On 1 November 2018, the University of Westminster hosted ’Georgian Studies Day' (GSD) co-orginised by the Embassy of Georgia to the UK. In light of the centenary of the First Georgian Democratic Republic, the all-day event was dedicated to the topic - "Georgia’s Independence 1918-1921: Then and Now".
The conference was opened by its founder and convener Dr. Tamara Dragadze, who invited Prof Peter Bonfield, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Westminster, Professor Andrew Linn, Head of the Liberal Arts and Sciences college (UoW) and Dr John Murphy, Head of the School of Life Sciences (UoW) for their welcome remarks.
Keynote speaker HE Tamar Beruchashvili, the ambassador of Georgia to the UK made a general overview of the main topic – the role of the First Democratic Republic as a unique experiment of democracy and the first European social democratic state, which formed a foundation for modern Georgian state and society.
Mr Jonathan Djanogly MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Georgia talked about the role and importance of the UK-Georgia bilateral high level format called Wardrop Strategic Dialogue’.
Mr. Eric Lee, author and journalist presented several topics from his recent book: ’The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgotten Revolution, 1918-1921’.
In his talk "Declaration of Georgia’s Independence: Why the 26th of May?” Mr. Giorgi Kobakhidze, Counsellor of the Embassy of Georgia elaborated on the main factors and geopolitical developments surrounded declaration of Georgia’s independence.
Dr. Gillian Evison, Head of Bodleian Libraries’ Oriental Section and Chair of the Marjory Wardrop Fund talked about the rich collection of Sir Oliver and Marjory Wardrops preserved at the University of Oxford and what this legacy means from today’s perspective.
Professor Peter Lydyard and Dr Nina Porakishvili, GSD co-conveners from the University of Westminster gave a lecture: “Education and Science: a Century of Change”.
Representative of the Georgian Orthodox Church Father Giorgi Trapaidze spoke on the topic “The Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church”.
Mr Jason Osborn, founder and director of the Georgian Film Festival in London gave a presentation on ‘Independent Georgian Filmmaking from the End of the Czarist Empire to the Post-Soviet World Today’, followed by Mr. Peter Nasmyth with a slide-show “Independence and Mountain Communities”.
Ms. Keti Kalandaze from the British Georgian Society talked about recently launched Georgian language classes at the University College London and overviewed some major projects of the BGS. The audience traditionally heard reports on annual activities within existing twinning schemes: Bristol-Tbilisi, Newport-Kutaisi and Newcastle-Akhaltsikhe. Update on "Mkurnali" Charity was also presented.
A documentary “Chronicles of Independence” was screened during break between the sessions. The exhibition dedicated to the First Democratic Republic, featuring its achievements, initiatives and personalities, was also presented during the conference by the Embassy of Georgia.
Georgian Studies Day is a traditional format which explores various Georgia-related topics. The University of Westminster annually hosts the GSD conference with a specific theme. This year the conference was held for the 31st time.