ENIGMMA: In recent years, Georgia has made a significant progress in regulation and management of migration processes. What is the role of the Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues in this area?
Mr Gela Dumbadze: The Office of the State Minister for Diaspora Issues is a member of the State Commission on Migration Issues. The implemented activities for better management of migration processes are the result of mutual efforts and cooperation of the member state institutions of the Commission. This is important especially now, when the better management of migration and implementation of international standards will bring us closer to our people’s inspiration – to the European Integration.
ENIGMMA: One of the most important tasks of the Office is to establish, develop and maintain ties with the Georgian Diasporas abroad. How do you prioritise your work in this regard? Are these priorities based on the size of diaspora in the respective country, level of its engagement, vulnerability of Georgian migrants in one or another destination country, or something else?
Mr Gela Dumbadze: As you might know, Georgian Diasporas are represented in many countries of the world. According to the informal data, the number of Georgians living abroad exceeds 1.5 million. One of the priorities of Georgia is to ensure intellectual, economic or human resource engagement of Georgian Diaspora into the state building of our country. There are two types of Georgian Diaspora: historical and modern. Historical diaspora is established through centuries as a result of different processes, while the modern one is created after Georgia gained independence (1991 year). Considering the different preconditions and processes of creation of a diaspora, the State should develop differentiated approach: on one side, there are main priorities that are common for all countries and social groups, and on the other hand, there are set of activities that should be tailored to the specific needs of concrete diaspora organisations. Accordingly, the Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues sets priorities in line with size of diaspora, their engagement, vulnerability, etc.
ENIGMMA: What were the most recent remarkable activity or initiative implemented by the Georgian Diaspora abroad or in Georgia?
Mr Gela Dumbadze: I would like to emphasize solidarity of Georgians living abroad towards their compatriots in terms of the recent catastrophe. Georgian Diaspora showed generous support after the flood: every single day our office is receiving numerous calls from abroad offering different kind of support. Special service points were opened in many countries where Georgians bring different useful items to be sent to Georgia. In addition to this, many Georgians perform charity concerts, auctions and send money to Georgian to support flood victims.
ENIGMMA: Each year, on 27 May Georgia celebrates Diaspora Day. Why, to your point of view, it is important to celebrate this day and what has been organised this year to mark this occasion?
Mr Gela Dumbadze: by celebrating Georgian Diaspora Day, the state reminds its compatriots abroad that we remember them and we care about them. This year, within the framework of Diaspora Week 27-29 May different activities took place on this occasion. First of all, the first Professional Diaspora Forum was organized with a concrete motto for compatriots living abroad: “share your experience with your homeland”. The forum aimed at strengthening establishment of partnership links between diaspora and homeland. The forum brought together heads of different diaspora organisations from abroad, representatives of Georgian Diaspora of different professions, clergy, academia, Georgian Government and NGOs.
The forum was welcomed by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Ms Irakli Garibashvili. The Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia and the spiritual leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II blessed Georgian compatriots and wished them return to their homeland in near future.
The forum participants were also addressed by the dean of Tbilisi State University, Mr. Vladimer Papava, Vice Premier, the Minister of Economic and Sustainable Development, Mr. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Tamar Beruchashvili, the Ambassador of the US to Georgia, Mr. Richard Norland, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Mr. Boris Iarochevich, the Regional Director of the World Bank for the South Caucasus, Mr. Henry Kerali, the Director of the Capital Bank, Mr. Lasha Khoperia, the ICMPD project manager, Ms Violeta Wagner, a representative of IdEA, Ms Sara Gallagher. At the forum, the MoU between the Tbilisi State University, World Bank and IdEA was signed.
In the framework of the Diaspora Days other activities took place, such as – exhibition of the paintings of Georgian diaspora, concert of classical music, award ceremony of contestants in literature and student competitions, tour to introduce innovations in homeland. The week of celebration in the framework of Georgian Diaspora Days was a clear indicator engaging Georgian diaspora in home country’s development is a top priority for the Government of Georgia.
In order to engage diaspora, the Office is working on different innovative projects such as an activity related to diaspora investments, publication on strengthening diaspora investment models and a publication presented at a forum on May 27: “Government and the Diaspora: international practice”. The publication describes the experiences of different governments on cooperation strategies with their Diasporas around the world.
ENIGMMA: Cooperation of the Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues and ICMPD count already many years; in which area in particular do you consider cooperation with ICMPD/ENIGMMA most efficient?
Mr Gela Dumbadze: Together with ICMPD representatives as one team we analysed cooperation perspectives and envisioned future plans. It should be mentioned that, State Minister’s Office appreciates sincere interest, effort and willingness of each team member of ICMPD team to facilitate state in order to develop international standards in migration management. We expressed our highly grateful attitude on 27 May, when we awarded project manager of ICMPD Ms Violeta Wagner with honorary medal from Office of State Minister.
On this stage work on joint program – online school is in progress. This is a project which will enable our compatriots learn Georgian language and literature, history and geography online, with direct life streams. Currently, we are starting a new program together with ICMPD aimed at facilitating high profile diaspora engagement into Georgia’s life. We have lot of interesting and important plans. Successful cooperation experience in the past is bases for our hopes for success in the future.