The closing panel of the EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum 2015 saw the winners of the essay competition “Tbilisi 2015/Caucasus 2051- A History of Our Future: Our Fears, Our Hopes, Our Lives” issue passionate appeals for cooperation and reconciliation in the region.
“It is really important to bring us together and talk,” said Elnur Imanbeyli from the ADA University, Azerbaijan. My dream is a region where we are all working together.”
Mr Imanbeyli and his fellow students from the Free University of Tbilisi, the Tbilisi State University and the American University of Armenia were joined in the discussion by the award-winning journalist and TV presenter Natalia Antelava, who also served as head of the jury for the essay competition.
Ms Antelava underlined that the young generation in the Caucasus region “has more options and more opportunities, but also more responsibilities” than any of their predecessors.
The participants in the EBRD essay competition were certainly up for the challenge. Comparing his home country Georgia with the mythical Sisyphus, Davit Abesadze from the Tbilisi State University said: “You have to try and try again. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but we must keep trying. Only the future can tell what will be the result of what we try today.”
The students, who soon will enter their working lives and become leaders in the professions they choose, were also united in their belief that to fully reap the potential of their region the societies in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia still need to change considerably.
“We need to wake up”, Nika Maghlaperidze from the Free University of Georgia said, while Lile Kazaishvili from the Tbilisi State University added more poetically: “We want a country with a lantern inside each of us.”
This lantern stands for a sense of civic responsibility and compassionate work for the common good.
“We need to change our character and think more about society rather than ourselves”, said Hambardzum Galstyan from the American University of Armenia. This also means a strong dedication to the home country.
The winners of our essay competition “Tbilisi 2015/Caucasus 2051- A History of Our Future: Our Fears, Our Hopes, Our Lives” issued passionate appeals for cooperation and reconciliation.
The participants in the panel discussion, chaired by Larry Sherwin, EBRD Deputy Director for Communications, agreed with Mr Imanbeyli when he said succinctly: “Our countries, our destinies.”
The process of unleashing the potential of these countries and the Caucasus region has only just started. But the students, who took part in the EBRD essay competition, serve as an example of how far the societies have already come.
Bright, serious, compassionate as they are, the students combine a sober view of reality with the determination to make a difference. For this, it is important to be capable of introspection, but also to have a strong sense of belonging.
When asked how they see themselves in comparison with other countries, Dimitry Dekanozishvili from the Free University of Tbilisi said: “Maybe we don’t need to compare ourselves to anyone, but believe much more in our own abilities and prospects.”
So, from the standpoint of Tbilisi 2015 how do the young participants in the essay competition see the Caucasus region in 2051? It will not be easy, but there will be change for the better and progress, the panelists agreed.
Hambardzum Galstyan from Yerevan said: “As our economies will grow, so we will grow together and this will precipitate all kinds of further changes.”
And his friend Nigar Asgarova from Baku agreed: “The most important thing is that we keep communicating. This alone will bring the people of the region closer to each other.”
The discussion was followed by an award ceremony. Lile Kazaishvili, Nika Maghlaperidze, Hambarzoum Galstyan and Toghrul Novruzlu won a iPod with special engraving each and Lile Kazaishvili also won an internship at Wissol, one of Georgia’s largest companies and a long-standing partner of the EBRD.
Tbilisi State University
Free University of Tbilisi:
American University of Armenia
ADA University, Azerbaijan