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What are we facing?

By Messenger Staff
Monday, August 10
For the first ten days of August Georgia’s internal policy has been conducted without serious difficulty. There are no longer any visible signs of political confrontation and the country has spent most of its time discussing possible external threats, meaning of course another Russian aggression, which it can be logically assumed will not take place under the circumstances of today. The Saakashvili administration has become more confident in both foreign and domestic policy since Obama visited Moscow and Biden Tbilisi and the opposition has calmed its protests. Whether this situation will last is premature to speculate at the moment.

Some analysts predict that the situation will aggravate in autumn, firstly because of the economic crisis and secondly because the protest charge has not gone away - all the challenges the administration has faced still exist and more will probably appear.

The Government ensured that the anniversary of the August Russian aggression was commemorated all over the country. Minutes of silence, visiting the graves of the dead soldiers, releasing white doves of peace into the air, tears, songs, displays of patriotic sentiment – all were there on August 7. Nobody doubts that the country should commemorate such tragic events, but the question arises as to whether this should be done in such a pompous way. And underlying all the celebrations is the fact that a crucial question is unlikely to be answered by the current Georgian administration: how much were the people in charge of the country responsible for what went on before the war and during it?

There are many facts about this which are not fully known. Sometimes facts are manipulated but the feeling is that this catastrophe could have been avoided and the administration should have done so. When the country’s leadership says that the August war was inevitable it is not convincing. The results of the EU fact-finding commission’s investigations will be available in about 6-7 weeks time and then the people will know, at least partially, how much responsibility each participating side bears for the conflict.

The other issue however is how realistically the members of the current administration assess the situation in the country today. Do they take decisions just to help them stay in power or do they care for the interests of the country? We have many times returned to the situation which now exists in both the breakaway regions and the rest of Georgia, the Russian recognition of the puppet regimes and world disapproval of such actions. Russian tanks are less than 50 kilometres from Tbilisi, but Georgia’s Western friends are talking about democratic reforms and economic development in Georgia rather than removing the Russians. The question of whether Georgia’s NATO aspiration is still on the agenda is in subtle equilibrium. The North Atlantic alliance keeps its door open for Georgia and Ukraine but Georgia is in almost a state of war with Russia. How can this qualify it for NATO? This is a question few in the administration wish to answer, their own credentials being dependent on achieving this oft-repeated goal, their public image depending on how far they can convince people that unreality is real.

Following the recommendations of its Western friends Georgia is expecting another new ’wave of democracy’. So far however the non-Parliamentary opposition considers that all the steps in this direction taken by the administration are insufficient, superficial and not genuine. Very humble moves have been made to start cooperation with the opposition, but these are not enough. If the ruling party does not make its democratic slogans real confrontation could be more dramatic in autumn. The economic situation is unlikely to improve before then and late autumn and winter are always hard in Georgia. If words and actions are far apart, the people are more likely to be convinced by the latter.