About the Chavchavadze Center
The Chavchavadze Center is the first civil society organization in Georgia modeled after European political foundations. Founded by former senior diplomats and leading international lawyers, the Center has an ambitious, long-term vision of transforming Georgia through education, spreading critical thinking and cultivating a sense of individual responsibility.
Named after Ilia Chavchavadze, a lasting symbol of Georgia’s national revival, the Center aims to promote active citizenship and civic engagement. It is also focused on making the political process more rational and fostering better decision-making, including by helping people recognize fake news and Russian propaganda. The Center is dedicated to promoting Western values and supporting centrist/center-right ideas/agenda in Georgia's policy-making and political discourse.
While working with all segments of the Georgian population, the Center’s primary focus will be on the youth and Georgians who are currently less exposed to the West.
About Ilia Chavchavadze
Ilia Chavchavadze was one of the most revered political figures of 19th century Georgia, and has remained a towering authority in Georgian public life ever since. A prolific writer, publisher, banker, lawyer, educator and an advocate for the rights of the oppressed, he became a symbol of Georgian national revival, based on the spirit of the Enlightenment. Chavchavadze was a champion of the values currently known as liberal, Western values, which remain ever so relevant in modern Georgia. Chavchavadze was assassinated in 1907 by a gang of radicals tied to the secret service of the Russian Empire.
The logo of the Center represents a doodle made by a person in the process of thinking. The logo’s yellow color represents sunlight and symbolizes a bright future ushered in by reason and intelligence.
Center’s Mission and Goals
The Chavchavadze Center aims to contribute to raising public awareness on political, security, economic, social and educational trends as well as potential challenges taking place on local, regional and international levels; promoting Euro-Atlantic principles and values; advocating centrist/center-right ideology, and supporting policies based on those same values. The Center aims to achieve its goals by nurturing a new generation of active citizens and opinion-makers guided by centrist/center-right values and establishing a sustainable platform for effective cooperation; promoting civic responsibility and critical thinking; and supporting capacity building to detect and act against anti-Western propaganda.
The Center aims to foster the development of a rational society, one that is well-informed on the issues of national and international politics and equipped with the skills necessary to influence public opinion and policy-making. Such a society is less likely to become a victim of political manipulation, hostile propaganda and irrational decision-making. The Center will identify and engage motivated, ambitious young people to establish a pool of educated, responsible citizens dedicated to shaping the future of Georgian democracy, the accomplishments of which cannot be undone or reversed. The objective is to create communities across Georgia that have a profound understanding of the responsibilities of active citizens and are empowered to engage in various policy discussions and choices.
Special attention will be paid to engaging young people, who often experience frustration on a social level as well as in educational institutions when faced with the inability to advance their academic development/careers or find employment due to the lack of basic opportunities. The focus on young people is also motivated by the understanding that they have the potential to become the driving force for the establishment of sustainable democratic processes and institutions. The objective is to create a network of ambitions, active, motivated young people and help empower them with the necessary knowledge and skills to become active citizens ready to engage in shaping public opinion and the future of their communities.
The background for establishing the Center
Prior to 2003, Georgia was a failed state, with some of the highest rates of crime and corruption in the world. Extreme poverty and a total lack of political will to change created an overriding sense of despair and hopelessness. Following the Rose Revolution, Georgian society went through a radical transformation, leading to the establishment of a functional state and sustainable democratic institutions based on Euro-Atlantic values.
Though Georgia’s post Rose Revolution transformation has been described as “phenomenal”, the sustainability of the achievements has proven shaky. Some of the brightest manifestations of Georgia’s successes now appear to be fragile and seem to be reversible. The reason may be simple: while the reforms were mainly designed and implemented with a top-down approach, maintaining and advancing democratic institutional accomplishments requires active participation from the populace. The long-term stability of the system depends on empowered, active citizens and the bottom-up approach to political processes.
Georgia’s current political challenges attest to shortcomings in public engagement, which in turn is due to the lack of sufficient information and skills and makes Georgian society vulnerable to fake news and Russian propaganda. The lack of public awareness on various policy issues and policy processes, as well as the absence of the skills necessary to filter and objectively assess information, are creating fertile ground for populism and manipulation and have become a determinant factor in the political process in Georgia. Thus, to maintain and advance Georgia’s post Rose Revolution achievements, it is necessary to strengthen grassroots civic engagement, stress the importance of democratic institutions, and enhance public demand for democratic practices thus contributing to the bottom-up rather than top-down development processes.
The founders of the Chavchavadze Center believe in the importance of active public engagement as part of the strengthening of the institutionalization process that is necessary for Georgia. They decided to apply their knowledge and experience to the process of grassroots empowerment. The team has years of multi-profile expertise in modern state building and a wide network of committed professionals with shared values and principles, all mobilized to contribute to the process of promoting evidence-based policy discussions, rational decision-making and critical thinking among Georgian population. Ultimately, this should lead to the creation of well-informed communities that, in the long run, can influence policy and the political process on local and national levels.
Who we are
The Chavchavadze Center was founded by new generation politicians, former high-ranking diplomats and state officials as well as leading international lawyers with distinguished achievements in their respective fields. In various capacities, the Center’s founders have been among the leaders of the transformation process: they have fought against post-Soviet stereotypes and practices, encouraged introduction of liberal values and practices in state institutions as well as in social and cultural relations. What unites them is primarily a long-term vision of Georgia where each citizen is willing and able to play an active role in shaping the future of his or her community and the country as a whole. Throughout their careers, the founders of the Center have been devoted to promoting the transformation of Georgia though critical thinking and active citizenship. Their joint goal is to turn the newly-established Chavchavadze Center into a useful, value-based educational vehicle designed to cement Georgia’s leap from the post-Soviet past to a modern, meritocratic society.
To achieve the its objectives, the Chavchavadze Center has designed and developed a number of awareness raising and capacity building projects to reach a maximum number of beneficiaries throughout Georgia. In particular:
· Public discussions providing opportunity for raising public awareness on various political and policy issues including: political ideologies, democratic institutions and practices, policy-making process, foreign, security, economic and fiscal policies, media manipulation, Russian/anti-Western propaganda.
· Regular publications (analytical journals, newspapers) contributing to raising public awareness on various policy issues, distributed to the segment of the Georgian population that has limited access to electronic means of media.
· Regular publication of podcasts and video blogs contributing to raising public awareness on various policy issues, targeting the segment of the population with access to online media.
· National and international conferences on various policy issues contributing to creating policy-relevant information, promoting evidence-based decision-making and enhancing cooperation among academics and practitioners.