Prof. George Hewitt

Georgia: Contemporary Life & Politics

Talk for Oxford Seminar 20 May 1995

I have the honour (or perhaps the word is misfortune!) to begin the day's examination of an exquisite region on Europe's fringes, but this examination, when we reflect on it at 5 pm today, is sadly likely to remain in the memory as, in the main, little more than a catalogue of disasters and tragedy. As for my own particular share of the day's subject, one could sum it up quite laconically by saying: 'Contemporary life and politics in Georgia -- rotten on both counts'. And yet, if we had held this seminar as recently as early 1988, our mood would surely have been one of great optimism, for Gorbacev had come to power in  1985, and his 2-pronged experiment of perestrojka 'transformation' and glasnot' "openness" was in full swing and promising so much. What went wrong?

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