Cherishing Georgian Multiculturalism As Country’s Main Asset
15 March, 2012
Cherishing Georgian Multiculturalism As Country’s Main Asset

Interview with the Ambassador of Armenia to Georgia

Mr. Hovhannes Manoukian the ambassador who represents our sister country of South Caucasus. Let’s meet him and find out what he thinks about our national peculiarities; what he ascribes to the Caucasian phenomenon; what he likes and dislikes in Georgian political culture, etc… 

 

G.J: When did you arrive to Georgia?

H. M: The decree of my appointment was signed by the President of Armenia on February 26, 2011. I arrived in Tbilisi on April 11

and assumed my duties.

G.J: What were your first impressions of Georgia?

H.M: My first impressions of Georgia have developed long before I arrived here as an Ambassador. The fact is that my mother was born and raised in Tbilisi. I have been frequently visiting Georgia in my childhood, although I can hardly remember my first impressions now, but one thing is obvious to me, I have a lot of kind memories from my early childhood related with unforgettable times spent in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi.

G.J: What can you say about this country in general as a person, not as a diplomat?

H.M: Probably one of the most striking phenomena for any foreigner arriving in Georgia is the multiculturalism of its society, which is certainly the greatest asset any country can have. And Georgia, in this regard, is a special phenomenon.

Additionally, Georgia has unique scenic beauty and rich nature, particularly its capital Tbilisi stands out in this regard. It offers its residents and tourists a unique experience by combining modern architecture such as the Peace Bridge, with historic sites such as Narikala.

G.J: What can you say about Georgian cuisine? Please, compare it to the cuisines of other  countries you have visited as a tourist or as a diplomat or even to your homeland.

H.M: I am fond of cooking myself and consider myself to be a good cook, which is why I can firmly say that most Georgian dishes can satisfy the most dainty taste.

I am pretty familiar with the cuisine of many countries, as I love to travel. However, Georgian cuisine is unique among the cuisines of other countries, which I have come across. Georgian national cuisine can cater to the needs of even the pickiest of eaters because it is rather diverse. Some dishes focus heavily on poultry and others are more or less vegetarian dishes. Moreover, some dishes are rich of spices and others are milder in taste. Hence, I would like to say that by the wealth of dishes and their identity Georgian cuisine probably deserves to be among the world’s top 10 most delicious cuisines.

G.J: What is your favorite sphere of Georgian culture?

H.M: Perhaps the most prominent aspect of Georgian culture is its achievements in various fields of art; particularly, in the cinema and national dance. Georgian folk dances are globally recognized as being captivating and keeping audiences at the edge of their seat as the dancers perform dances with daggers and the female dancers show more reserved and serene performance.

As for Georgian cinema, I am one of the numerous admirers of its charm, romanticism, brilliant humor and self-irony.

G.J: Who is your favorite Georgian artist/writer?

H.M: I admire Niko Pirosmani’s talent. It is hard for me to grasp the atmosphere of Old Tiflis of the end of XIX, beginning of XX century, but the impression I get from his paintings takes my breath away. It seems that I completely understand the mentality and the way of life through the citizens living in Old Tiflis during those times.

I must also mention Shota Rustaveli, whose immortal aphorisms are filled with centuries-old wisdom. His statement “Everyone deems himself a strategist, while watching the battle from far away” still motivates me to gain deep insight into different issues of politics, society, and most importantly, humanity.

G.J: How does your day schedule look like? Is it very busy? Please, describe one ordinary day….

H.M: A typical working day for me looks like this: I get up at 7:30 am. At 9:00 I am already at  my office. But my working day does not always end at 18:00, because most of the receptions or other official events, which I normally attend, may extend further than the planned time. Therefore, end of my working day depends on different events.

Despite my busy schedule, I manage to find time for going to the gym and swimming pool to keep fit, both mentally and physically.

Mostly, weekend evenings are devoted to my friends and family, and particularly my 3-year-old son Alexander.

G.J: How different are your weekends from your weekdays?

H.M: My favorite way of spending the weekends is going for the trips to nature or to resorts with my friends. Alternatively, I can be happy by resting at home with my family, enjoying the evening with the delicious supper prepared by me.

G.J: What is your favorite pastime in Georgia?

H.M: It gives me a great pleasure to travel around Georgia. This is the best way to get to know the country and its people. I had already visited Kakheti, Ajara and of course, Samtskhe-Javakheti. Georgia is a real paradise for tourists and I believe, Georgian authorities are using this advantage very efficiently.

G.J: Let’s touch upon Georgian political culture. What are its main vices and how would your recommendations sound?

H.M: Well, I must admit that Georgia has rather high political culture. Above all, I appreciate the diversity of viewpoints on different political and social issues. I believe, it is an achievement for the Caucasian peoples and states, because they historically and psychologically are inclined to paternalistic models of political organization of their societies.

As for the disadvantages, I would like to mark the lack of ability of perception through opposing viewpoints, regardless of which arguments they were based on. All these can be explained by the Caucasian temperament, but cannot be justified by it.

What can one recommend in this regard? Perhaps this is not the case when you should look for original ideas. My advice will be simple: it should be explained to the community how important it is, in terms of building a successful state, to be able to listen to your opponent and reach consensus through compromise.

I think that such training should cover all layers of society, regardless of age, social status or other differences which divide us.

On a side note, every vice mentioned can also be applied to the Armenian community, perhaps it is a Caucasian vice.

G.J: What is your opinion about Georgian media? What are its week points?

H.M: I believe that Georgian mass media deserves to be called democratic, although, in relation to mass media, I could also repeat my answer to the previous question about political culture. However, in general, Georgian media deserves my respect and attracts my genuine interest thanks to their publications, except for some obvious tabloids, which I certainly will not name.

Recently, my attention certainly was riveted to the report of President Mikhail Saakashvili to the Parliament. And I should note that my interest towards this particular issue is not only professional, as I am personally very much interested in political ideas of your outstanding President and his assessment of performed job.

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