Trained in political sciences and international relations, Sandro Megrelishvili’s career oscillated between the academic world, civil service, and civil society involvement. Since 2020 he has been working for the Georgian Centre for Strategy and Development, mainly focusing on organisational development. The shift to civil society from working on reform processes in the Ministry of Defence was a surprising one but it felt natural to Sandro who has had an interest in democratisation and security studies for a while. The move towards civil society also brought him more independence, freedom, and more room for pro-activity.
While being hopeful for the future, Sandro feels that democratic values are not well-established in Georgian society yet, often undermining the resilience of an already shaky democracy in Georgia. This is the reason why, as an EU-funded Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellow, his key objective is to contribute to fostering a democratic political culture among young people as well as wider society in Georgia.
Why is this important? Because having noticed injustices in many instances, Sandro developed a conviction that liberal democracy is the optimal answer to societal problems. Sandro believes that while still a hybrid regime (mixing elements of democracy with an authoritarian regime), Georgia has potential for better accountability and for a strengthened culture for civic action. He saw Georgian democracy in action when human rights violations happening in prisons triggered a societal response that ultimately led to a change of government. The Government’s responsiveness to what society wants and the protection of human rights and civil liberties are important cornerstones for democracy.
Currently working on a PhD in Political Sciences in addition to his civil society work, Sandro decided to work with young people on how to better advocate for democratic values. His Fellowship project “Fostering Democratic Citizenship in Georgia” included lectures, expert discussions, publications, and an essay and photo contest. Reading the winning essay was one of the most memorable moments for Sandro during his fellowship (the text of the winning essay in Georgian can be found in the publication below). The text, which he found very inspiring, argued that the idea of citizenship is not novel in Georgia but was promoted under different names in Georgian traditions. Because of this link to the past, Georgian citizens can claim democracy as something genuinely theirs. In Sandro’s words, it is proof that “democracy does not belong to any country but to all of humanity because we share common needs”.
If you want to know more about the results of Sandro’s Fellowship project, please check his latest publication (in Georgian only) “Problems of Political Culture in Georgia – Description of the Problems and Search for Solutions”.
Read more about Sandro and his Fellowship project here.
Sandro Megrelishvili is one of the Fellows of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship programme funded by the European Union. Its main objective is to support civil society activists or civically minded people from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine who demonstrate a deep commitment to leading positive social change in their communities. The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship programme has been running since 2017 and today the Fellowship alumni has over 130 Fellows from across the six countries of the Eastern Partnership. Details about the Fellows and their areas of interest can be found here.