In November 2003 Georgians took to the streets of Tbilisi to protest the manipulation of elections by the Georgian leadership. The British author Peter Nasmyth captured the mood of surprise when the protests actually led to a peaceful toppling of the Georgian government.
"A virtually bloodless revolution had swept away one of the West's former darling politicians and provided those in the conspiracy theory camp with a textbook example, perhaps even a blueprint, on how to remove a government, put in "our guys," without any violence… A year later, after Ukraine's Orange Revolution, my Georgian friend espoused this belief, declaring the Rose Revolution a master-stroke of social engineering. "Discovered in Belgrade, perfected in Tbilisi, confirmed in Kiev."
Events in Tbilisi captured the imagination of many people across Central and Eastern Europe. They also alarmed leaders in Russia, who began to fear that such a "master stroke" might also be used to try to topple them.
Since then six years have passed. What has happened to the hopes of November 2003 in the intervening years? Did the Georgian "rose revolutionaries" succeed in changing the matrix of Georgian politics?
Mother Georgia. Photo: ESI
ESI in Georgia
ESI has been active in Georgia since 2007. We have been working with a team of young Georgian researchers doing field research across the country: visiting former tea growing and wine producing areas, talking to villagers and ministers, looking at the changing position of women (the majority of the resident population of Georgia) and investigating the impact of police reform on security.
We are convinced that Georgia's democratic and economic development is of genuine interest to the rest of Europe. We believe that there is a potential for Georgia to become a "normal and functioning European democracy." A precondition for this is for the outside world to have a better understanding of trends within Georgian society: its potential for change and the obstacles it still faces.
Capacity building partners in Georgia
 Nasmyth, Georgia: In the Mountains of Poetry, p. 308