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Georgia’s double identity

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, December 25
Currently Georgia is afflicted with a peculiar problem. Its leaders and would-be leaders suffer from radically different understandings of reality. The administration tries its best to present an optimistic vision of the present and future, while the opposition, mainly the non-Parliamentary variety, accuses it of concealing the truth from the population and not caring about the potentially dangerous consequences.

The position of the authorities is understandable: after the lost war they have to make the people optimistic or take responsibility for the military defeat and lost territories, which would probably mean their removal. At one time the positivist propaganda machine worked so well that almost one quarter of respondents to a poll maintained that Georgia did not lose the August war. A general mood of guarded optimism did indeed secure the leadership for some time. But hopes that NATO would grant MAP, the West will restore our territorial integrity and a multibillion cash flow would come our way were disappointed slowly.

Now a new wave of optimism has been fanned concerning the US – Georgia treaty, which should be signed in near future. The authorities are aggressively promoting this agreement and pinning considerable and clearly exaggerated hopes on it. But as yet we do not even know exactly what the wording of the document is. It may promise Georgia all or nothing. That is why the non-Parliamentary Conservative Party has started demanded that it be published and discussed publicly.

One way the administration tries to generate optimism is to commit itself to undertaking social programmes. This is intended to show that the State cares for its citizens, that with this Government the people have a future. President Saakashvili promotes this idea by behaving as he would do during an election campaign: meeting workers, farmers, national minorities, opening factories, new buildings, etc. However, the economic situation of the country at present gives us little hope of a bright future. It has become rather popular for the authorities to blame present hardships on the world economic crisis. Many shortcomings can be excused by this crisis – it appeared so conveniently! But as the Oriental saying goes, however often you say halva, it won’t get sweeter in your mouth.

The non-Parliamentary opposition considers the Government’s approach not merely a mistake but something dangerous. By turning a blind eye to problems, they don’t disappear. On the contrary, they become more acute and possibly fatal. The opposition thinks the country is in deep crisis, a deadlock. In both domestic and foreign policy, in the economy and other fields of statecraft, frustration and disappointment have been the outcomes Government policy has actually engendered. People no longer trust the Government or anything it says or does, and have become nihilistic.

The country can hardly sit and wait for some positive outcome from political dialogue. Statesmen give bad examples (Givi Targamadze, Koka Guntsadze) by misbehaving on live TV.

With all the shenanigans going on it has passed almost unnoticed December 22 was the 17th anniversary of the day shooting started in front of Parliament, which subsequently led to the overthrow of the first President of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Having seen so much of politicians, no one now wants to be reminded of political events, however important they may be.

The Government’s ostrich position is dangerous for everyone. If we are building a democratic society, as we claim, dialogue between the authorities and the opposition, even the non-Parliamentary one, is absolutely necessary. This dialogue should be constructive so that both sides can be prepared to make concessions for the common good. But we urge all politicians, whatever their position, to be careful. The present crisis has gone beyond politics. Georgia’s very existence is now at stake.