Will Georgia become a monarchy?
Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza
Recently an event took place in the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in the ancient capital of Georgia, Mtskheta, which could have serious political consequences for the country: the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilya II, baptized Georgi Bagrationi, the baby son of David Bagration Mukhransky and Anna Bagration Georgian.
The dynastic marriage between the representatives of two branches of one royal house was contracted several years ago. It was made, after Patriarch Ilya II made a sensational statement that a monarchy could be restored in the country and that the throne could be returned to the Bagrations, who ruled the country from 809 to 1801, i.e. for almost a thousand years.
The Bagrations are one of the oldest dynasties in the world, and the Georgians say that it yields only to the imperial dynasty of Japan in duration of rule. There are many historic legends about the Bagrations; they are a part of the ethnic-national mythology of Georgia. But the idea of returning one of them to power wasn’t liked by some forces. However, supporters of a “restoration of historic justice” state that it is about a constitutional monarchy when a monarch reigns, but doesn’t rule.
However, immediately after the historic baptism, the main ideologist of monarchism, businessman Levan Vasadze, noted that the “Georgian tsar” should be not only a symbolic figure, but a so-called “crisis-manager” who acts on the political stage only in times of serious political conflict – for settlement of disputes between the government and the parliament and between social and ethnic groups.
As an example he speaks about the role of the Spanish King Juan Carlos before the attempted putsch in 1981. At the same time, Levan Vasadze and his supporters often naïvely say that restoration of the monarchy can play a positive role in a settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, as the Bagrations had the title of “the tsars of Abkhazians and Georgians.” Again they put forward the examples of the royal families of Spain and the UK, which play a role in consolidating the various ethnic groups that live in their countries.
One of the supporters of Vasadze is film director Georgy Khaindrava, who always repeats that the Georgian people “have never rioted against the Bagrations, overthrown them by revolutions or cut off their heads.” So the Bagrations could become guarantors of social harmony in society. “Our people have a monarchical mentality. They traditionally elect tsars, not presidents,” Georgy Khaindrova says, hinting that Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Eduard Shevardnadze and Mikhail Saakashvili were elected by great numbers of people. However, voters soon became disappointed with them, leading to heavy crises, overthrows and revolutions.
According to the idea of Vasadze and Khaindrava, which is approved by the Catholicos Patriarch, the country should be transformed into a constitutional monarchy steadily in 16-18 years, when Georgy Bagrationi will be of full age. During all these years he has to be raised by the GOC and prepare for reign.
At the same time, the beautiful project has serious opponents. First of all, there is the former president Mikhail Saakashvili. He used to tell jokes about David Bagrationi. The father of the heir to the throne really gets into trouble all the time. His marriage with Anna Bagration Georgian was almost broken by an affair which was widely covered by the media. Moreover, David Bagration grew up in Spain and almost doesn’t speak Georgian and has no desire to learn the language.
However, the biggest obstacle is the political tradition. In recent years Georgia has developed as a republic. In 20 years the republican ruling form will be a stable reality, while the last Georgian tsar lost his throne in 1801.
Moreover, even today there is a great number of people in the country, who support the protest slogans “We don’t want to pay for empty luxury!” The argument can often be heard in the UK, let alone Georgia, where everything will have to be started from zero.