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Georgia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.8 Social cohesion and cultural policies

The current public opinion polls studying values and social cohesion do not include any culture related information. However, there are many works regarding the problems facing internally displaced persons (IDP). Following the Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008, voluntary assistance and donations by non-governmental and professionals organisations to support IDP's increased to help address their material needs and psychological rehabilitation.

The state assistance to IDPs is minimal, which causes social discontent of both IDPs and other residents. The majority of IDPs (300 000) residing in Georgia are ethnical Georgians who were forced to leave their homes in Abkhazia after the ethnical cleansing executed by separatists. Since integration of IDPs in other regions has been difficult due to unemployment and inflation, the idea of the social integrity is unsteady. However, all groups of the population and, especially, the government are proclaiming the adherence of national interests to the idea of national integrity.

We may only assume (as there are no special researches or debates thereof) that the culture is not used as the instrument for reinforcement of social cohesion. At the same time the concept of national integrity has ever been supported with the national culture and the national culture has been the basic parameter of the national identity.

Recently, the issues of social cohesion are considered by the government in the context of integration of all layers of youth – representatives of national minorities, urban and rural residents. The main participants of the process are governmental structures. For example, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs of Georgia effectively is engaged in the planning of such programmes. The working process is implemented in close cooperation with the youth organisations, international organisations and various public institutions.

The priorities of youth programmes for 2011:

  • promotion of informal and civil education for young people;
  • promotion of participation of youth in civil processes;
  • introduction of state planning, respect for civil and democratic values, promotion of active civil position, volunteerism, civil liability protection, legitimacy, healthy mode of life; and
  • support for youth initiatives and encouragement of cultural and creative initiatives.

The most noteworthy among the youth programmes is the project of the international youth camp "Patriot", the entertainment and educational programme of informal education initiated by the President of Georgia.

Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, the Solidarity Fund and different cultural organisations ("Eastern Promotion, Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theatre") signed the Memorandum, under which the parties backed the creation of the appropriate alternative resources for socially vulnerable people or persons facing crisis who reside in Georgia.

The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia is also involved in various projects supporting vulnerable or disabled people, or people who need other types of assistance. One example is the project "Come to Know Me", implemented in Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery, together with adolescents with Down syndrome, and involving professional artists and top officials in Georgia. The project was implemented by the Union "Our Children", with the partnership of the National Museum of Georgia, the Ministry of Diaspora Issues and the National Centre for Children and Youth. It is aimed at raising awareness of people with Down syndrome and their integration into society.

There are positive examples of international collaboration in the context of socially oriented projects. The project "Discover Eliava" is aimed to reduce the adverse effects on the environment, to draw public attention and to strengthen social cohesion with the help of artists. This idea is implemented by the art organisation "Geoair", together with the Green Art Lab Alliance (GALA) and the "Culture and Management Lab" under an initiative sponsored in the frames of the cultural programme of the European Commission.

Chapter published: 26-01-2016

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