In an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Georgia’s PM Bidzina Ivanishvili says the country under his government is “on the right track” but it needs “stronger international support” to “defy our skeptics” as Georgia heads towards the presidential election in late October and EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in late November.
The Georgian PM said that his government pursues “pragmatic policies and concrete reforms on the path to the country’s modernization and full democracy.”
He says that despite “the clear progress” his government “is under fire from those who should be allies in our quest for trans-Atlantic integration.”
“Vocal minorities in Europe and the United States – many of whom ignored years of official reports of past abuses – have misguidedly attacked the arrests of former government officials as antidemocratic,” PM Ivanishvili says. “Pushing Georgia away at such a critical point in our history would be short-sighted and potentially destabilizing for a small country in a very dangerous neighborhood. I ask that our critics look at the facts: We are following internationally supervised due process. We also invite international monitors to oversee the trials of these former officials, and to supervise the upcoming presidential election, in October.”
He said that since coming into government, “citizens have filed some 20,000 complaints against former government officials.”
“Our justice system is carefully investigating these cases, following due process with the help and watchful eyes of EU human rights envoy Thomas Hammarberg, the U.S. Justice and State Departments, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and numerous international NGOs.”
In the opinion piece PM Ivanishvili also says that his “pragmatic” policy, specifically in relations with Russia, means “ending the Cold War rhetoric and avoiding the irresponsible actions that led us into the 2008 conflict.”
He welcomes reopening of Russian market for the Georgian products as “a confidence-building measure” and also stresses that Georgia remains “firm on the return of Russian-occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” He says that this issue should be handled “in compliance with the principles of international law, which will require active engagement from international organizations and from our Western partners.”
Ivanishvili says that commitment to Georgia’s international responsibilities and keeping troops in the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan, despite of tragic losses, was also part of the “pragmatic” policy.
He says that pursuing “concrete” reforms means focusing on democracy and “following through on what the 2003 Rose Revolution failed to do.” He says that Georgia still needs “constitutional reform that better distributes power between the branches of government.”
On economy, PM Ivanishvili says that “revitalizing the agriculture sector, creating a fair tax system, and eliminating political pressure on and extortion of private businesses” was the focus of his government’s “concrete” reforms.