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The News in Brief

Tuesday, September 23
Forbes: Mikheil Saakashvili Doesn't Know What Democracy Is

Forbes has published an article entitled: “Mikheil Saakashvili Doesn't Know What Democracy Is”

“The New York Times just published a positively fascinating profile of Georgia’s ex-president, Mikheil Saakashvili. In what reads like an excerpt from a Gary Shteyngart novel, we see how Saakashvili, freed from the shackles of power and responsibility, spends his days riding his bike to and fro around Williamsburg, frequenting hipster cafes and bars that one does not usually associate with former heads of state.

The profile would have been worthwhile had it only conveyed a little bit of the strange world of idleness and wealth that is today’s Williamsburg. But it does quite a lot more. Jason Horowitz, the article’s author, got Misha to go on the record with some of his political views, and it’s an eye-opening revelation:

“I used to look at this place from Manhattan, it was such a pity, it was mafia, a place where hit men dump bodies,” he said, recalling his time in the 1990s as a Columbia University Law School student. Now he sees “a jazzy atmosphere” rife with energy and new construction.

“Williamsburg is part of the democratic transformation,” he said.

This borders on caricature. Many of Saakashvili’s critics have long noted that he tends to use “democracy” not as a description of specific political systems in which high office holders are freely elected by the public, but as a catch-all term that translates roughly to “things that I like.” By explicitly equating gentrification with democracy building, Saakashvili has removed any lingering doubts: he simply does not understand what democracy actually is.

The transformation of Williamsburg, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with “democratic transformations.” The neighborhood was part of a democratic political system when it was poor. It remains part of a democratic political system now that it is wealthy. The changes of the past fifteen years are laudable enough, but if you try to link them to any modification of New York city’s electoral laws, or to any other reforms of the American political system, you will search in vain. Williamsburg’s transformation is the result of a complicated interplay of demographic and market forces, not “people power” or any grand ideological crusade.

Saakashvili is one of the rock stars of the democracy promotion industry, and he has close relationships with several of the highest-profile members of the “democracy solves everything” caucus, people like John McCain and Victoria Nuland. He’s written widely on the supreme importance of democracy and on America’s duty to spread it around the world in many of the country’s highest-profile and most widely read publications. It’s noteworthy, and more than a little bit ironic, that in reality Saakashvili has such a tenuous grasp of the concept to which he is so devoted.

Democracy is a wonderful solution if the problem being solved is an excessive concentration of political power. But democracy, as such, has very little, if any, impact on real estate markets or the prevalence of high-end coffee shops. Advocates of democracy promotion would be well advised learn from Saakashvili as he has provided a perfect example of how to not talk about the issue. To put it simply: if, like Saakashvili, you refer to your favorite restaurant as “democratic” you need to crack open a dictionary and become reacquainted with what democracy really means”, the article says.

President leaves for Adjara

President Giorgi Margvelashvili has left for Georgia’s Adjara region. According to the President’s press service, Margvelashvili will visit the region damaged by the 20-21 September bad weather and flood.

‘The President will study the aftermath of bad weather on the ground’, the press service says.

Days of heavy rain created many problems in Adjara.

UNM releases statement on latest rise in crime in Georgia

The United National Movement expresses its concerns about the increase in crime and the control of the situation by convicts in Georgia`s prisons. MP Irma Nadirashvili introduced the statement of the party to the media today.

She said the parliamentary minority was urging the government to look into the situation in prisons and start an investigation of the facts reported by one of the analytical talk shows, which prove that the prison administration has lost control. She also said the prime minister, as well as the whole government is unable to provide security in the country.

Irma Nadirashvili reiterated that the UNM was still urging the Minister of Interior Aleksandre Chikaidze to attend the UNM meeting at the parliament and answer regarding the alarming criminal situation in Georgia.

Maia Panjikidze to hold meetings within the framework of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze will take part in the events, which are held within the framework of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly.

As Panjikidze told journalists in New York, she would hold more than 60 bilateral and multilateral meetings within the framework of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly.

Maia Panjikidze will hold bilateral meetings with her counterparts. In addition, the Georgian Foreign Minister will meet with President of the 69th session of the Assembly, Sam Kahamba Kutesa; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad and Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Hugo Hans Siblesz.

Within the framework of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly a ceremony for the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty will be held at the United Nations headquarters in New York.