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Georgia and post soviet space

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, August 16
In determining the current situation in the country and its future prospects, the ruling authorities and opposition in Georgia are offering radically different conclusions. The ruling authorities claim that since the rose revolution Georgia has developed as a democratic country, pointing to some serious achievements in implementing reforms and the country's steps towards integration in the European structures. The opposition meanwhile challenges such an assertion and claims that Georgia has become an authoritarian or even a totalitarian country and is not moving in a democratic direction at all. The opposition thinks that 2012 should become a turning point for the country’s development and thus targets changing of the existing administration in the country. The interesting question appears to be: Just how democratic is Georgia? How realistic is it that the removal of the current administration can be achieved through elections? These questions becomes even more important when you consider that since the Soviet Union collapsed, the governance in Georgia has never changed through democratic elections.

Since restoring its independence at the end of the 20th century, Georgia and the other former Soviet republics went through a “transitional period”. Everybody hoped then that this transition from a soviet system into a democratic one would happen quickly and smoothly. But the reality proved to be different. Out of 15 soviet republics the most fortunate were the Baltic republics: Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. The west handed them unprecedented assistance. To limit threat from Russia on them, the west very quickly helped to integrate them into the western world, culminating in membership of NATO and EU. So these three entities managed to free themselves from the soviet period fairly quickly.

The wish to integrate instead to the post soviet structures was mixed in the former soviet states and Georgia was particularly against uniting with any sort of Russian lead confederation. As a result, Georgia was under great pressure from the Russian side and suffered great losses. Two of its territories were slipped out of Georgian control, after pressure from Russia. Eventually Georgia appeared to integrate into the CIS which was an amalgamation artificially created by Russia to keep control over the post soviet space. The possibility to escape from this organisation arrived with the so called rose revolution. Georgia was not alone in this attempt. The so called colour revolutions followed. The goal of these revolutions was moving openly in a western direction, accelerating their integration with the west. As a result two revolutions were successful in Georgia and Ukraine however we could not say that these revolutions ultimately managed to fulfill their goals completely. Neither Ukraine nor Georgia managed to become a fully fledged member of the western world. In Ukraine the achievements of the so called orange revolution were reversed and dismantled.

The situation in Georgia meanwhile is quite obscure. It has problems exactly for its wish to go west. It has withdrawn from the post soviet artificial amalgamation – CIS, however its prospects to integrate with western system are pretty vague. Moreover as the Georgian opposition claims, the attempt of the Georgian authorities to move the country towards a Singapore model means abandoning the proclaimed western orientation and moving into an unknown direction.

Currently the country's so called rose administration and its leadership claims that Georgia has similar democratic governance to western countries. They boast of certain reforms and successes in this direction, comparing the country’s achievements to those shortcomings characteristic to other post soviet states, particularly Russia.

Controversially, as some Georgian analysts suggest, the US policy of reset indirectly meant refusal of the west to support the colour revolution principles. The Georgian example proved that democracy and the creation of the system where would govern the rule of law had not been met. Despite certain achievements in comparing other post soviet countries, there is still a serious influence from the post soviet system. In countries where Russia still has huge influence, authoritarian regimes thrive, not democracy. Now many local analysts suggest the chances of changing the ruling authorities through elections are very limited in Georgia much like in Russia, Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan.