Together with its local partner organisation in Georgia, the Civil Council on Defense and Security (CCDS), the Max Planck Foundation hosted a two-day conference from 7 to 8 December 2023 in Tbilisi on “Promoting Pluralism and Free Media in Georgia”. This event marked the culmination of the MPFPR-CCDS project ‘Promoting Pluralism of Opinion and Free media in Georgia‘, supported by the German Federal Office-funded initiative ‘Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia ‘. The official opening speech was delivered by the Ambassador of the Republic of Germany to the Republic of Georgia, H.E. Ernst Peter Fischer.
The conference gathered thirty participants, representing ethnic minorities and different media outlets in Georgia. The participants listened to keynote speeches by various experts and engaged in lively discussions on the freedom of media in Georgia, the challenges and importance of a pluralistic society while aspiring peace, the history and current situation of the Azerbaijani community in Georgia and the role of religion in the age of polarisation. Notable guest speakers included Dr Malkhaz Songulashvili, Bishop of the Evangelical Baptists Church of Georgia, Ms Nino Gelashvili, Senior Editor of Radio Free Europe in Georgia, Ms Teona Akubardia, independent Member of Parliament, Dr Lela Gaprindashvili, Professor of Tbilisi State University, Mr Oktai Kazumovi, civil activist, and Ms Medea Turashvili, researcher at the Social Justice Center. The dialogue amongst the participants and the discussions with the experts created further awareness on the importance of deconstructing stereotypes through media reporting to prevent the perpetuation of harmful narratives and to foster an inclusive and democratic society in Georgia.
During the conference, several participants also presented their mini-projects which they had designed and implemented in the different regions of Georgia (Adjara, Samkhtskhe-Javakheti, Marneuli, Akhaltsikhe and Batumi) in the framework of the present project to foster mutual understanding and appreciation for diversity in their local communities.