Revaz Gachechiladze

Revaz Gachechiladze

Ambassador Extraordinary of Georgia to Israel
Country: Georgia

Biography of Revaz Gachechiladze

Revaz Gachechiladze, the extraordinary ambassador of Georgia in Israel, unexpectedly found himself at the center of attention due to the events happening in Tbilisi. Journalists from all Israeli television channels are rushing to him for comments and forecasts. Reporters demand answers to the question: was there a coup in Georgia or not? How do you think diplomats are born or become? Do they become diplomats or are they born diplomats? Well, poets are born. But everything else you have to strive for yourself. I became a diplomat, you could say, by chance. I studied at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the Tbilisi State University. Of course, I thought, "Oh, it would be nice to become a diplomat!" But at that time, it was an unattainable goal for a Georgian, as the "fifth point" existed not only for Jews, but also for other "national minorities" (representatives of national minorities). It was impossible for guys from the Soviet republics to get into MGIMO.
Then I somehow forgot about this idea and started dealing with quite "ordinary" matters: I headed the Department of Socio-Economic and Political Geography at Tbilisi State University. In the late 60s, our department started preparing young people to work abroad. And then many of our graduates went to work in trade missions abroad. And after Georgia became independent - in embassies. In general, many of my students ended up in diplomatic work much earlier than me.
Georgian Community in Israel

How many Georgians live in Israel? There are about a hundred thousand Georgian Jews living here. However, if we strictly follow the letter of the law, not all of them are originally from Georgia: some of them left even from the Soviet Union. And in Israel, a whole generation of Georgians who were born here has grown up. There are about five hundred ethnic Georgians who have retained Georgian citizenship... There are also illegal immigrants, but they seem to avoid us for some reason.
Does Georgia recognize dual citizenship? No, it does not. Who recognizes it? Russia also does not recognize it.
By the way, since you mentioned Russia. Does the Georgian embassy also have queues like the Russian embassy? There are queues in the summer when people flock to Georgia to visit their relatives. You won't see our queue on the street - we have a waiting room that can accommodate about fifty people, and we never have more than that.
Can an ordinary person from the street have an audience with you? And if so, how long would they have to wait? We can meet practically on the same day they request it. If I am free, not meeting with someone else, then a person can come to me for a meeting. And this applies not only to Georgian citizens - any Israeli can meet with me.
Can I ask you: are you Jewish? I will honestly say: I am not Jewish. I have no one in my family who is Jewish. I am Georgian.
You say that you did not study diplomacy, how do you know the intricacies of diplomatic etiquette? That is exactly what I learned! I still have a book called "Diplomatic Practice" from my student years. I brought it with me to Israel. In addition, when we were studying English at the institute, we had a program dedicated to diplomatic etiquette. Well, I also learned some details through practice.
Do you strictly adhere to etiquette, or do you sometimes allow yourself to deviate from the rules? You know, diplomatic etiquette is not strictly adhered to in Israel. I feel quite comfortable here. For example, in Israel, a diplomat can wear a short-sleeved shirt and no tie. I have even seen many officials wearing sandals. You will never see this in other countries.
Doesn't Israeli lack of punctuality bother you? The fact that no event starts on time, whether it's a briefing, press conference, diplomatic reception, or concert... Some "Russian Israelis" still can't get used to it...
Why should it bother me?! I recently discovered that concerts sometimes start on time. For example, recently I was invited to a concert of Georgian Jews in Bat Yam. Out of habit, knowing that all events start an hour later, I decided to stop by Jaffa for flowers. When we arrived at the hall ten minutes later, I reassured my wife that the concert wouldn't start before forty minutes. We enter the hall - and the performance has already begun! I was very surprised...
Why has cooperation between Israel and Georgia in the fight against terrorism not been established yet? Why are Georgian special forces being trained by Americans and not Israelis? We are not against such cooperation with Israel. It's just that the Americans pay us to learn from them. If you pay, we would gladly accept assistance...
Do you not think that Jews and Georgians are kindred spirits? Remember how Mimi calls Telavi from Tel Aviv in the movie Mimino, and instead of hanging up, he starts singing a song together with an unknown Jew to him? Notice that the movie tells the story of the years when there were no diplomatic relations between the USSR and Israel. And do you remember how this episode ends? Mimi had to walk back to the airport because all the money went to pay for the call. But I like another episode in the movie: when Kikabidze and Mkrtchyan are in an elevator with Japanese people. And the Japanese people say to each other, "how these Russians resemble each other!" It's especially funny because it was said about an Armenian and a Georgian...
Should a diplomat have a special character? In order to become a diplomat, of course, certain specific qualities are necessary. Do you remember the joke about the difference between a diplomat, a general, and a girl? If a diplomat says "yes" - it means "maybe." If a diplomat says "maybe" - it means "no." And if a diplomat says "no" - that is not a diplomat. So, as it should be for a diplomat, I never say "no."
Never? I will answer, "maybe."
How do you feel about compromises? Compromise is a very important thing. But there are moments when compromise is impossible. For example, compromising with one's own conscience. And a compromise regarding the territorial division is "maybe."
Georgia did not participate in the development of the "Road Map," but I will still ask, what is your opinion on it? I view it positively because the "Road Map" became a mandatory document after it was adopted by the UN Security Council.
Do you think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will ever be resolved? Definitely! I just can't say when.
I can't speak to you without addressing the topic that has become "number one" recently. What really happened in Georgia? How do you understand the current situation? For a long time, I was simply happy that nothing was heard about our country. I said - and thank God, if they don't say anything, it means nothing bad is happening... And when Georgia became the number one topic, when the international channel BBC reported with an hour delay that a military helicopter had been shot down over Mosul, it didn't make me happy at all. Being in the spotlight is good only when you win the World Cup. However, what is happening in Georgia now cannot be called a bad thing. During the elections, there were quite serious inaccuracies - voter lists were mixed up, there were several versions of the lists, some people did not find themselves in these lists, and in some places, "dead souls" appeared. The results were manipulated in favor of the ruling bloc, which received only 21% of the votes. Demonstrations were organized by the parties that did not receive the votes of the voters. Even if it was only 6-7 percent, we would have had a completely different picture in parliament. Perhaps some other parties could have overcome the seven percent threshold.
In general, it was a principled issue where compromise was impossible. That is why people joined the protest actions. All this lasted for three weeks and ended with the resignation of the president.
I do not want to say anything bad about Shevardnadze. He did everything to ensure that this confrontation ended peacefully. You will notice that there was not a single shot fired, not a scratch. Well, the crowd behaved very decently: not a single window was broken, not a single car was overturned.
That is why journalists called this revolution "velvet"...
Take the word "revolution" in quotes. In fact, there was a change of power within the Constitutional field. They did not go beyond the Constitution.
And what about the fact that the protesters stormed the parliament? Is that constitutional? Firstly, legally elected deputies broke into the hall, and with them were the deputies who, if the election results had not been manipulated, should have taken their seats in parliament. There were, of course, a few people from the streets, but very few. By the way, how many were there? About a hundred people. Two hundred and fifty stormed the hall, sixty of whom were lawfully elected deputies. The rest - indeed, people from the crowd. They jumped on tables, knocked over chairs. One of them threw a bottle. By the way, it was a plastic bottle and it didn't even break. If it is possible to judge these people, it is only for hooliganism. No other accusations can be made against them.
What is your prognosis for further developments? Who, for example, will become the president of the country? You are asking too much from me. I am not ready to give such a prognosis. Probably, there will be a consensus candidate from the former opposition.
Can a woman become president? After all, it is Nino Burjanadze who is currently acting as the head of state. You know, the most famous political figure in our country is still considered Queen Tamar. So, it would not be the first time for Georgia to live under the leadership of a woman. It would not be unexpected or unacceptable for us. Moreover, there has never been any anti-feminist sentiment in our country. On the contrary, Nino is treated with great respect. She is a talented, well-educated woman. But whether she will become the president, I cannot say.
You say that women are respected, but what about the national tradition of a woman setting the table and leaving to not interfere with men's conversations? With such a utilitarian approach, how can we talk about respect? You know, an even greater disrespect for the guest and the hostess would be if a man were to take care of the house, and she would sit and talk with the guest...
Let's assume that setting the table is women's work. But why doesn't a woman stay with the guests when the table is set? Why not? Women often sit at the table as well. But more often than not, women leave because they are not interested. Plus, men drink, women don't. But none of them feels oppressed.
In Israel, women also do not always feel comfortable. For example, many people wearing kippahs would never shake hands with a woman for anything. My wife didn't know this and once reached out her hand to greet a rabbi. He not only pulled his hand away but also hid it behind his back. I think that's even worse. My wife was very surprised.
By the way, who is your wife? How does she feel in the role of the "hostess" during diplomatic receptions? Her name is Mzia, she is a historian by profession, specializing in Oriental Studies, and has a PhD in History. She used to be my student. When we have guests, she takes care of the house and joins us at the last moment.
What do your children do? Will they continue the diplomatic dynasty? No, not at all. My son is a mathematician, but now he is involved in economic development - he is building a factory. My daughter is a film director, she has already made several films, and now she is planning to become a theater director.
Do they come here? My son - no, he and his family always live in Georgia, but my daughter often visits us.
What are their names? My son's name is Givi, and my daughter's name is Irina. We named them after my parents.
On your table, do you only have traditional Georgian dishes? Why not? We also have hummus and khachapuri.
What do you love the most that your wife cooks? She makes a delicious chakapuli. However, in Georgia, lamb is used for this dish, here we use veal. I also love stewed meat with tarragon and tkemali. Tkemali is something we bring from Georgia frozen and keep in the freezer.
What? Tkemali is not a sauce? I have a bottle of "tkemali sauce" at home. Tkemali is not born as a sauce. It is a small, sour plum that grows in Georgia. It makes an excellent sauce. And my wife also makes delicious khachapuri. However, there is no cheese here that is used in Georgia.
There are many delicious cheeses in Israel. There is cheese here, of course, but you won't find Imeretian cheese, which is usually used for khachapuri, here. But my wife has adapted: she makes a combination of several local cheeses. It turns out well.
Did you find anything from Israeli cuisine that you like? Did you like stuffed fish? I don't like stuffed fish. But I don't eat anything stuffed, not even stuffed peppers.
How do you relax? I relax by working. For example, last year during my vacation, I gave lectures at Oxford.
You have traveled a lot. Do you have favorite cities? I love Tbilisi the most in the world. Well, second is London.
What do you think of Jerusalem? It's an interesting city. But if I had to choose where to live, it would be better in Tel Aviv.
Ambassadors usually have terms. What will you do when your term in Israel ends? I have been here for more than five years. I do not know exactly which month, but within the next year, I will definitely return to my homeland. And honestly, I already miss Tbilisi.