И ГЕНЕАЛОШКЕ СТУДИЈЕ
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GEORGIAN PATRIARCH CALLS
FOR RESTORATION OF MONARCHY
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GEORGIAN CHURCH CALLS
FOR CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY
Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, said on October 7 it was time to start consideration of establishment of constitutional monarchy.
He said the monarchy of ancient Georgian royal dynasty of Bagrationi was terminated in 1801 when Georgia was annexed by the Russian empire and “since then it was a dream of the Georgian people to have this dynasty restored.”
“I am saying this because today conditions are created which may help to make this dream of the Georgian people come true,” Illia II said in his Sunday preaching in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi.
The announcement comes amid political confrontation between the authorities and opposition parties. A group of ten opposition parties have launched a campaign calling for abolishment of presidency and creation of parliamentary system of government.
“Discussions are currently underway what type of Georgia we should have,” Illia II said. “Very often other states dictate us what to do. Some tell us it should be presidency and some say it should be a parliamentary [republic]. This is not up to others to decide. This is up to Georgian people and people living in Georgia to decide.”
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OUTSIDER OPPOSITION SUPPORTS
CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY IN GEORGIA
Outsider opposition parties support the initiative forwarded by Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II, on restoration of monarchy in the country.
According to Shalva Natelashvili, leader of Laborist Party, restoration of king's rule would give Georgia the historical and national passport.
Koka Gamsakhurdia, leader of political movement Freedom, says that king does not necessarily mean 'dictator ruler' and he would be a guarantee of integrity of the country.
Majority of the opposition parties support introduction of constitutional monarchy in Georgia.
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POLITICIANS COMMENT ON
CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY PROPOSAL
“We, most opposition parties, believe that we should have a parliamentary form of government and its perfect form is a constitutional monarchy,” MP Zviad Dzidziguri of the Conservative Party said on October 8.
“I always supported a constitutional monarchy, as an appropriate form of government for Georgia,” Salome Zourabichvili, the leader of Georgia’s Way, told reporters.
Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili said on October 8 that his party also supports the proposal.
Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, the leader of the opposition Freedom Party, said the proposal was “extremely positive.”
The New Rights Party, in a statement issued on October 8, said that Georgia should be a constitutional monarchy.
A lawmaker from the ruling party, Vakhtang Balavadze, said the issue should only be considered after the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity.
In his Sunday sermon, Illia II, said that “today conditions exist which may help to make this dream of the Georgian people come true” – referring to the restoration of the Georgian royal dynasty of Bagrationi. He, however, also said it may take years.
His comments come amid political confrontation between the authorities and opposition parties. A group of ten opposition parties has launched a campaign calling for the abolition of the presidency and the creation of a parliamentary system of government.
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GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT TO SET
DATE FOR MONARCHY DEBATE
TBILISI, October 9 (RIA Novosti) - The speaker of the Georgian Parliament is set to begin on Tuesday consultations on the restoration of the country's monarchy.
During the consultations, Nino Burdzhanadze will define the date for holding a debate on developing the country's political system, including the transition to a constitutional monarchy.
The idea to restore constitutional monarchy in the country was voiced by Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II during his Sunday service at the Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral in Tbilisi.
He said the ancient Georgian royal dynasty of Bagrationi was dethroned in 1801, when Georgia joined the Russian empire, and it has been the dream of the Georgian people to restore the dynasty ever since.
"Discussions are currently underway on what type of Georgia we should have," Radio Imedi quotes Ilia II as saying. "It is not up to others to decide. It is up to the Georgian people and people living in Georgia to decide," the patriarch added.
The majority of opposition parties support the initiative, saying that introducing a monarchy is the only option for Georgia.
Koka Gamsakhurdia, leader of Freedom, an opposition movement, explained that monarchy does not necessarily imply dictatorship, and that a king [or queen] would guarantee the country's integrity.
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TIME FOR A KING FOR GEORGIA?
Amid ongoing controversy about the Georgian government democratization methods, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church has proposed the idea of establishing a constitutional monarchy as a guarantee of stability.
In a televised October 7 sermon, Patriarch Ilia II argued that a monarch would best protect the interests of citizens of Georgia. Citing Spain as an example, the patriarch said that the constitutional monarchies of the West act as safeguards of stability and national unity. "The king will reign, not rule," he said.
The patriarch’s proposal was quickly embraced by many of Georgia’s main opposition parties, as well as by media magnate Badri Patarkatsishvili, who has announced potential political plans of his own. The proposal neatly dovetailed with the opposition’s new slogan "Georgia without a President," a takeoff on President Mikheil Saakashvili’s Rose Revolution motto "Georgia without Shevardnadze." The slogan is intended as a call for a parliamentary system of government.
"Speaking for most opposition parties, I believe … a constitutional monarchy is the perfect form of government," Zviad Dzidziguri, one of the leaders of the Conservative Party, told reporters the day of Ilia II’s statement.
A parliamentary debate on the topic, proposed by the opposition New Rights Party, has been scheduled for October 25. The New Rights Party has not joined an opposition coalition formed around former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, who recently announced the formation of his own opposition party, Movement for a United Georgia, to Saakashvili.
Since being released on bail from prison on October 9, however, Okruashvili has stayed out of public view. At an October 11 press briefing, United Georgia member Koka Guntsadze told reporters that Okruashvili would be leaving politics. "I would like to tell you that his moral condition is rather grave. The state of his health is also unfavorable. He finds it hard to speak about details," Guntsadze said, after a two-hour conversation with Okruashvili.
"Considering the current state of affairs and all the nuances, Irakli Okruashvili will leave politics for the time being, Guntsadze continued. "We, his friends and partners, would like to state that we understand his moral condition …. and have no complaints whatsoever against him."
Meanwhile, the idea of a constitutional monarchy has become the latest political buzz topic. In a memorandum, the New Rights Party argues that a monarch would be "above political and economic ideologies and debates" and act as a "neutral arbiter and the defender of the country[‘s] unity and independence." By holding the right to dismiss a prime minister with authoritarian tendencies -- a trait the opposition claims increasingly characterizes President Saakashvili -- a monarch would help preserve democracy, the memo holds.
One local political analyst, however, argues that the sudden support for a constitutional monarchy has less to do with actual political beliefs and more to do with the fight for political clout that has followed Okruashvili’s accusations, arrest and subsequent recantation.
"Had the idea come from a political party, it wouldn’t have become so popular. But the Church has a lot of authority, and politicians are trying to make a point that their values are akin to those of the church," said Ramaz Sakvarelidze, an independent political analyst.
Meanwhile, the governing Nationalist Movement Party has tried to soft-pedal Ilia II’s statement. "The patriarch didn’t suggest establishing monarchy today. He meant this may happen after Georgia resolves its fundamental problems," pro-administration MP Giga Bokeria told reporters on October 8.
Ilia II has avoided further comment on the topic.
Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze has expressed skepticism about the idea, pointing out in an October 11 interview with the pro-opposition daily Rezonansi that a constitutional monarchy would "perhaps create even more problems" for Georgia.
Reviving Georgia’s monarchy was first broached during the last years of the Soviet Union. The proposal was shelved after nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected president in 1991.
Who would even assume the role of monarch, though, is a matter for additional debate. In his sermon, the patriarch called for restoring the ancient Bagrationi dynasty to the throne, although some Georgians have interpreted the statement as simply an appeal to restrict the president’s powers.
While ordinary Georgians have a soft spot in their hearts for the Bagrationi family, which produced many prominent scientists and military commanders, picking a candidate monarch would not be an easy task. The ascendancy of the dynasty dates to the 10th century and is roughly divided between descendants of the eastern realm of Kartli-Kakheti ruled by Giorgi XII until 1801 when the Russian Empire annexed Georgia and abolished its monarchy, and a western realm (Imereti) ruled by Solomon II until 1810.
Historian Raul Chagunava, a longtime researcher of the Bagrationi family, believes that the crown by right belongs to Nugzar Bagrationi-Gruzinski, the director of Tbilisi’s Tumanshivili Theater and a patrilineal descendant of Giorgi XII. Nino Bagrationi, the 90-year-old direct descendant of Solomon II told EurasiaNet that she recognizes the claim of Nugzar Bagrationi-Gruzinski. Meanwhile, Georgia’s monarchist party, Royal Crown, favors another ancillary branch.
But feelings among those Bagrationis still in Georgia are decidedly mixed about the patriarch’s proposal.
Setting up a constitutional monarchy would not solve Georgia’s political woes, noted Giorgi Bagrationi-Jafaridze, a laboratory head, and the son of Nino Bagrationi. The sovereign, he argued, could become a mere puppet in the hands of politicians. "While absolute monarchy is out of the question, the king has to hold control over strategic matters," he commented.
When asked about the restoration of Georgia’s monarchy. Nino Bagrationi, a professor of engineering whose features are reminiscent of those of her royal ancestors, smiles calmly and shakes her head
"The time is not ripe for this," Bagrationi said. "The country has to grow and develop. Later… perhaps."
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GEORGIA CONSIDERS A RETURN TO MONARCHY
The Georgian Parliament is to discuss the possibility of restoring the monarchy in the country. The idea was floated by the Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church and has been warmly greeted by opposition parties.
With no end in sight to Georgia's political turmoil, the country's top religious religious leader has proposed a radical solution - bringing back the country's royal family.
Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, says putting the Bagrationi family back on the throne could end the nation's political woes.
“This is not a matter to be decided by others. It is we who should decide this. The Georgian people and the people living in Georgia have to decide this. You know that the rule of the Bagrationi Dynasty was terminated in 1801, and since then Georgian people have nurtured a dream to restore the ancient, divinely blessed dynasty,” he said.
The Bagrationi Dynasty is the longest serving royal house in Europe. They ruled Georgia in one form or another for over a thousand years, until Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire and the monarchy was abolished.
Today, the main branches of the family live in Spain and Italy, but they remain popular in Georgia. And after the Patriarch’s statement, they could be coming home at last.
The idea has been greeted with jubiliation by the Georgian opposition - newly united following the arrest last month of former Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili on corruption charges.
That was just two days after making a series of scandalous allegations against President Mikhail Saakashvili.
Earlier this week, the former minister was released on $US 6 million bail after repudiating his allegations against the President.
The opposition say they will nonetheless continue their protests against the Government, and one of their main demands is a reduction in the powers of the President. For the opposition, the Patriarch’s statement seems like a blessing.
"I'm for a parliamentary republic. I'm also for the possibility of restoring the constitutional monarchy here. A constitutional monarchy is also a kind of a parliamentary republic and this was the principle idea of our Patriarch,” says Freedom Party leader Koka Gamsakhurdia.
The Patriarch’s is thinking long-term. His idea is to groom someone from the Bagrationi clan from childhood.
This means the opposition are unlikely to get their king or queen any time soon. For its part, the Government isn’t ruling out the idea for the future.
Mikhail Machavariani Deputy Speaker of the Georgian parliament thinks, “At this stage it is not possible for Georgia to become a constitutional monarchy”. “If we, Georgians, make this decision, a monarch must be raised from childhood,” he added.
Ordinary Georgians also seem prepared to at least consider restoring the monarchy after more than 200 years.
“The idea of having a constitutional monarchy is of course lovely, but I’m afraid it’s absolutely unrealistic,” one of the citizens says.
Another local believes, “The restoration of the monarchy will happen in the future, it will be the best path to follow for the next generation.”
The Patriarch’s idea is an appeal to Georgians' sense of history and unity at a time when the county is gripped by a political crisis.
And because Georgians respect the Patriarch, the idea is likely to be taken seriously.
The idea of bringing back Georgia's royal family will get its first test in parliament shortly, when MPs discuss the proposal.
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