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Civil society and Politics

Monday, November 5
On November 2, the Eurasia Partnership Foundation held a panel discussion on the role of civil society in political transformations. The event was dedicated to the 5th year anniversary of the foundation’s activity in Georgia.

The Eurasia Partnership Foundation views politics as the process in which various interest groups within society clearly identify their interests and negotiate the means to reach them, where political institutions shape and influence the process and outcome of this negotiation. Political transformation, i.e. the change of political institutions by social actors, thus reflects the crucial link between processes of the change of the political landscape and the individual lives of different people. Relatively new civil society institutions, NGOs, business associations, as well as “traditional” civil society, e.g. professional associations of poets, writers, sports professionals, incorporates ethnic groups, and religious congregations, play an increasingly important role as substitutes, antagonists, or associates of political institutions and the state. Nowadays, politics cannot be accurately analyzed without looking at the actions of civil society that shape and transform political institutions.

Are old and new actors outside political institutions and the state becoming increasingly important for political life on all levels? Is the concept of Western political theory, where civil society and the state strengthen each other in a system of checks and balances useful to describe political reality in Georgia? Can we describe the relationship between state and society in Georgia in a different manner? In what direction is civil society transforming the political and state institutions? What consequences does this have for society’s ability to negotiate its own future?

The speakers of the discussion were Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, Deputy Minister for Reintegration, Tamar Glonti – President of the Guria Youth Resource Center, Zaal Andronikashvili, Professor at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research in Berlin and David Paitchadze, Professor at Ilia State University.