Healthy Criticism from Carnegie Foundation
07 July, 2011
Healthy Criticism from Carnegie Foundation

Paper by Thomas De Waal receives differing feedbacks in Georgia

In the opinion of Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment, specializing primarily in the South Caucasus region, “if Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili leaves, it would be a healthy event.” Yet, he assumes processes in Georgia are heading for completely different direction. He talked about it at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies. There Thomas De Waal presented his work “Georgia’s

Choice: Picture Developed in Changing Circumstances” to the audience of experts and received quite positive reactions. Yet, questions and critical assessments were numerous.

In his paper, Thomas De Waal analyzes current situation in Georgia from both economical and political angles. He criticizes the Authorities in the areas such as protection of private property, European integration. He disapproves the Georgian Government for pursuing so called Singapore model, contrary to any logic.

The paper clearly shows that despite being a reformer country, Georgia stands next to the last country in the list of post-Soviet states arranged by GDP per capita. It names three alternative models for the Georgian future. The first model is that of self-isolation and principal non-acceptance of experience, the second one represents a libertarian method enshrined in the so called Singapore model, while the last one is integration with Europe.

De Waal’s work scrutinizes the efforts of Georgian Authorities to prolong its hold on power by forming a one-party system in the country and on PR technologies and constitutional changes which solidify the basis for a one-party system. The paper tackles every topic that is well-known in Georgia.

Experts place immense significance on the fact that the research belongs to a foreigner. They point out that Waal elucidates all the complexities which characterize Georgian economy. Some experts think that the paper should serve as a wakeup call for the Authorities and our international friends.

Interestingly, expert Giorgi Khoshtaria sees the Waal’s words of criticism towards the Georgian Government as mild. He claims that Waal is more versed in the Caucasian region as a whole than in Georgia specifically. Khoshtaria disagrees with certain predictions made by the paper. On the other hand, he agrees with many economic sentiments of Waal.

“These are diplomatic assessments. I think he could have made braver and more realistic conclusions. I hope he will pay more attention to it in the next studies,” – said Khoshtaria.

Thomas De Waal warns that formation of a one-party system in Georgia may prove to be lethal for the country. That is why he makes a recommendation that the accent must go to the strengthening of the opposition and development of a multi-party system. Finally, Thomas De Waal reproaches the Authorities for non-existence of free media and their heavy hand on TV companies. Accordingly, he analyzes possible consequences.

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