The first working meeting within the project, held at Europe House Georgia on 8 April 2015, covered the following topics:
– The essence of identity
– The role of language
– Issues of state cultural policy based on the sovereignty principle
– What environment is conducive to the implementation of the Convention
Experts in culture and art participated in the meeting. Ms. Nino Gunia-Kuznetsova presented the project and the Convention. Participants discussed methodologies for developing a database, questionnaires and recommendations for implementing the program of the Convention. They also discussed the goals and scope of application of the Convention, as well as the government’s attitude towards the Convention.
A questionnaire developed by the Young Sociologists’ Association was discussed, and recommendations made.
The role of language was analyzed as the essence of identity, including two presentations, “Linguistic diversity as a key element of cultural diversity” and “Problems of the advancement of the Georgian language online”. Participants discussed how learning various languages within the state language program could be done, and possible ways to promote linguistic diversity. They also touched on the protection and development of unique endangered languages in Georgia, specifically the problem of the reduced area of Abkhazian, the “russification” in Abkhaz areas and the identity and number of organizations working on issues of the Abkhazian language. Another endangered language discussed was Udi, especially the need to identify the population speaking this language and how the state can support its preservation.
State cultural policy based on the sovereignty principle was a key issue at the meeting, which included the activities of state, nongovernmental and private sectors with regard to the protection of diversity in cultural expression. Participants exchanged ideas on state regulations in Georgia, support programs, planning, implementation and monitoring measures — both existing and possible.
The meeting identified the most problematic issue: that of ensuring an environment conducive to the implementation of the Convention. This includes legislation and institutional development, addressing flaws in public awareness, and developing civil society activities. A related subject is the effectiveness of inter-ministerial cooperation and how to develop institutions that encourage implementation. A format of art councils was considered as a possibility.