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19 years of independence

By Messenger Staff
Friday, April 2
On March 31, 1991 an absolute majority of the Georgian population voted for the restoration of Georgia’s independence. Just week later on April 9 the Supreme Council of Georgia, which consisted almost entirely of representatives of the National Liberation Movement, declared the restoration of Georgia’s independence. The Georgian population was full of enthusiasm and hope for a happy future. The reality was much tougher, but in spite of hardships the Georgian people have never regretted the path taken.

Current political events inside and outside the country have not left time to pay enough attention to this date, however it is very important to assess the past nineteen years objectively and to concentrate on the errors committed. For some time in the nineties of the last century Georgia was an example of what not to do. As political errors are committed by politicians, we can assume that Georgia was unlucky in not having the right politicians to navigate country to real independence and democracy.

We can say that there have been three waves of political leadership in Georgia. The first and shortest was lead by politicians who came to power under the leadership of Zviad Gamsakhurdia. They led the country for just about a year but were inexperienced. They did not know how to build anything. They were good at creating obstacles for the Soviet system but no good at taking anything forward. Most of the problems Georgia has today are rooted in that leadership in particular: military confrontation in the separatist-oriented regions, encouraged by Russia, internal confrontations between supporters of the regime and opponents and many more.

The second wave of politicians was connected with the name of Eduard Shevardnadze, former Communist leader of Georgia and the Soviet Union. In fact he brought back to power the old Communist nomenclature. He himself did not know what real democracy or the market economy were but he had intuition, and he tried to promote a young generation of reformists who could have been his grandchildren. He thought that by the time he chose to resign these new reformers would be mature enough to govern the country, however the young did not want to wait. They overthrew Shevardnadze and came to power through the Rose Revolution.

In the beginning the Georgian people and the West overestimated this third wave of politicians in their enthusiasm. Of course it is difficult to give a final assessment to these politicians as they are still in power, but if we make a general assessment of their achievements and errors the picture it presents will not be a very encouraging one, unfortunately. One fifth of Georgian territory is lost, there is abject poverty in the country, there are faults in the conducting of democratic elections, there is no independent court, we have many cases of human rights abuses. There are some positives which can be cited, such as the low level of corruption, roads being repaired and the people receiving almost continuous gas and electricity supplies, but if you ask an ordinary Georgian they will prefer to have country’s territory back rather than an electricity supply.

In conclusion the current situation does not give much ground for optimism. Is this the politicians' fault, Georgia's, someone else's or a combination of all three?