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The Rose Revolution as an Ideological Watershed

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Friday, November 26
In the politically polarized Georgian society, the 18th anniversary of the Rose Revolution turned out to be an excuse for a great deal of discussion between politicians and the media.

The positions taken towards the Rose Revolution once again showed that polarization has its ideological basis and it is a matter of orienting the Georgian state with values and vision of the future.

On November 23, part of the opposition, who took part in the Rose Revolution 18 years ago, or for whom its ideals are acceptable, took to the streets, and demonstrators stretched a long chain from Freedom Square to Republic Square in the center of Tbilisi. It was renamed Republic Square.

Even the renaming of this name shows the attitude of the Georgian Dream towards the Rose Revolution, and this is understandable because they can not positively assess the event, the main character of which is their ‘main enemy’ Mikheil Saakashvili.

Statements by opposition figures regarding the Rose Revolution, while emphasizing its importance in Georgia's recent history, noted that the main protagonist of the Rose Revolution, the Georgian Dream, was imprisoned and taken to a military hospital in Gori after a 50-day hunger strike.

The Rose Revolution is considered to be the most important and turning point in the post-Soviet history of Georgia, which spans three decades. According to the leaders of the National Movement, Georgia started the path of development right after the Rose Revolution and implemented the reforms that turned the country into a modern state.

The reforms implemented in Georgia after the Rose Revolution became attractive for other post-Soviet countries as well, because if 'Georgia did it', so could they. That is why the example of Georgia was unacceptable for Russia's neo-imperial plans, looking to entrap European countries into its Soviet ideology.

Mikheil Saakashvili himself released an open letter from the hospital, in which he stressed the importance of the Rose Revolution, the achievements of his 9 years of rule, and expressed hope that the Georgian people would be able to return to the ideals of the Rose Revolution.

According to Giga Bokeria, the achievements of the Rose Revolution are in great danger today 'thanks' to the Ivanishvili regime, and it is necessary to mobilize the part of the society that “believes in the freedom and future of this country to complete the work started by the Rose Revolution.”

The attitude of the leaders of the Georgian Dream towards the Rose Revolution is negative but heterogeneous. Some say that the Rose Revolution was planned and carried out by Russia, and therefore the leaders of this revolution are also pro-Russian forces.

However, this version does not sound very convincing because of Russia's hostile attitude not only to roses but to "color" revolutions in general.

Some, including the current prime minister, say the Rose Revolution "destroyed Georgia's economy." However, against this version, specific figures are given, according to which the economic growth of Georgia in the period following the Rose Revolution is significantly higher than the periods of "Shevardnadze" and "Georgian Dream".

On the 18th anniversary of the Rose Revolution, another version was voiced by Georgian Dream leaders - the ideals of the revolution were high and nothing could be said against it, but its creators "soon became the founders of a radical and violent regime" and did not lead the country to democratic development.

Unfortunately, the government that came after the Rose Revolution really made mistakes and this led to the removal of the "National Movement" from power, although the fact itself can be considered a democratic achievement of changing the government through elections.

If there is a real judgment on the mistakes made after the Rose Revolution and a desire to overcome them arises, this may lead to opposing forces in Georgian politics agreeing on what needs to be done to establish a democratic, human rights-based government.

An agreement on this seemed to have been reached. Recall after a long negotiation between the government and the opposition, a document created through the mediation of Charles Michel, which 100 days after the signing was canceled by the Georgian Dream.

The document called for steps to be taken to establish an independent judiciary, electoral reform that would build confidence in elections, this key democratic institution. It is in this direction that a solution can be found to the long-running crisis in Georgian politics.