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Georgia in need of democratic institutions

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, June 19
Georgia’s Western allies stress the need for the country to build strong democratic institutions. The best way to achieve such a move is by holding fair transparent and democratic elections in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

The current Georgian administration has begun the countdown of history from the Rose Revolution date, highlighting the significance of the revolution and using this date as the beginning of new era. During her recent visit to Georgia, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton paid tribute to the Rose Revolution. However, she highlighted new challenges facing the country. Without addressing these challenges, Georgia's ongoing process of democratic reform will fail.

Several times Secretary Clinton returned to the subject and stressed upon the fact that it is more important to develop strong institutions rather than rely on strong personalities. The personalities come and go whereas the institutions should remain. Politicians, analysts and even ordinary people understand the challenges the country faces. They realize that no leader should dare to put himself above the law or try and attempt to adjust the law according to their needs. It is understandable that it is more important to adjust oneself to the law rather than vice-versa.

Thus far however, Georgia and its leadership are adjusting the constitution for their own interests instead of simply maneuvering around the constitution itself. The Georgian constitution was adopted in 1995, and since then, it has 29 amendments. Of these, 23 amendments were introduced in the Georgian Constitution since the Rose Revolution. Many think that this is outrageous- in particular the latest amendments. One of which permits those with EU citizenship to participate in Georgian elections and which will be valid only for a couple of years. Another amendment that raised eyebrows was one dedicated to the construction of the new city of Lazika located on the Black Sea coast.

Georgia's leadership likes to compare themselves with the world's leading countries. For the sake of comparison, the US constitution was created 225 years ago and there have been only 27 amendments since then. Despite the claims that Georgia is building a democratic state, many analysts agree that the country is attached more securely to strong charismatic individuals rather than building democratic institutions. Despite the fact that President Saakashvili’s second term of office expires at the end of 2013, the leading United National Movement wants him to be in power either as PM or as chair of the parliament. So, the forthcoming parliamentary election in Georgia will represent a litmus test for how well the nation is prepared to deal with the most important challenges... Challenges that can be met by holding democratic elections.