A BIT OF HISTORY...
HOW IT ALL BEGAN...
It all began with these guys – Zezva and Mzia, These two inhabited the territory of Georgia 1.8 million years ago. They are considered to be the first Europeans to walk the earth. Hopefully there were more, but we were able to find the remains only of these two.
The remains were found in Dmanisi during the Archaeological excavations that took place between 1991 – 2001 years. Scientists did their magic with the remains and after some work we’ve got an idea of what they looked like.
LONG, LONG TIME AGO...
The classical period saw the rise of the early Georgian states Diauehi (XIII BC) of Colchis (VIII BC), of Sper (VII BC) and of Iberia (VI BC). In the 4th century BC a unified kingdom of Georgia – an early example of advanced state organization under one king and an aristocratic hierarchy – was established.
Sargon II (722–705 BC) of the Assyrian empire conquered the Georgian state of Tabal and all of the Hittite kingdoms of the Taurus Mountains.
The two early Georgian kingdoms of late antiquity, known to Greco-Roman historiography as Colchis (Georgian: კოლხეთი) (in the west) and Iberia (Georgian: იბერია) (in the east), were among the first nations in the region to adopt Christianity (in AD 337, or in AD 319 as recent research suggests). In Greek mythology, Colchis was the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius‘ epic tale Argonautica. The incorporation of the Golden Fleece into the myth may have derived from the local practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers. Known to its natives as Egrisi or Lazica, Colchis was also the battlefield of the Lazic War fought between the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persia. After the Roman Empire completed its conquest of the Caucasus region in 66 BC, the Georgian kingdoms were Roman client states and allies for nearly 400 years. In 337 AD King Mirian III declared Christianity as the state religion, giving a great stimulus to the development of iterature, arts, and ultimately playing a key role in the formation of the unified Georgian nation. King Mirian III’s acceptance of Christianity effectively tied the kingdom to the neighboring Eastern Roman Empire which exerted a strong influence on Georgia for nearly a millennium, determining much of its present cultural identity.
The early kingdoms disintegrated into various feudal regions by the early Middle Ages. This made it easy for Arabs to conquer most of eastern Georgia in the 7th century. From 7th century to 10th century, Georgia was part of the Khazar empire.
The various independent regions would not be united into a single Georgian Kingdom until the beginning of the 11th century.
Although Arabs captured the capital city of Tbilisi in AD 645, Kartli-Iberia retained considerable independence under local Arab rulers. In AD 813 the prince Ashot I – also known as Ashot Kurapalat – became the first of the Bagrationi family to rule the kingdom. Ashot’s reign began a period of nearly 1,000 years during which the Bagrationi, as the house was known, ruled at least part of what is now the republic.
Bagrat III (r. 1027–72) united western and eastern Georgia. In the next century, David IV (called the Builder, r. 1089–1125) initiated the Georgian golden age by driving the Seljuk Turks from the country and expanding Georgian cultural and political influence southward into Armenia and eastward to the Caspian Sea.
The Georgian Kingdom reached its zenith in the 12th to early 13th centuries. This period has been widely termed as Georgia’s Golden Age or Georgian Renaissance during the reigns of David the Builder and Queen Tamar. This early Georgian renaissance, which preceded its West European analogue, was characterized by the flourishing of romantic-chivalric tradition, breakthroughs in philosophy, and an array of political innovations in society and state organization, including religious and ethnic tolerance.
The Golden age of Georgia left a legacy of great cathedrals, romantic poetry and literature, and the epic poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin“.David the Builder is popularly considered to be the greatest and most successful Georgian ruler in history. He succeeded in driving the Seljuks out of the country, winning the major Battle of Didgori in 1121. His reforms of the army and administration enabled him to reunite the country and bring most lands of the Caucasus under Georgia’s control.
David the Builder’s granddaughter Tamar succeeded in neutralizing opposition and embarked on an energetic foreign policy aided by the downfall of the rival powers of the Seljuks and Byzantium. Supported by a powerful military élite, Tamar was able to build on the successes of her predecessors to consolidate an empire which dominated the Caucasus, and extended over large parts of present-day Azerbaijan, Armenia, and eastern Turkey, until its collapse under the
Mongol attacks within two decades after Tamar’s death.
The revival of the Georgian Kingdom was set back after Tbilisi was captured and destroyed by the Khwarezmian leader Jalal ad-Din in 1226. The Mongols were expelled by George V of Georgia, son of Demetrius II of Georgia, who was named “Brilliant” for his role in restoring the country’s previous strength and Christian culture. George V was the last great king of the unified Georgian state. After his death, different local rulers fought for their independence from central Georgian rule, until the total disintegration of the Kingdom in the 15th century. Georgia was further weakened by several disastrous invasions by Tamerlane. Invasions continued, giving the Kingdom no time for restoration, with both Black and White sheep Turkomans constantly raiding its southern provinces. As a result, the Georgian Kingdom collapsed into anarchy by 1466 and fragmented into three independent Kingdoms and five semi-independent principalities. Neighboring empires exploited the internal division of the weakened country, and beginning in the 16th century, the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire subjugated the eastern and western regions of Georgia, respectively.
The rulers of regions which remained partly autonomous organized rebellions on various occasions. However, subsequent Persian and Ottoman invasions further weakened local kingdoms and regions. As a result of incessant wars and deportations, the population of Georgia dwindled from 5 million in the 13th century to 250,000 inhabitants at the end of the 18th century.
Eastern Georgia, composed of the regions of Kartli and Kakheti, had been under Persian suzerainty since 1555. With the death of Nader Shah in 1747, both kingdoms broke free of Persian control and were reunified through a personal union under the energetic king Heraclius II in 1762.
AND HERE COME THE RUSSIANS...
In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, which recognized the bond of Eastern Orthodoxy between the Russian and Georgian people and promised eastern Georgia protection against further Persian attacks, or by other aggressors. However, despite this commitment to defend Georgia, Russia rendered no assistance when the Turks and Persians invaded in 1785 and in 1795, completely devastating Tbilisi and massacring its inhabitants. This period culminated in the 1801 Russian violation of the Treaty of Georgievsk and annexation of eastern Georgia, followed by the abolishment of the royal Bagrationi dynasty, as well as the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Pyotr Bagration, one of the descendants of the abolished house of Bagrationi would later join the Russian army and rise to be a general by the Napoleonic wars.
On December 22, 1800, Tsar Paul I of Russia, at the alleged request of the Georgian King George XII, signed the proclamation on the incorporation of Georgia (Kartli-Kakheti) within the Russian Empire, which was finalized by a decree on January 8, 1801, and confirmed by Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801. The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Prince Kurakin. In May 1801, under the oversight of General Carl Heinrich Knorring (ru) Imperial Russia transferred power in eastern Georgia to the government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev. The Georgian nobility did not accept the decree until April 1802 when General Knorring compassed the nobility in Tbilisi’s Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the Imperial Crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were temporarily arrested.
In the summer of 1805, Russian troops on the Askerani River near Zagam defeated the Persian army and saved Tbilisi from reconquest now that it was officially part of the Imperial territories. Russian suzerainty over eastern Georgia was officially finalized with Persia in 1813 following the Treaty of Gulistan.
Following the annexation of eastern Georgia, the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti was annexed by Tsar Alexander I of Russia. The last Imeretian king and the last Georgian Bagrationi ruler Solomon II died in exile in 1815. From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars against the Ottoman Empire, several of Georgia’s previously lost territories – such as Adjara – were recovered. The principality of Guria was abolished and incorporated into the Empire in 1828, and that of Megrelia in 1857. The region of Svaneti was gradually annexed in 1857–59.
THOUGHT WE WERE THROUGH, BUT... HERE COME THE RUSSIANS AGAIN (USSR)
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia declared independence on May 26, 1918, in the midst of the Russian Civil War. The parliamentary election was won by the Menshevik Georgian Social-Democratic Party. Its leader, Noe Zhordania, became prime minister.
In 1918, the Georgian–Armenian War erupted over parts of Georgian provinces populated mostly by Armenians which ended because of British intervention. In 1918–19, G
eorgian general Giorgi Mazniashvili led a Georgian attack against the White Army led by Moiseev and Denikin in order to claim the Black Sea coastline from Tuapse to Sochi and Adler for independent Georgia. The country’s independence did not last long. Georgia was under British protection from 1918–1920.
In February 1921, Georgia was attacked by the Red Army. The Georgian army was defeated and the Social-Democratic government fled the country. On February 25, 1921, the Red Army entered the capital, Tbilisi, and installed a communist government loyal to Moscow, led by Georgian Bolshevik Filipp Makharadze.
Nevertheless, there remained significant opposition to the Bolsheviks, and this culminated in the
August Uprising of 1924. Soviet rule was firmly established only after this uprising was suppressed. Georgia was incorporated into the Transcaucasian SFSR, which united Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Later, in 1936, the TSFSR was disaggregated into its component elements and Georgia became the Georgian SSR.
Joseph Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, was prominent among the Bolsheviks, who came to power in the Russian Empire after the October Revolution in 1917. Stalin was to rise to the highest position in the Soviet state.
From 1941 to 1945, during World War II, almost 700,000 Georgians fought in the Red Army against Nazi Germany. There were also a few who fought on the German side. About 350,000 Georgians died in the battlefields of the Eastern Front.
On April 9, 1989, a peaceful demonstration in the Georgian capital Tbilisi ended with several people being killed by Soviet troops. Before the October 1990 elections to the national assembly, the Umaghlesi Sabcho (Supreme Council) – the first polls in the USSR held on a formal multi-party basis – the political landscape was reshaped again. While the more radical groups boycotted the elections and convened an alternative forum (the National Congress) with alleged support of Moscow, another part of the anticommunist opposition united into the Round Table—Free Georgia around the former dissidents like Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The latter won the elections by a clear margin, with 155 out of 250 parliamentary seats, whereas the ruling Communist Party (CP) received only 64 seats. All other parties failed to get over the 5% threshold and were thus allotted only some single-member constituency seats.
NOT PROUD OF IT, BUT IT'S TRUE
Joseph Stalin or Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin (Russian: Ио́сиф Виссарио́нович Ста́лин, pronounced
[ˈjɵsʲɪf vʲɪsɐˈrʲɵnəvʲɪtɕ ˈstalʲɪn]; born Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili, Georgian: იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი, pronounced[iɔsɛb bɛsɑriɔnis dzɛ dʒuɣɑʃvili]; 18 December 1878 – 5 March 1953) was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. “Wikipedia .org”
Time magazine named him a person of the year , twice – first in 1939 preceded by Adolf Hitler and succeeded by Winston Churchill ad second time in 1942 preceded by Franklin D. Roosevelt and succeeded by George Marshal. A man that ruled 1/6th of the world was born in Georgian town of Gori.
Until 2010 there was a huge statue of Stalin in the center of Gori. And until now there is functioning museum of Stalin which is quite interesting.
INDEPENDENCE, CIVIL WAR AND LOSS OF TERRITORIES
The referendum was sanctioned by the Georgian Supreme Council which was
elected in the first multi-party elections held in Soviet Georgia in October 1990, and was dominated by a pro-independence bloc Round Table-Free Georgia led by the Soviet-era dissident Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Having mostly boycotted the all-Union referendum on continued federation and the negotiations on a new union treaty on 17 March, Georgia became the fourth Soviet republic, after the three Baltic states (Lithuania on 9 February 1991 and Latvia and Estonia on 3 March), to organize the referendum on the issue of independence.
The only question of the referendum asked: “Do you support the restoration of the independence of Georgia in accordance with the Act of Declaration of Independence of Georgia of May 26, 1918?” The official results showed over 99% in favor with a 90.6% voter turnout. Due to the ongoing ethnic discord, the polls were largely boycotted by the non-Georgian population of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Four days after the final results were announced, the Georgian Supreme Council unanimously passed the declaration of independence on the second anniversary of the Soviet army crackdown on peaceful protests in Tbilisi on 9 April 1989.
The referendum coincided with a private visit of the former U.S. President Richard Nixon who visited a few polling stations in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi before his departure to Moscow later that day.
The Georgian Civil War comprised inter-ethnic and intranational conflicts in the regions of South Ossetia (1988–1992) and Abkhazia (1992–1993), as well as the violent military coup d’etat of December 22, 1991 – December 31, 1993, against the first democratically elected President of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia and his subsequent uprising in an attempt to regain power (1993).
While the Gamsakhurdia rebellion was eventually defeated, the South Ossetia and Abkhazia conflicts resulted in the de facto secession of both regions from Georgia. As a result, both conflicts have lingered on, with occasional flare-ups.
WAR OF AUGUST 2008
The Russo-Georgian War [note 3] was an armed conflict between Georgia, the Russian Federation, and the Russian-backed self-proclaimed breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The war took place in August 2008 amidst worsening relations between Russia and Georgia, which were both formerly constituent republics of the Soviet Union. The fighting took place in the strategically important Transcaucasia region, which borders the Middle East. It was regarded as the first European war of the 21st century.
As the Soviet Union weakened in early 1991, the Soviet Georgia declared independence as the new state of Georgia. Amidst this backdrop, a 1991–1992 war between Georgia and separatists in the South Ossetia region left parts of that region under de facto Russian-backed and internationally unrecognised separatist control. After the war was halted, a joint peacekeeping force of Georgian, Russian and Ossetian troops was stationed in the region. Meanwhile, a similar situation developed during 1992–1993 in the Georgian region of Abkhazia. After a prolonged lull, relations between Georgia and Russia began to worsen in April 2008.Ossetian separatists began shelling Georgian villages on 1 August, with a sporadic response from Georgian peacekeepers in the region.Georgia launched a large-scale military operation during the night of 7–8 August, recapturing most of Tskhinvali in hours.The Georgian government said it was responding to attacks on its villages in South Ossetia, and that Russia was moving non-peacekeeping units into the country.
Russia officially deployed units of the Russian 58th Army and airborne troops into South Ossetia on 8 August, launching air strikes against targets in Georgia proper. Russia claimed that its aim was “peace enforcement“. Russian and Ossetian forces battled Georgian forces throughout South Ossetia for four days, with the heaviest fighting in Tskhinvali, until Georgian forces retreated. Russian naval forces blockaded part of the Georgian coast.
Russian and Abkhaz forces opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgia.During the war, South Ossetians razed most ethnic-Georgian villages in South Ossetia. This was the first war in history when cyber warfare coincided with military action. There was an active information war during and after the conflict.
President of France Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated a ceasefire agreement on 12 August. Russian forces temporarily occupied the Georgian cities of Zugdidi, Senaki, Poti, and Gori (the latter two after the ceasefire), and raided Georgian military bases. Russia recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia on 26 August. In response, the Georgian government cut diplomatic relations with Russia.Russia mostly completed its withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper on 8 October. In the aftermath Russia’s international relations were largely unharmed. The war displaced 192,000 people,and while many returned to their homes after the war, 20,272 persons remained displaced as of 2019. Russian military occupies Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the ceasefire since August 2008.
“Click to read in more detail”
EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT AND STRUGGLE TOWARDS NATO
Georgia and theEuropean Union have maintained relations since 1996 in the INOGATE framework, and in 2006 a five-year “Action Plan” of rapprochement was implemented in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). A more comprehensive Association Agreement is under negotiation (as of 2013). A European Union Monitoring Mission was sent to Georgia in the wake of the 2008 South Ossetia war.
Georgia does not have any official status as a candidate for future enlargement of the European Union, but in 2011 Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili expressed a desire for his country to become a member state of the EU. This view has been explicitly expressed on several occasions as links to the United States, EU and NATO have been strengthened in an attempt to move away from the Russian sphere of influence.
To enhance their relationship, the EU and Georgia began negotiating an Association Agreement (AA) and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. In November 2012, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule stated that the AA negotiations could be finalized by November 2013. In February 2013, Tamar Beruchachvili, the Deputy State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Georgia, stated that Georgia had no plans to join the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, which Fule has warned Ukraine would be incompatible with the agreements with the EU. A ceremony on the initialling of the AA by the Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton was held at the Eastern Partnership summit on 29 November 2013. It was formally signed on 27 June 2014, and must be ratified by the EU, its member states and Georgia. So far, the Agreement was ratified by Georgia, the European Parliament and twelve EU member states (Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Estonia, Malta, Hungary, Sweden, Croatia, Denmark and Ireland). A second agreement, governing the country’s involvement in EU crisis management operations, was also signed.
On 18 December 2014 the European Parliament approved the Association Agreement. Members backed the treaty by 490 votes in favor to 76 against, with 57 abstentions.
Since March 28 2017 Georgian citizens exercise the right to travel to Schengen States without a visa.