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USA the guarantor of Georgia’s economic development

By Messenger Staff
Friday, November 20
Some days ago, Georgia was visited by a delegation led by the US Assistant Secretary of State on Democracy, Human Rights and Labor issues Michael Posner. The delegation held the meetings with state officials, civil society representatives and opposition members. Different issues were discussed but we know that the election environment, freedom of the media and trust in the court system were raised.

This was a very important and significant visit. It was conducted within the framework of the charter concluded between the US and Georgia right at the beginning of this year. Many Georgians have pinned their hopes on the implementation of different paragraphs in this charter. The further development of the situation in Georgia depends very much on how democratic Georgia will conduct itself. How good the USA’s image in Georgia is will also depend on how effectively it helps Tbilisi rebuild the country after the Russian aggression of last year. Some people in Georgia are frustrated because they very naively thought that the USA would take an active part in resisting the aggressor.

The US delegation itself chose the groups of people from NGOs and the opposition it would meet with, the Georgian media reports. Therefore it is pursuing an agenda as much as listening. It should be noted that not all the opposition are unanimously Western oriented. Some resist further moves towards the West, so the USA and Western countries in general will communicate with those who openly support Georgia’s Western orientation and the values that go with that. The Georgian authorities have stated several times that new waves of democracy are necessary, though this may only be a form of words. They have undertaken certain commitments in this direction, both before and since the charter of co-operation with the USA was signed. But in fact the administration is taking steps which are rather controversial and are creating a sense of doubt in how genuinely the authorities are committed to the democracy they proclaim.

The opposition insist that the administration should take more radical and realistic steps to grant the courts, the media, and in particular the TV stations real independence. It also demands that the law enforcement bodies and the police in particular should be depoliticised and that amendments should be made in the election code which would guarantee unbiased, genuine and true elections. After the delegation’s meeting with representatives of the opposition both sides expressed their satisfaction. It was mentioned that the US has enough means to influence the process of conducting elections in Georgia and should therefore make sure that the next ones, the local elections which according to President Saakashvili will be held on May 30, 2010, are free and fair. However Parliament has not so far confirmed that the elections will be held on this date, if at all, although it has been several weeks since the President said they would be, and this is further indirect proof that the words and actions of the authorities deviate.

This is not the only example of deeds not matching words in official circles. Officials recently decided to hold direct Mayoral elections only in the capital Tbilisi, whereas initially President Saakashvili declared that these would be held in all the major cities of Georgia. In a sense, therefore, the elections are already being manipulated.

When they do eventually happen the elections will be a great test for both the authorities and Georgia’s allies in the West, particularly the USA. There is a great public demand for fair elections. If they are manipulated by the authorities, and the Western countries are not perceived to have done enough to stop this, the already sceptical instincts of the population could be channelled in a different direction. You guess in which.