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A great holiday – Georgia’s Constituent Assembly holds its first session – 12/03/1919

(The Georgian Messenger, N4, March 16, 1919)

A great holiday

On last Wednesday, the 12th of March, the capital of Georgia was decked out with flags: from all quarters of the city there streamed to the palace crowds of the populace: in the close of the adjacent cathedral troops were drawn up. In a word, Tiflis wore a holiday air. Not Tiflis alone: the 12th of March was a holiday for the whole Georgia. The thoughts and sentiments of the whole republic, of the whole people, were concentrated on the capitol, where was being held the first session of the Constitutional Assembly.

Nought can be more splendid than a festival of liberty, and on the 12th of March Georgia celebrated her double liberation: liberation from oppression as a nation, and her liberation from civil and political slavery. The constitutional Assembly is but the consummation and the crowning of the hard fight which the Georgian people has been carrying on for years, which has cost so much effort and so many sacrifices. Together with the other peoples which made up the former Russian Empire, it cast off two years since the yoke of the autocracy which was crushing all Russia. It received thereby political freedom, it freed itself from the tyrannical imperial rule, and cleared the path for the national liberation of Georgia.

In May of last year the independence of the Republic of Georgia was declared. The following ten months have been consumed in unceasing and severe struggles in defend this same independence. Now at last the Georgian people has received the possibility of electing on the basis of a general secret, direct and equal ballot, with the principle of proportional representation, its empowered representatives, to whom is entrusted the task of establishing on a firm basis all that has been won in the preceding bitter conflict and to invest in a final and legal form the governmental institutions of the Republic.

These representatives met in Tiflis on March 12, where the first session of the Constitutional Assembly was held in the palace. What was the first step, the first act of the people’s representatives?…… representatives of the Allied powers, of the neighbouring Caucasian republics and other states, who were present as guests, there was read out the solemn act regarding the independence of Georgia. The deputies, rising to their feet, listened to the reading of the document, and adopted it unanimously, under great and joyful applause. Thus the Georgian people, in the person of its representatives, once more categorically confirmed its unshakeable resolution to live free and independent. It desires to be master of its own destiny, and this decisive utterance of the Assembly was echoed by the people on the streets of the capital, was echoed by the whole of Georgia, ready and willing to lay down its life for its native land.

Such was the first word, the first decision of the Constitutional Assembly. The further path along which it is to proceed is clearly defined by the words of the president , which found unanimous approval and support among the deputies. “We wish to tear ourselves loose from Asia and to enter into the family of the civilized democratic countries of Europe”.

We know of no other case where a nation has carried into effect so accurately and so correctly the idea of the self-determination of a people. We know of no other example where independence and the desire for independent existence have been realized more unanimously and more widely than in our own little country.

We are likewise sure that this united voice of our people will be heard and its desires fulfilled by those who have proclaimed to the world the great ideal principle of the liberation of small nations.

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