Salome Lemonjava

I come from Georgia. It seems we have everything– beautiful nature, natural waters, victory, politics with its high doze, music and cinema, inflation and devaluation, “GEM fest” and“Check In Georgia”, which brings together the world’s most famous singers and musicians. We have wealthy people and far more poor ones.  There are LGBT rights defenders as well as their violators. If someone needs a financial support against disease, like cancer we Georgians all become united through the social campaign to help him/her. Georgia is a newly born democratic country and we all love to live here.

I live in Tbilisi, however I was born in the northwest part of Georgia, in Abkhazia. Today, this territory is occupied by Russia, that’s why I cannot visit my house. I was little girl when I was forced to leave home. I always try to recover my memories about my childhood by videos, images or by the stories from my relatives.  During the centuries Abkhazian and Georgian people lived in peace and friendship. Nowadays these relations are lost and seized.

I grew up in Tbilisi and it is the capital of my country. It’s very old and very peculiar at the same time. A bit ancient, but still very young.  If you want to see Tbilisi you have to start with its old part.  Houses and old balconies, Tbilisian yards and it’s specific smell which unites eastern and western cultures, but it is still unique and very special. As you visit Tbilisi you never forget it.  This is the local individualism.  Tbilisi is a multi-nation city. Georgians, Armenians and Russians here all are Tbiliseli (people from Tbilisi).  Here in Tbilisi one space unites orthodox and (Roman) catholic churches  as well as Jewish synagogue and Muslim mosques, is not it unique?

Now I will tell a story of my friend. Couple of months ago Abkhazian mother and daughter visited my friend in Tbilisi. Nowadays, it is quite difficult to cross the border of conflict, but in certain cases it is still possible. So, they used this opportunity and arrived to recover old feelings.

Our guests were quite frightened at first, they did not know what would be reactions of Georgian people when they will find out their origins. Of course these fairs were groundless. Everything negative what they have heard before about Georgians, was just a myth. Georgians welcomed guests very warmly we asked them lots of questions – “how is life in Sukhumi?”; “Is Chambis street still so beautiful?”; “Can you show me some photos of Abkhazia?” “Oh, how I miss sand brewed coffee in Sukhumi “.

There was a feast, fun, lot of warm smiles, memorable photo. All of us were filled up only with positive aromas full of joy. And you know what happened? Nobody remembered the words like- war and conflict. None of us talked about it.  After 23 years of occupation, everything seemed the same as if nothing had happened.

This history is a very small and has a local sense. However, it is very essential and globally important. What is more, Georgian government proposed ethnic Abkhaz citizens absolutely free medical ​​treatment. This is the reason,why the number of Abkhazian beneficiaries is increasing annually.  Here in Georgia they can visit their old friends and go back home with the stories, like we had with our friends.

The old relationship is still building step by step, slowly but progressively. Communication is the beginning of everything. The frequent communication among Abkhazians and Georgians is the beginning of something great. All this bilateral relations smells like reunion and gets us closer to the end of the conflict. We’ll spend good time together again and again. As a result, the world will have one more united and strong country. Georgia, as a part of European family, will not be the country with conflict zones but united and strong country. Our foreign guests will always remember Georgia as a pleasant memory.

When you build a house, even one brick is very important. When you are drawing, even one colour can create the whole composition. So, relationship is the same. I am a dreamer but realistic dreamer. I believe that these are the local actions, which will contribute the global ones. We believe we will become EU and NATO members.

I come from Georgia. I was born in the northwest part of Georgia, in Abkhazia. I grew up in Tbilisi. Abkhazia is Georgia.

Salome Lemonjava

Read this article in Georgian here.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author, and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of ALDA and the European Union.