NATIONAL MINORITIES IN GEORGIA: PROBLEMS OF DEFINITION AND LEGAL STATUS

Guram SVANIDZE


Guram Svanidze, Ph.D. (Philos.), coworker at the Committee of Civilian Integration, Parliament of Georgia (Tbilisi, Georgia)


Georgia has long failed to give its due attention to the problem of national minorities. The academic and legislative aspects of the problem are underdeveloped because of the inadequate conceptual system and lack of definition of the term national minority. This topic has always been considered perilous in the political sense and is known to arouse unhealthy restlessness in society.

The official structures justified the delay in ratification of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, among other things, by the lack of consensus on definition. The Georgian Parliaments resolution on ratification of the above-mentioned Framework Convention (13 September, 2005, No.1938-II s) was the first attempt to introduce clarity into this issue at the official level. The document gives a definition of minority, but experts expressed their dissatisfaction with the formulation proposed. This criticism boiled down to the fact that the definition was much too narrow: it applied only to compactly residing minorities. The emphasis was essentially placed on Azeris and Armenians densely residing in Lower Kartli and Javakhetia. In addition to everything else, the resolution does not take into account the parameters of compact residence. So it was declared that the definition was preliminary and would undergo further polishing.

The delicacy of the topic can partially be explained by the fact that our society has long been in the grips of so-called ethnonational thinking. Today we are going to have to get rid of


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