June 20th. How I Got My Georgian Reality Check.
As much as this blog may be focusing on the creative industries — I can’t act as if I wasn’t a part of the society of the country I live in. Georgia. Tbilisi. And what happened in my new home town yesterday night can’t be left without comment.
To be honest — I don’t fully understand all the details of what led to the massive demonstrations in front of the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi yesterday. But it doesn’t take rocket science to understand that it might not be the smartest of ideas to put a Russian politician in the seat of the president of the parliament and let him speak from there. You might call it downright stupid, actually.
What I do know, though: everything that I saw happening live on television yesterday night looked more or less exactly like what happened in Istanbul six years ago. And I feel sick with déja vu.
For the second time in my life I am living in a city where the police is firing rubber bullets and tear gas cartridges directly at the heads of demonstrators. Again, people are losing their eyes as a consequence, people are severely injured, and some of these assaults have happened right in front of the TV cameras.
Firing rubber bullets directly and willfully at the heads of demonstrators from less than five meters is attempted murder. And it’s horrible to see what it does to the people that get shot, even if they survive.
People keep asking me about Georgia, why I went and what it’s like. And I keep saying it’s sort of the only really democratic country in the whole region. That it’s safe and friendly, and that the young people in the country are actually seen as the future of Georgia.
And I keep saying that the future of the country is based in its European roots, that it’s very important to bring experts from Western Europe to the country to continue the great development the country has taken over the course of the last ten years.
What do I tell them now? How do I convince them that this government is creating an environment that makes it safe do do business here? How do I convince people from Western Europe to join us on our journey if they see this?
We want to do international business here, we want to do something for the future of Georgia. We want people to come to Georgia, not people leaving because this place is somehow pretending to look West when it actually is selling out towards the North.
I will keep up the good hope for the future of my new home country. And I hope yesterday night was the ony déja vu I am going to have.
When I fly back to Tbilisi, I will change planes in Istanbul. It will feel strange.