Mikheil Saakashvili: “Georgia is a laboratory and a model of the fact that peaceful coexistence is possible without losing identity”
Dear Prime Minister, dear Secretary General, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a real honor to be here at this dialogue of the civilizations and organization with which we have been cooperating over reforms for several years, indeed what is more needed in today’s world. This is a Promethean project launched under your impulsion.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister Recep; who aims at promoting dialogues between cultures, religions and civilizations. What we are seeing in the region today, and the Secretary General spoke about issues of the region, is a new equation, a new balance of power. This is the balance of power based on not mere on physical force, but rather on the force of ideas, the force of new offerings, the force of new models, no matter whether this models comes from smaller countries or larger countries. We clearly see all over the Middle East in the wider middle east region an emergence of Turkey as a major regional leader, as a principal regional leader in the fight for peace, but also for new way of seeing things, a new direction for the region. We should ask why it is happening. Is turkey the most important military power here? Well it’s an important power, but there are other powers all the time meddling much more actively than Turkey. Is Turkey a main economic power? It’s an amazing economic power but there’s also the crossroads of all different economic powers that also are present here. I think what Turkey has in addition to being strong power and economic power is the amazing power of ideas, and an amazing model for the whole region. What was the option for the countries of the region? Either to play all the time one identity against the other, or just to suppress all the identities, to go after other identities, suppress them and to have the entire thing under one personality or a small group of people.
I think what Turkey offered through these decades, especially the last decades, is the liberating of identities, underlining the importance of identity of every culture, every background, every ethnic religion. While they manage at the same time not playing them against each other, but complimenting each other, enhancing each other, getting strength from each other, promoting each other, and ultimately promoting the whole society.
Well, we are a small country but we have a crossroads of civilizations of different big powers and we have different experiences with different powers. Obviously, Turkey was also a dominant power for many centuries for our part of the world, including my country, but when we got independence we got different reactions from different imperial powers in our part of the world. We received nervous reactions, neurotic reactions, and hysterical reactions as well when a former imperial power tried to, and still tries to take back our territory, trying to dominate with brutal direct means to our people, trying to kill the success of the dream of independence. This is nothing unheard of in other parts of the world that had happened among and around the territories of the former empire. And we have a Turkish model from the first day of our independence and the first day in office, Turkey embraced us, helped us, and tried to promote us at every value. Turkey at present has tried to open new opportunities and basically help us back on our feet, formally. And it really resulted in an enhanced Turkish position in this region as well. And that’s a good example how we approach your strength. How you participate, your model; Turkey’s democracy and also Turkey’s democracy, which is multicultural and multi-religious. That’s exactly what is appealing right now to all the regions of the world; to this region which is very important to the world. And that’s why this alliance of civilizations grows, flourishes and exists with each other and not in isolation or even worst, in confrontation. It aims at proving the pessimist wrong, the fatalists, and other activists of all sorts that predicted the disunion and destruction of the bridges that unite all of us from all continents’ cultural backgrounds. I’m proud to say, it corresponds both to the deep identity of my nation and to the policy we’ve been pursuing since the Rose Revolution in my country in 2003. And at the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, more than 20 years ago, two theorists have emerged in the West, two very different theorists both equally dominant and both equally dangerous; theorists who theorize about the end of our history and the clash of civilizations. When the Berlin Wall had collapsed the first fashion was to declare that history was over, everything was achieved, life was perfect, and that’s the end of the history. Very quickly, new bloody wars appeared including in the center of Europe, but they were overlooked and defined as some kind of exceptions, maybe that didn’t matter as part of a general trend. They overlooked as low intensity conflicts of suburban wars some kind of ………….. of the bloody past. So what happened on September 2011 woke everybody up to the idea of what we are really facing. The idea was a clash of civilizations. The idea that civilizations can never reconcile, that there has always been a conflict and there is no way you can get out of this. We need as an alternative, an alliance of civilizations. Of course, since the new generation came to Georgia in 2003, a generation firmly rejecting the Soviet and the post soviet mentality, we consented to work together to reverse the legacy divisions and hatreds. You know how it was; the Soviet Union was a deeply racist society. Racists against Africans, against Asians, they were racists against their own peoples; they were playing one identity against another, one ethnic and religious group against another. But I grew up in a city where Mosques, Synagogues, Churches of different denominations stand together. We grew up with this identity. I think, we are building now, despite all attempts of former imperial occupants to stage ethnic or religious conflicts in our small nation, we manage to create a multicultural, multiethnic and multi religious common dynamic, to recreate I should say, looking at our history, we are proud of having multiple influences at the heart of our identity. We are proud to have become once a laboratory of existence, a laboratory of the principles of this alliance. We are proud of our unique relations with Turkey, we are proud of our new laws, because we just adopted a law on giving rights about all different religious, that was praised by the Pope in Rome as a sparkle of light in times of very dark and bad news all over the world; a sparkle of tolerance, the sparkle of religious groups between different identities.
You can count on Georgia as firm partner in the crusade for all the crusades in the Promethean task of building bridges instead of blowing up bridges. It is our responsibility as political leaders to show the path and to set an example.
Thank you for this wonderful occasion.