“Civil Engagement and Activism Center” has operated in Marneuli for more than 4 years. The centre’s main objective is the protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, their facilitation and increase of their engagement in the decision-making process.
The centre established by three students has implemented several important projects. As Rashan Ziadaliev, the organization director, tells us their activity focuses on the municipalities where the ethnic minorities have more problems and challenges.
“Within the framework of our project “Effective Involvement of Ethnic Minorities in the Municipal Budget Planning Process”, as a result of advocacy, Marneuli City Hall purchased 5 public transport vehicles, about 400 trash cans and developed a special program to support youth ideas. The mentioned project was implemented within the framework of the grants of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), with the financial support of the US Agency for International Development” – Rashan Ziadaliev.
The fact that civil activism brings positive changes has been proven by the organization more than once. Years ago, the City Hall of Marneuli Municipality used to spread information only in Georgian on its Facebook page. Young people demanded to spread the information in Azerbaijani language and for this purpose, they held an online flash mob on the webpage of the Marneuli City Hall. Under the notices published in Georgian, everyone reported their demands together. A week later, the agency started publishing information in the Azerbaijani language as well.
The organization also advocated for the construction of a kindergarten in the Kachaghani community. The signatures were collected, and submitted to the Marneuli City Hall – the request was met and in 2024, the given community will have a preschool.
Their work in the direction of civil integration of ethnic minorities did not end there. Training, seminars, exchange programs – this is an incomplete list of activities of the organization.
Rashan Ziadaliev emphasizes the fact that it was on the basis of their organization that the Marneuli Youth Center “Unity in Diversity” was created. It unites more than 100 Georgian, ethnically Azerbaijani and ethnically Armenian young people.
The center was founded by the United Nations Association of Georgia with the financial support of USAID in November of this year.
The activity of the “Civil Engagement and Activism” Center was not suspended even while the pandemic. During this period, members of the organization worked to identify and address the needs of ethnic minorities in the region. Rashan Ziadaliev recalls the time when Marneuli was declared a “red zone”:
“When it was declared a red zone, there was an info vacuum in Marneuli, no one knew what this virus is. We prepared an animated video and created a group of volunteers. We contacted community centres and provided support on voluntary bases”
The organization launched a campaign to help people who could not pay for the internet. Representatives of the organization went around the villages, collected the money and with the accumulated resources covered the internet fee to 50 families
Marneuli’s “Civil Engagement and Activism Center” member also works in the direction of combating disinformation.
They hold discussions on this issue with representatives of ethnic minorities, make videos, and have a radio program as well. Georgia’s path to the Euro-Atlantic integration, activities of the European Union, and NATO, political history of Georgia – trainings are often held on these topics. As one of the team members Nashir Ordukhanov believes, CEAC will be able to do more despite the many difficulties and challenges:
“CEAC is an ‘idea’ that unites all of us.” This idea is to live in a free, strong, integrated and EU member Georgia.
Our goal in this organization is to strengthen the civil society in Georgia, to facilitate the youth, to involve the public in the self-government decision-making process, to raise public awareness on various issues, to contribute to the process of Georgia’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic space and etc.
Despite many difficulties and barriers, we have been actively working in the region for years, and every year we will be able to do more” – Nashir Ordukhanov.
Author: Guranda Phutkaraya
Azerbaijani translation: Chichak Guseynova
English translation: Tamar Cherkezishvili
The article was created with the support of the Civil Society Institute, within the framework of the project " Civil Society Initiative: Sustainable, Open and Accountable Civil Society, Organizations for the Development of Georgia" funded by the European Union and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Kvemo Kartli Media is fully responsible for its content and it may not reflect the views of the European Union or the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The project is implemented by a consortium led by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) together with the following non-governmental organizations – Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), Civil Society Institute (CSI), Counseling and Training Center (CTC), Education Development and Employment Center (EDEC) and European Institute of Policy (IEP).
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