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Democracy - Georgia’s only hope

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, August 19
On the anniversary of last August’s Russian aggression lots of publications and comments appeared both in Georgia and outside it. All of these highlighted that the most important issue for Georgia today is its democratic development. This is an implied criticism of the current Georgian administration. The Rose Revolution promised much but the country could have done much more in the direction of democratic development than it has. The statement of US Vice President Joe Biden that the Rose Revolution is not yet complete should be understood not as support for the current administration but criticism of it, as it means our friends are not satisfied with the degree of democracy in Georgia. There are lots more still to be done and this was clearly expressed by the US Vice President.

It should also be understood that to a certain extent Biden supports those in Georgia who express their protest at the undemocratic steps taken by the ruling party. One of the leaders of the Fair Georgia Party, Petre Mamradze, remembers Biden expressing his concern that “these guys don’t understand democracy.” Current Public Defender Sozar Subari, who will be leaving his post in mid-September, says Georgia’s President has created a repressive system which returns the country to the Soviet Union and the author of this system will answer for it. Government supporters accuse Subari in return of getting inappropriately involved in politics and joining the opposition, which disqualifies him from being an Ombudsman. But whatever we say about the Ombudsman’s likes or dislikes it must be admitted that ‘democracy’ in Georgia has many faults and the promises of the Rose Revolution have not been completely fulfilled.

This is not only the position of the Georgian opposition but the conclusion of respected international organisations such as Freedom House. The last research carried out by this organisation was published in July 2009 and covered the year 2008. It said that in Georgia in 2008 the democracy indicator was “very low.” The Freedom House report makes very strict assessments of the democracy failures in Georgia. The biggest weakness it identifies is in the area of democratic governance. It states that the decline of Georgia’s democracy rating was much determined by the character of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections of 2008, in which the ruling party used the state’s administrative resources excessively and for its own advantage.

The authorities here verbally admit the need to deepen democracy in Georgia. They also talk about instituting another new wave of democracy, so there is some hope that at least this time the slogans about wanting democracy will be backed up by real action. So far the fine-sounding statements about this have only been for the ears of Western democracies, but their tolerance of words without action has worn thin. Hopefully our Western friends will be on healthy alert next time they hear about ‘democratic reforms’ in what they once called a ‘beacon of democracy’.