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So this is New Year, and what have you done?

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, December 31
At the end of each year it is traditional to assess what has happened in the country. Evaluations in the political sphere are radically different, depending on who is making them. Government supporters are more positive, opposition supporters highlight shortcomings. No one doubts that this year was quite complicated politically, but we have looked through our archives and found that the same thing has been said every year since Georgia regained its independence.

The Government is proud of its reforms in the economic sphere which will be moved to the next level through its proposed Economic Freedom Act. It very often quotes the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal surveys which state that Georgia enjoys a high level of freedom, basing this assessment on different criteria such as freedom to conduct business, trade and taxation regulations, the monetary system, investment climate, financial freedom, the protection of private property, freedom from corruption, freedom of labour and so on. Georgia is 32nd out of 179 countries in these surveys, the same position it held in 2008. But while the Georgian Government is proud of its success in combating corruption the opposition says that it has not been abolished but merely taken into the hands of the elite. Transparency International's evaluation of the level of corruption in different countries puts Georgia in 66th to 68th place, alongside Croatia and Kuwait, out of 180 countries. In 2008 Georgia held the same position, but alongside El Salvador and Ghana.

There are some other international evaluations of this country’s performance which could be mentioned here. It is alarming that Georgia is 33rd in the list of unformed countries. This rating was prepared by the US organisation Peace Foundation, and puts Georgia in the same bracket as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Congo, and Afghanistan and so on, the 'Alarming' category. Freedom House says that Georgia is a 'Partly Free' country in terms of democratic development, a rating which taken alongside the ones on economic freedom does suggest that whatever wealth Georgia enjoys it is not producing the development that is supposed to go with it.

The Reporters Without Borders rating, which assesses the level of media freedom in various countries, puts Georgia in 81st place out of 175, although ahead of Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. This is actually a step forward, as in 2008 it was 120th among 173 countries. The UN report on development and mobility puts Georgia 89th of 182 countries, a long way behind the Western European countries it seeks to emulate, and again this calls into question the meaning of the high ratings Georgia enjoys elsewhere, as the social level of the population has not been significantly improved by the economic freedom gains which have been made.

Maybe these indicators are not the best but everything is relative. We can conclude that the Georgian state is slowly crawling in the right direction, but has not yet learned how to walk there.