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Assessing the Rose Revolution Eight Years On

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 24
Eight years have passed since the Rose Revolution. Assessments regarding this date differ. There are those who think that during these eight years Georgia has broken out into bloom and grown as beautiful as a rose, there are also those who are sure that the revolution's outcomes have been ephemeral, and that despite definite progress or successful reforms, the current authorities reproduced more thorns than roses.

The date, which coincides with St George’s day, has been loudly celebrated by the government. As President Mikheil Saakashvili has underlined: “the Rose Revolution promoted greatest order in the country.” According to him, a lot of successful reforms have been carried out during the period bringing the country equal to European states.

The aspiration is shared by Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, who opened one more police building on the day, Wednesday. He has underlined police reform as one of the most successful carried out and mentioned that, "paying attention to certain successful reforms is not right, as without complex changes in the state, certain reforms would not be successful." Merabishvili also added that “after the Rose Revolution the state moved into a totally new epoch," in which standards of living are absolutely different from those before the revolution.

The authorities did not forget also those criticizing the authorities, labelling them mainly as “Russian stooges“ wanting to push Georgia back to that “dark and dirty period“ before the Rose Revolution. However, according to majority MP Zurab Melikishvili the "Revolution has not concluded, it is still ongoing and will end when there are no poor people and when all reforms are complete."

The achievements of the revolution have been explained differently by the opposition representatives on the anniversary. They claim that there have been some positive achievements, but the government also has many failures to its name. According to the leader of the Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania, the Rose Revolution had a very positive start, with a negative continuation: "much positive has been done regarding infrastructural projects, the main [failure] is that democratic institutions have not been launched and developed in the state, there is a single party ruling system." Alasania added that those failures of the government could only be remedied by a change of power.

“Self-indulgence“ was the term Republican leader Davit Usupashvili used regarding the current government in estimating those eight years. According to him, Saakashvili and his team had a great opportunity to become one of the most appreciated forces in the country, as the Rose Revolution gave them a lot of opportunities, "however they spent up such opportunities and engaged in self-indulgence." He has also underlined sardonically that the “main merit“ of the government had been to impose hard economic conditions on the population, lost territories, and the curtailing of development of democratic institutions.

The New Rights think that the revolution was needed and it brought definite achievements, however mistakes have been made from the beginning. "There was a need for a multi-party parliament, which has not happened, alongside other positives such as infrastructural changes, improvement in provision of electricity and so on. The authorities could not have avoided the August war and Georgia was significantly disturbed on its path to NATO,“ Manana Nachkebia, from the party, said.

However, the Labour Party managed to diverge from both the assessment of the authorities and the opposition in discussing the revolution. The party, which is quite famous for its bizarre political forecasts and conspiracy theories underlined that a “Rose Revolution 2“ is being planned. According to the party, “Rose Revolution 1, which was planned from the outside by George Soros and from the inside by [Georgian billionaire Bidzina] Ivanishvili eight years ago, lost its influence and the Americans are preparing an alternative one.”

More cons than pros – this is the common assessment of the majority of Georgian analysts eight years on from the revolution. Ramaz Sakvarelidze says that the Rose Revolution significantly changed the state, and the process has become more dynamic and important changes have been carried out in the anti-corruption field, in the foreign policy arena, in the police system and so on. "One of the reasons for such changes is the fact that young and obstinate people came to power, however the same has become a reason for mistakes, including the 2008 war," he said. A lot of issues were “inadequately and incompetently solved, which created serious problems in politics and economics and negated all the positives they had done."

According to fellow analyst, Mamuka Areshidze, Saakashvili and his team diverged from the path they had chosen from the beginning, "step by step, democratic power moved to authoritarianism." However, according to him, the term that the authorities have currently served is too long. "I think that free elections should be held, without any falsification," he said.