Concessions Are Part of Democratic Process
02 February, 2012
Concessions Are Part of Democratic Process

Jonas Paslauskas is from Lithuania – one of the few countries which has a lady President. Coming straight  from New York, he found a drastic change here but he has not regretted it. Let’s meet him and  learn his views and  find out his way of living in Tbilisi. 

G.J: When did you arrive to our country?
J.P: I arrived in Georgia in May 2010, directly from New York. I worked on the position of a Consul General there. When

I got the current position, I thought I would be remembering New York every day, but when I came to Georgia, I saw a very dynamic, very interesting country. It turned out that I did not miss the New York life. The diplomat’s work in Georgia is very busy and interesting, marked by different shades and enriched by various aspects. The work here is not boring at all; on the contrary – life in Georgia is always dynamic. 
G.J: What was the strongest impression that you received in Georgia?
J.P: I was impressed most of all by the positive attitude of Georgian nation. We, Lithuanians, sometimes have even smaller problems, or maybe no problems at all, but we happen to be too critical about things, whereas Georgians are always full of life. Georgians have very welcoming spirit; therefore, I feel comfortable working here.
G.J: How does your everyday schedule look like? 
J.P: Each day is different, but there is some routine. Usually, my day starts at the Embassy, where I meet my colleagues and discuss various activities and events; I also do paper work. Then at noon, I meet with other colleague diplomats, representatives of the Government of Georgia, NGOs, media, etc. Sometimes, the day ends with a diplomatic reception or dinner hosted by other ambassadors. Of course, I also organize many events at our residence. Having in mind that one of the main priorities of the Government of Lithuania is the support for regional development, I travel a lot in your country. If I have some spare time left, I go to the swimming pool.
G.J: How do you spend your weekends?
J.P: If I am not traveling, you can see me with my wife circling around Kustba, (Turtle Lake) or walking around the old town. If we have time, we stay in our residence and enjoy the game of pool.  On the other hand, we have a lot of visitors coming from Lithuania, United States and other countries. Usually, we take them to Jvari, Uplistsikhe, Svetitskhoveli, Signagi, etc. So, if the weather is good, we are always somewhere outside.
G.J: What can you say about the Georgian cooking?
J.P: Georgian cuisine is a unique phenomenon. I remember a saying: ‘Many people die without having tried in their life French champagne or caviar.’ Now I like to add that many people die without having tried Georgian Khinkali, Khachapuri, Saperavi or Tsinandali. I will be one of those happy ones who have had an opportunity to have tasted Georgian cuisine. And it’s not only the food that is important. It’s the Georgian table culture in general – your meaningful toasts, traditional singing and dancing. Georgians can sit at table 4-5 hours and there will be no drunken people around. Many nations can learn from your experience. Let’s not forget that Georgia gave two words to the world: wine (from ghvino) and medicine (from Medea). There is only one problem with your cuisine - it makes your clothes get smaller and smaller (laughs).
G.J: What about the Georgian culture? 
J.P: The most interesting thing is that Lithuanians know much more about Georgia than about their closest neighbors. For example, if you ask an ordinary person in the street about famous Georgians, many of them would remember famous movie directors such as Danelia, Ioseliani, Abuladze, Chiaureli. This is somewhat amazing. Speaking about my personal likes, I enjoy exploring Tbilisi. I like sculptures, Georgian polyphonic singings and traditional dances. They are wonderful. Accordingly, it is not surprising that one can see Georgian artistes on the prestigious stages throughout the world. In Lithuania two years ago, we had a big exhibition of Pirosmani’s works, which attracted a huge interest and it had to be prolonged. I also admire traditional Tbilisi songs. As for the writers, unfortunately I cannot read them in the original but recently my wife found a book of short stories translated into English – it comprises works of Ilia Chavchavadze, Nodar Dumbadze, Giorgi Leonidze, Mikheil Javakhishvili and that is what I am reading now.
G.J: Lithuania is one of the very few countries with a lady President. It would be very interesting to hear your opinion about Georgian political culture.
J.P: Not only the President is a lady, but we also have a lady Speaker of the Parliament (Seimas), Minister of National Defense, Minister of Finances and many others.
G.J: What is the reason of it?
J.P: It simply has become a natural part of our political culture. We accepted those values and are not dividing society by gender. Speaking about Georgia’s political culture, it would be unacceptable for me as a diplomat to publicly give recommendations here. I can share my personal impressions. In my opinion, Georgia has clear democratic goals – European and Euro-Atlantic integration. I believe that Georgia is on a right track and will go further with needed reforms. I am sure that you will overcome the difficulties that are on the agenda. I believe that Georgia will remain a reliable and active member of the international community, and will manage to increase the circle of its friends. We all understand that sometimes implementation of goals depends on various political factors and right moment, so strategic patience will be important in this regard. All in all, I remain a strong believer in your country’s success in the near future.
G.J: What do you think about our media?
J.P: Well, it is obvious that Georgians are TV viewers. We have seen in different polls that around 90% of the population gets the news from TV. Of course, printed press is important and it’s good that some of it is available in foreign languages. I read your Georgian Journal every time and it’s an important source of my information. Speaking about the media in general, I would say that the Georgian media does not differ from the media in other parts of the world. I would like to remind you that when there are some public discussions let’s say about the media laws or similar issues, one cannot expect one of the discussing parties to be a total winner. In the democratic society, concessions and a search for consensus is a part of the democratic process.
G.J: What do you think about Georgian prisons and courts of justice?
J.P: We see a lot of efforts to improve the system and the legislation. Though there are many problems – overcrowded prisons, lack of adequate healthcare, etc. But there are some notable achievements; for example, in the field of juvenile justice. According to the Georgian Crime Survey 2011, from the high crime country Georgia has managed to become a low crime country.

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