Georgia's Path to Freedom

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 5, 2007 | Go to article overview

Georgia's Path to Freedom


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In her recent commentary "Post-Revolution wilt" (Tuesday), Anna Dolidze focuses on a leaky roof in a Tbilisi airport, which by the way, replaced an old Soviet-style building and is an example of successful foreign investment. She claims that, like the airport roof, the U.S. policy of aid to Georgia is "full of holes" and that it enables authoritarian excess rather than promoting democracy. Unfortunately, Miss Dolidze's analogy misses the bigger picture; her points are so misleading with most of the presented facts false that one might think the author speaks of another country.

When the current administration, led by President Mikhail Saakashvili, took office three years ago as a result of the Rose Revolution, it inherited an unfathomable legacy of corruption, criminal influence, state weakness and impunity.

Were it not for the assistance of the United States and other countries, Georgia's sweeping political and economic transformation might not have been possible. And while the path to true democracy is neither quick nor easy, the government of Georgia with the support of its citizens has made remarkable and genuine progress.

Just this past year, the World Bank named Georgia the top reformer in the world; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development identified Georgia as the least corrupt transitional economy; and Freedom House called Georgia one of only a few "bright spots" for liberty amid regression elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. Such accolades are not accidental; they reflect hard work and political resolve.

Georgia values its pluralistic media, where opposing views, including those of harsh government critics, thrive, protected by one of the most liberal legislatures in Europe. Last November Georgian voters overwhelmingly supported the government's reform agenda on elections recognized as free and fair not only by Western observers, but also by the government's critics.

A remarkable reduction of corruption and improvement of business climate has resulted in nearly 10 percent economic growth for third consecutive year, the doubling of direct foreign investment in 2006 and a reduction of poverty despite the ongoing economic blockade from Russia.

Introduction of standardized national university admissions exam eliminated rampant corruption in higher education. …

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