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Shevardnadze’s legacy

By Messenger Staff
Monday, January 28
Ex President of Georgia and former member of the Communist politburo and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze turned 85 years-old. Although he served as number one in command in Georgia for many years, no politician from the country’s current leadership or from the opposition has congratulated him on his 85th birthday. Perhaps this was simply his destiny? However, it should be noted that Shevardnadze was not the worst of Georgia’s post-Soviet leaders.

Eduard Shevardnadze was the leader of the communist party of Georgia from 1972-1985. From 1985-1990, he was the foreign minister of the Soviet Union, while from 1992-2003 he served as Georgia’s leader.

Shevardnadze was a controversial figure and his career was evaluated differently by different people. For instance, his successor– President Mikheil Saakashvili– always presented Shevardnadze in a negative light, frequently using him synonymously with a “failed country.”

Georgia’s fate during the post-Soviet period was very hard. After regaining independence in 1991, confrontation in the country began and resulted in the ousting of the first Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia from office and the establishment of a military council that governed the country for some period.

In March 1992, Shevardnadze returned to Georgia; there was chaos in the country: no economy, no law and order, no local currency, no industry. Although Shevardnadze did not have any personal experience in governing a democratic country, he possessed great intuition and thus he began building a civil society in the country. He used his personal contacts which were established during his time at the Soviet foreign ministry and in 1995 Georgia adopted a new constitution.

During his time in office the country was accepted into the United Nations as a full member and all the countries recognized Georgia’s independence. Georgia received and established its own national currency called the Lari. Paramilitary leaders, former members of the military council Jaba Ioseliani and Tengiz Kitovani were removed from their positions and later arrested. vIn 1999 Georgia managed to sign an agreement with Russia which considered the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgian territory. Georgia applied for NATO membership. Behind Shevardnadze’s efforts, Georgia appeared to take a significant role in energy transportation from the Caspian Sea basin to the west and to Europe and the Baku-Tbilisi-Supsa pipeline began functioning. Construction on the Baku-Tbilisi-Cehan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzrum natural gas pipeline also got underway.

However, corruption, failure in the rule of law and other sins were present, but it was the heavy heritage of the Soviet past. In 2003, Shevardnadze was forcefully removed from the presidency and he resigned. He was challenged by the same young men Zurab Zhvania, Nino Burjanadze, Mikheil Saakashvili and others whom he had promoted himself.

Today Shevardnadze resides far from the politic spotlight, although he attentively follows Georgian politics and from time to time shares his opinion. He is the ultimate supporter of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s policy, although gives his opinion about his activities.