statue of a lion, a symbol of Georgia and by coincidence also fitting with my name. I also received a special gift, a box containing two bottles of wine with a painting on it of the famous Georgian painter Pirosmani whose paintings I saw in the museum in Signagi.

The visit finished with a visit to the old monastery of Svetitskhoveli (with a view of the monastery Jvari built on the mountain) and the Sameba (“Holy Trinity”) church in Tiblisi consecrated in 2004. This latter church is not only the largest religious building in Georgia but also listed among the largest Orthodox Churches in the world. It is the symbol of the Georgian national and spiritual revival.

Georgia… the rose of the Caucasus

Georgia impressed me and I believe both in the future of the country and in the great potential of the CDM. I believe that the party will be of crucial importance and make a significant contribution in mediating the difficult situation in Georgia and in restoring democratic values on a healthy (I hope) Christian Democratic foundation, based on enthusiasm and vision but also pragmatism and realism.

Georgia is a country that strives for progress, the country of the Rose Revolution that strives for freedom and values. But it is necessary to prune the thorns that still make the country bleed (see my item posted before: “The Thorns of the Rose Revolution”). Also growth is hindered by the big thunder of the war, and the difficult relationship with Russia and its continuous interests and pressure. However I hope and pray that the international community will fertilize the ground and cherish this beautiful country of the Caucasus so that despite the difficult circumstances, it will flourish, grow and spread a good and pleasant aroma for the countries around it.

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