Editor's comment
Multinational or Multiethnic?
18 September, 2014
Do Armenians or Azeris or Russians or any other ethnic group constitute a na­tion within the Georgian nation? ...Multinational was the Soviet Empire, ha­ving annexed and included within its boundaries various nations...
Is Georgia a nation? Yes, it is! At le­ast most of the presumable respondents would answer the question this way! Would it be appropri­ate to describe Georgia as a ‘multinational nation’? How can a nation be multinational? Wouldn’t ‘multiethnic’ be more descriptive for a nation which has a
population, comprising many various ethnicities. For example, do Armenians or Azeris or Russians or any other ethnic group constitute a nation within the Georgian nation? Didn’t we say that Georgia is a nation? Then, why some of us describe Georgia as a multinational nation? Do we need proof? Here you go – there is a functioning NGO in Georgia called ‘mravalerovani saqarTvelo’ – Multinational Georgia. How about USA, France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy? Or any other country, within which there are many ethnicities living and working happily together? Do we mention any of these nations as multinational? Is France a multinational nation? No, it is not! France is a nation within which there are living many various ethnic groups. Is America a multinational nation? I am not sure. America is a nation with so many different cultures and ethic representatives. If this is true, why do people want to call Georgia “multinational”? Multinational was the Soviet Empire, having annexed and included within its boundaries various nations. There, people were identified as soviet citizens with various nationalities. Here in Georgia, we are identified as Georgian citizens – therefore Georgians – with various ethnic origins. All of us are Georgian citizens with different ethnic backgrounds! The name of this country is Georgia. Hence any citizen of it would be Georgian exactly as any citizen of America would be American because the name of the country is America, any citizen of France would be French, any citizen of Germany would be German, etc. We simply have to get used to this, nothing else. This is just the matter of getting used to what is right and legal. This kind of usage needs to be legitimized and perpetuated. That’s all! As long as Georgia is a sovereign country, its citizens are Georgians. Thus the word ‘Georgian’ should imply several things: Georgian – citizen of Georgia, Georgian – ethnicity, and Georgian – ethnicity. Why is this so strange and difficult to accept? In case we want to discern between the ethnicities, we can use the description like ethnic Georgian, ethnic Armenian, ethnic Azeri, ethnic Russian, and so on, but all of them are Georgians as long as they carry the Georgian citizenship. Why should we be different from any other country of the world in this respect? Thus, if you are a Georgian citizen and you are asked a question about your nationality the answer must be Georgian but if you want to emphasize your ethnic background, then the answer will have to be “ethnic Armenian, Azeri, Russian, etc.” Why is this so inconvenient? Why is this so embarrassing to say? Any Georgian citizen is Georgian, and any Georgian may have his or her ethnic origin as persons of other ethnicities. What’s wrong with this? To conclude, the statement that Georgia is a ‘multinational nation’ is technically wrong, which has to be substituted with the term “multiethnic nation”. Again, one nation is one nation as a particular national unity. In other words, the word “nation” must be identified with the name of the country within which there are living people of many different ethnic origins. Isn’t this elementary? So let us change the name of that good NGO from ‘Multinational Georgia’ into ‘Multiethnic Georgia’ – ‘mravalerovani saqar­Tvelo’ into ‘mravaleTnikuri saqarTvelo’. Incidentally, somebody might argue that this may create certain inconvenience for those who are not ethnic Georgians. The Georgian word KARTVELI – qarTveli clearly means “Ethnic Georgian”, not the citizen of Georgia and it might be difficult to change this. Why can’t we be a little more inventive and coin a new Georgian word – SAKARTVELOELI (saqarTveloeli) – derived from the name of Georgia – SAKARTVELO with the purpose of identifying every Georgian citizen by the new demonym? The most famous and widely used exact analogy might be more than handy here: AMERIKA (amerika) – AMERIKELI (amerikeli) (America – American). Let us go to Russian now: GRUZIA means Georgia, GRUZINSKI means Georgian, and we can introduce a new demonym GRUZIANIN, GRRUZIANKA – a person from Georgia, male or female respectively. How about that? Can anybody tell me why this is not possible? Years will pass, generations will come and go and the word SAKARTVELOELI – Georgian – saqarTveloeli will persist in the language, and most importantly, will play its historical role of finally uniting this multiethnic nation into one national unity – strong, friendly and operative, based on diversity and unity at the same time. At first glance, this ideologically and linguistically corroborated determinative suggestion might sound strange, but at a second thought, it might get under our skin very deeply. Just think about it! One little naïve word has a huge chance of changing attitudes and uniting the nation. Just imagine that we the Georgians, Armenians, Azeris, Russians, Kurds, Ukrainians, Jews, Abkhaz, Ossetians and many others can call ourselves SAKARTVELOELI – Georgians – as the sons and daughters of one country and the children of one united nation, happily maintaining and using our own language and ethnicity if and when we need to. The issue is definitely worth attention and discussing. We all hate to be at daggers drawn. We all want to be friendly and cooperative, working together on creating the necessary prerequisites of a better life and guaranteed security for ourselves and our posterity. We are all against destructive confrontations. None of us want to be a victim of public malcontent, so lavishly poured on our tired heads by angry bigots and hate-mongers. We are all diverse and individual in our natural ethnicity but we are all SAKARTVELOELI – Georgians, the citizens of one nation under God, carriers of many ethnic tongues but speakers of one national language for better communication and stronger cooperation, and living and working under the same national flag. Who would not agree that a sense of belonging to and comprising one good nation on the strong basis of historical multitude of ethnicity is more beneficial than anything opposed to this?