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ICG: West Must Press Georgia to Stop Creeping Authoritarianism

Western friends of Georgia need to apply ?concerted pressure on Saakashvili and his administration to correct their increasingly authoritarian course,? the Brussels-based think-tank, International Crisis Group (ICG), said on December 19.

?The U.S. in particular should make clear it supports democratic principles, not a particular regime,? the group said in its report. ?It is not enough to say that if the elections are free and fair, Georgia will be back on track. Deeper problems relating to the rule of law, corruption, lack of media freedoms, weak checks and balances and growing economic disparities can no longer be overlooked. Genuine reforms and democratic openness are not alternatives but mutually reinforcing necessities.?

Saakashvili called an early presidential election, the report says, in an attempt to restore his democratic credentials, following ?a disproportionate response? to peaceful protests. ?He is expected to win, but a free and fair election will not be enough to repair the damage,? the report adds.

The think-tank called on the United States, the EU and NATO member states ?to apply pressure, including aid conditionality, if there is more backsliding; and increase support to civil society, the public defender and efforts to strengthen media freedom.?

?[Western partners should also] verify rigorously that Georgia is committed to and implementing NATO?s values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and peaceful resolution of disputes before offering a membership action plan (MAP).?

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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