This is an article from our exchange „Energizing Bridges“ which dealt with climate and energy issues and was a cooperation project of the Serbian Young Greens, the Georgian Young Greens, the Central Development Network Eastern Europe and Grüne Jugend. The exchange happened in May 2015.
SPUNK: Hello Eka! Please tell us something about yourself and your organization.
Eka: Hello, I’m a member of Georgian Young Greens, a youth Non-governmental organization based in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. The organization was founded in 2008 by young activists who wanted to make green agenda and have some influence on society and politics in general. Since then, the organization has developed in terms of structure, theoretical background, number of members etc and became more visible.
The main aim of the organization is to increase the voices of the youth, develop green political agenda, to involve more people in the struggle of social and ecological justice and equality.
We use several methods to change the situation where we live. Basically, we use non-formal ones to create autonomous spaces for people where we can critically analyze some issues and problems. Self-development and in-group peer educational methods are also very important to us. We strive to have horizontal organization and to become a organizational model of direct democracy. The organization also has a website where all our news and reports are posted. This website is also open for people not involved in Young Greens (www.younggreens.ge).
SPUNK: Can you tell us something about the structure of GeYG?
Eka: The organization’s main decision-making body is the General Assembly which is heldLogo der Georgian Young Greensonce in a year to elect the new executive committe, change the political documents etc. Our structure is horizontal and we try our best to make decisions by consensus. Every year, the General Assembly elects a new board, who then chooses the office. Now, we have a board with eight members and an office with two members. We also implemented working groups and are now developing the conceptual part of it.
SPUNK: And how is the political situation in Georgia?
Eka: The political situation in Georgia is really messed up, that means there is no sight of any political will to change the situation and make it socialy and environmentaly just. Since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia faced really big challenges and also moments of hope that the country’s politics will consider social interests.
In 1900s, there was a static period where nothing happened, no electricity and basic needs were satified. Then, during the Rose Revolution period, some hope was risen that the situation will change, from static to more dynamic. When it happened it was not as many people wished. Rose Revolution and Saakashvili’s presidendcy dealt with problems not from the deep roots but all the changes were superficial. Government’s neo-liberal politics caused that the country’s main interest became business. This so-called ,,economical growth‘‘ was the reason to abolish labour inspection, ecological regulations and to start a privatization boom in the country. The result was that the gap between the poor and the rich became more visable, deaths from working conditions increased and urban development became a total disaster. Nowadays, we have a government which exists in a form of a coalition, consolidating the extreme right, centre and left parties (including Social-democrats and the Greens). But there is no sustainable plan for the future. People’s interests are still way inferior to business interests.
Although it must be said that civil society became more involved in the participatory process, the question remains whether they have real influence on politics.
SPUNK: Okay, can you name some main problems at the moment?
Eka: There are so many problems to name but I will try to mention the most important ones from GeYG’s perspective. First, this privatization of public objects causes expensive education (when average income is like 700-800 GEL in Georgia and one semester in State University 1125 GEL), Constructing big Hydro-Plants without valid research, no labour inspection, no environmental policies, unemployment, LGBTIQ and minorities rights, women rights etc. No decision is transparent and most of the time people just face the decisions made by government post-factum.
SPUNK: What is your strategy as GeYG to deal with these problems?
Eka: We really try to act on grassroot level by now. To mobilize youth and make our demands political. First, we really feel the responsibility to act as green activists in a country where politics = populist. First we try to work on self-development, capacity building, then spread our strategies and ideology to other people and make self-actualization our main objective. It is easier to act when you know what you are fighting against, so we are spreading the messages which we think are the most relevant ones. We have a lot of non-formal activities, our autonomous non-academic space – ,,smash the academy‘‘, also we have lots of street campaigns. To reach people is one thing but with the system where every institution works to maintain status quo, sometimes our messages seem too radical.
SPUNK: Thanks a lot for the interview, Eka!
This exchange was funded by Erasmus+.