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Interpreting Obama

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, February 2
In Georgia, the major expectation for the Obama-Saakashvili meeting was a clear statement from the U.S. President that his administration would not tolerate any attempts to fix the upcoming elections. While he did acknowledge that he is looking forward to seeing Georgia's democracy in action, he did not publicly demand a free and fair election from Saakashvili, instead giving over his time to praising how far Georgia has come in eight years. This has given critics of Saakashvili's government little to hold on to.

The obsession in Georgia is now the phrase "formal transfer of power." Some members of the opposition believe this means that Obama believes that power should be transferred to some new political force. Davit Berdzenishvili, one of the leaders of Georgia's Republican Party, even played armchair psychologist by noting Saakashvili's body language as Obama was speaking, claiming that stopped nodding in agreement once Obama began to speak about transfer of power.

Government MPs have explained that Obama meant official transfer, as in, his belief in the possibility that another party could achieve majority status in parliament, causing Saakashvili's administration to step down. This scenario, according to them, does not necessarily mean the coming to power of a radically new political force, but merely a change in administration through accepted democratic means.

Regardless of what opposition members claim to know, Saakashvili has affirmed his commitment to democracy many times. In his meeting with Obama, he noted that after the elections Georgia will have more a pluralistic political scene, and acknowledged that in 2013 the country will have a new president. There is little to be interpreted from that.

Perhaps this obsession over minor details is a sign that Georgia truly has become a democratic state.