Georgian Political Wise Man Rondeli Dies Aged 73

Alexander Rondeli, a founding president of Georgia Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) and revered Georgian political scientist died on June 12, aged 73.

Rondeli was regarded as a leading political scientist and an expert of international relations and Russian studies in Georgia. He had been leading GFSIS for more than 14 years, with the foundation conducting excellent analysis on regional and security studies in the country.

Rondeli was one of the pioneers in his generation who was determined that Georgia would opt for the European and NATO path, as he believed this would guarantee the country’s national security and future prosperity.

Dr. Rondeli, who held the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, was born in 1942. He graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Tbilisi State University and obtained a doctorate degree in 1974. Subsequently, he was a research fellow through an exchange program at the London School of Economics and Political Science (1976-77). Apart from this, he was tightly linked with Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School as a mid-career fellow (1993–94), and to Emory University (1991) as a visiting professor. Mount Holyoke College and Williams College were other academic institutions where Dr. Rondeli continued his academic career in the 1990s, an extremely complicated period for Georgia.

In addition, at Tbilisi State University (1991-96) he led the Department of International Relations and directed the Foreign Policy Research and Analysis Center at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia (1997-2001). Two well-known books International Relations and The Small States in the International System were written by the late Dr. Rondeli, texts widely used by Georgian IR students.

Rondeli, when founding GFSIS at the end of the 20th century along with Temur Yakobashvili, a former Georgian official, said it aimed to “help improve public policy decision-making in Georgia through research and analysis, training of policymakers and policy analysts, and public education about the strategic issues”. 

The political wise man strongly advocated Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic orientation, a course he saw as the single choice for the country to become a viable democracy. During the past two decades, he became a teacher for thousands of students in the country, many of whom have gone on to establish successful careers on politics or connected fields.

From his colorful professional experience in the fields of diplomacy, politics and security, Rondeli believed that Russia had only imperial ambitions in Georgia, no peaceful goals, a statement he rearticulated in November 2013 when visiting Georgetown University. He assessed Georgia - despite permanent Russian pressure and its ongoing occupation of part of its territory – would be able to maintain the course taken to defend its sovereignty and build a democratic state.

He dreamt of a Georgia which would create a ‘success story’ in the region and beyond as a territorially tiny country taking extraordinary and audacious steps to make a quick shift from the post-Soviet mentality to that of a western democracy. He saw the current Georgian stance as ‘moving slowly but developing’.

A service for Dr. Rondeli was held at Tbilisi State University on 16 June attended by thousands of Georgian and foreign public figures, students, scientists and others.

Zviad Adzinbaia

18 June 2015 22:47