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20 years of independence

By Messenger Staff
Monday, April 11
20 years have passed since April 9 1991 when Georgia officially announced the restoration of its independence.

Back then, Georgia’s future looked much brighter than it transpired in reality. What were the reasons for that? Difficult conditions or errors made by the politicians and society in general? These are the main questions which disturb Georgian society when it comes to the celebration of significant dates. Some 15 years ago, polling was carried out in Georgia to assess the achievements it had made five years on from regaining independence. Then the biggest achievement was considered to be the abolition of the death penalty. Even today nobody denies the significance of this date. It should be mentioned that at the time 35 prisoners were sentenced to the death penalty and were spared. It should also be noted that since the abolishment of the death penalty, up to 150 people have died in prisons and there are rumoured cases of killings carried out by the police. Many of the achievements which are boasted about by the officials are not just single events but rather a process. For instance, the implementation of huge Trans Caucasian transit projects, establishing friendly partnership relations with the west, the steps taken towards establishing a market economy in the country and the formation and development of free media.

Some progress is happening faster- for instance the Trans Caucasian transportation projects, but in terms of getting closer to the west, some are not that optimistic. For instance, Georgia managed to force Russia to withdraw its military bases from Georgian territory even though soon Russia was occupying and still is occupying 20% of Georgian territory. Many think that Georgia's movement towards NATO and the expression of the country’s population to integrate with the organization is an important step forward. Another cause for optimism is the diminishing of corruption and improvement of criminal situation in the country. Against the background of these achievements there are however some serious shortcomings. First of all, the lost territories, then the very distressing situation of changing the ruling power in a non-democratic manner. As it is known, the ruling power in Georgia has changed twice, first in 1992 and then again in 2003. Both times change did not take place in a democratic manner. In 1992, it was a result of coup de tat and in 2003 there was a revolution.

There are other problems as well. The high rate of unemployment, serious social problems, absence of a solid and sustainable healthcare system, unsolved problems concerning IDPs, absence of a political concept on the demographic situation, serious shortcomings in the direction of rule of law, a general absence of unity of the population and that is not the end of the list.

Most analysts still think that the biggest error committed in the country was coup de tat in 1991-92 and the civil confrontation, which unfortunately created a very dramatic precedent of changing the ruling power illegally, which was eventually followed by the 2003 revolution.

During the past 20 years, the country has always been developing in a volatile way with the coup de tat and revolution and permanent conflicts in Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia which eventually resulted in losing territorial integrity. Russia’s invasion of Georgia, the mass protest rallies and appropriate consequences in 2007-2009 and different types of financial and social problems have also plagues the country. However most of the independent analysts have come to the opinion that the major issue for the country is the absence of the practice of changing our governing system through elections, which gives ground to certain forces in the country to think seriously about yet another revolutionary change. This will eventually destroy the country’s image as a stable country and establish the image of an unstable revolutionary entity. Today the country is approaching the parliamentary and presidential elections, some are still optimistic that the country will manage to conduct elections in a fair way however some forces are actively pursuing revolutionary ideas. What will awaken the country in the coming future, will the ruling power continue the country’s move towards a new Singapore or will it accept the reality of real democracy? Will the elections be held in a genuine form without manipulations? Or will the ruling power abuse the rights of voters and hold unfair elections which might lead to confrontation? Everybody who loves his/her homeland should consider the situation very responsibly. Georgia faces enough of a threat from abroad so the population needs to be consolidated and unite for the sake of the country.