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Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Three Georgian English teachers were passionately talking politics during a coffee break. Saakashvili had to go, they said. And as usual, I asked who should replace him.

"Alasania," one teacher said.

"And what has he proposed?" I asked.

She answered by explaining what was wrong with Saakashvili.

"So if suddenly Saakashvili disappeared, everything would be fine?"

"We'd have elections," she responded.

"And if Alasania wins, two years later everyone will come out on the streets and demand his head because he didn't deliver. Don't you think this pattern should end? Everybody talks about democracy but you Georgians cannot let an elected official finish his term. Your opposition should be working on developing legitimate platforms and then challenging the ruling party at the next elections."

The English teacher responded by telling me that this isn't the United States with a long history of democracy and that Saakashvili hasn't repented for his sins and continues to sin.

I understand her anger but Saakashvili's disappearence and new elections are not going to improve the country until a viable alternative exists. This stuff takes time. Three years ago there was no opposition to speak of. Today there is a hysterical, misguided group of rabble rousers. This is progress.

Across the border in Azerbaijan, there is no opposition. The Azeri government routinely intimidates, jails, and even murders, anyone that opposes it. The president abolished term limits, giving himself a life-long job, which Aliev will inevitably pass on to his son, like is dad did before him. Meanwhile, in Armenia, the electoral process is a total farce (a good story about it here, in IWPR). Neither of these countries would tolerate an hour of the kind of civil disobedience Tbilisi has allowed for 2 months.

I asked the English teacher if she remembered how rosy things were before 2004, when there was virtually no difference between the 3 South Caucasus nations, but the coffee break was over and we had to get back to work.


Zurab said...

Excellent piece! Simple and accurate presentation of what that is all about in Georgia

Anonymous said...

"Across the border in Azerbaijan, there is no opposition" - should it make us happier? :)

Anonymous said...

'Another Look at the August War'
January 21, 2009

"the belief that President Saakashvili had been already dealt a mortal blow and would fail as a result of internal dissent was another reason the Russians thought they could achieve their objective even without taking Tbilisi. They probably still even believe that to be the case. "

"Why then Georgia? And why did you need to have a war? There are several reasons.
Aside from personal reasons such as the deep hatred that exists between Putin and President Saakashvili of Georgia, which we all know about, one of the reasons is that
everything else failed. Russia had basically been throwing everything it had, including the kitchen sink, to use Hillary Clinton’s expression, at Georgia. But it had failed to achieve any type of change in the foreign policy behavior of the Georgian government."

"Certainly, one of the purposes was
the deposing of the Georgian president. It was political and economic regime change
in Georgia
. But they were probably not the only goals."

"Georgia has been hailed as a beacon of democracy in this volatile region. Our record has not been impeccable—a “shining city on the hill” cannot be built overnight. But each day, we are pursuing ways to strengthen our democratic institutions."

Интернет-Утречко! said...

интересный блог

Bob said...

I've had virtually the same conversation with Georgian friends scores of times. The lack of a frame of reference for democracy is a definate problem.