Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Georgian Language and The Story of April 14, 1988

The monument in Dedaena Park

At the beginning of the Soviet Union, there was no such thing as a Soviet nation. This union was a collection of different nations with different cultures. Let's not forget that the United Nations did not exist at that time, and in general the situation in the world was different from the modern era.
It is interesting to note that the only Soviet republic that had a single official language was Georgia. For many years, the boundary between ethnicity and nation in the Soviet Union was not clear until the concept of the Soviet nation was considered in Brezhnev's time. At first, Azeris, Armenians, and Georgians were called titular nations. Thus, Azeris and Armenians had their own national language, which, of course, was an honor, so Georgia was still the only Soviet republic to have an official and national language. During Brezhnev's time, the idea of ​​forming a Soviet nation penetrated and put it into practice until the top Soviet officials. In 1977, a new constitution was passed in the Soviet Union that defined and recognized the nation of the Soviet Union. Under the 1977 constitution, the Soviet Union included a single nation with a single official language, and no republics could have a specific official language. In 1988, the Soviet Republic of Georgia, citing a recent constitution, declared that Georgian would no longer be the official language in Georgia. The announcement angered Georgians. Throughout history, the Georgian language has been the cause of unity and solidarity between kingdoms, feudal lords and various tribes in Karteli, Kakheti, Kolkhis, Iveria, etc., so the Georgian identity is tied to the Georgian language. On April 14, 1978, a large-scale protest was held in Tbilisi to protest the decision of the Soviet authorities. The protest was not heard by dignitaries such as Brezhnev, although Eduard Shevardnadze made great efforts in this direction. He understood the problems of the Republic of Georgia well, and that he was influential among the Soviet leaders, as if he himself had a position in the Soviet system. During the protests, non-Georgian ethnic groups in Georgia were silent or perhaps aligned with Soviet officials. Abkhazia announced that if Georgia became an official language, they would secede from Georgia, and that remaining within the Soviet Union would only be possible as an independent republic. During the Brezhnev era, the Soviet Union was a difficult system, and none of these voices influenced the final decisions. The Georgian request was not accepted, but since 1990, April 14 has been called Georgian Language Day.
In fact, the commemoration of the Georgian Language Day is a reminder of the efforts of its predecessors to preserve this language, and it is now celebrated throughout Georgia.

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