Democracy and governance in the Caucasus
the legacy of constitutionalist movements
June 14, 2013
Tbilissi National Museum
Organized by IFEA (Observatoire du Caucase à Bakou) / Institut Français de Géorgie
While « frozen conflicts » continue to have an influence on the democratization process in the Caucasus, scholars from different countries of the region will debate in Tbilisi with French scholars about the legacy of constitutionalist movements of the early 20th century that had inspired the first Transcaucasian Republics, thus offering the opportunity to compare local contexts and specific aspirations in the framework of an interregional dialog, detached from contemporary issues.
The roundtable will gather researchers from the Caucasus region and will be open to the public. It will take place at Ilia State University of Tbilisi and will be entitled as follows: "Democracy and governance in the Caucasus: the legacy of constitutionalist movements ". This conference will enable to think on ideological origins of the three independent republics of Transcaucasia (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 1918-1921), that are less know than the history of revolutionary movements that led to the Bolsheviks’ victory and Russian control taking on those three countries.
Though, the constitutionalist idea that enabled the setting up of three new states obviously did not appear ex nihilo, and 20 years after the independence of the new Republics, it is interesting to confront their institutional constructs, their successes and their limits within the framework of particular events, and these idea debates that were broadly forgotten since one century but that are definitely went down into their history. We will identify the inspiration sources of the first three independent republics’ founders, from the exiled Decembrists’ arrival to the Caucasus and their contacts with local intelligentsia’s first generations, through the recurrent reference to the first 1876 Ottoman Constitution, or through the debates of the 1905 Russian Revolution, between tenants of a classes’ alliance against despotism (Constitutional-democrats and Mensheviks) and the Bolsheviks tenants of the dictatorship of the proletariat; and the relationship with the 1906-1909 Iranian constitutional Revolution, where North Azeris and revolutionary Armenians played an important role. Finally, we will compare local contexts and specific aspirations, and evaluate the importance of the reference to the first independences and of their leaders in the reappropriation of national identity and political life of the three countries in the last 20 years.