29 September, 2011

‘A step forward’ to European democracy

After the three-month epopee tax inspection in ‘MediaPalitra ’ has halted temporarily. That is, it hasn’t ended, it just stopped. It’s interesting that according to legislation tax inspection can be interrupted provisionally in case of force majeure.

As it seems, the force majeure in this case was the support of the U.S. and other Western countries’ Embassies and what’s more – active involvement of public. The law indicates also that ‘as soon as the force

majeure ends the inspection must continue’. We hope that neither foreign diplomats nor public will lose their interest with regard to freedom of speech in Georgia… With Vladimir Papava, an economic expert we discussed in details last week’s important events.

Q. – Georgia is among the countries where either there is no middle class or the number of such people is small. This is mentioned in the review of the Center of Economic Policy and the 2011( first –half) research of Georgian economy by ‘Open Society-Georgia’. What does this tendency indicate?
L.P. – Middle class isn’t being formed in Georgia. Unfortunately there are many reasons. For instance, there is serious polarization in our society. We have a scanty layer of rich people and a big number of poor. Middle class is a rather independent layer and it doesn’t suit the ruling elite, prone to the authoritarian governing. It’s much easier to rule over the poor who are always ready to fulfill the wishes of authorities in return for several coins. As for the very rich, in authoritarian countries they are associated with the authorities and consequently their control makes no problem – they will always back the powers that be in order to retain their wealth. So, the research has shown a real picture.
Q. – Tuvalu - one more tiny country joined the small number of those states that ‘recognize’ independence of Abkhazia. Up till now the Georgian people accepts the process of recognition by exotic countries with mockery, but isn’t there a threat that this process may become irreversible even at the expense of financial incentives and odious rulers of Russia?
L.P. – Recognition of Abkhazia by Tuvalu can be assessed as failure of Georgian diplomacy because not long ago our Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed us about the establishment of diplomatic relations with this country. Several months after this we see that Tuvalu, having diplomatic relations with Georgia at the same time recognizes the territories occupied by Russia as independent states.
Russia will keep trying to persuade other countries to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It doesn’t conceal its perfidious plans regarding these territories. If you remember Putin even declared that it’s up to South Ossetia to decide whether to join Russia or not.
In one of the interviews of 2008 I said exactly this – very soon, first in South Ossetia and later in Abkhazia pseudo referen dums would be held and the local population would quickly express their big desire to join Russia. These small recognitions are the steps necessary for Russia to swallow Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Today we only have the guarantee that the USA, EU and civilized world support us. The more protracted in time are these conflicts the worse will be the future…
Q. – As it’s known the authorities have already sent the new bill of Election Code to the Venice Commission. In general, what are the prospects of improving the election environment in the country by amending the legislation – this issue being discussed for such a long time?
L.P. Actually there is no real prospect. Even more, I said that the country is on the wrong track because the people’s voice that has to reach the authorities is of utmost importance but still there is nobody who would hear this voice.
A simple prognosis can be made in advance: very few, insignificant comments will come from the Venice Commission and they will (or won’t) be considered. Nothing will be changed even if they are not considered. Despite everything the Venice Commission will say that it’s a step forward to European democracy. So, the ‘National Movement’ knows this technology quite well – they are well-versed in this sphere and consequently we shouldn’t expect big and drastic changes.
Q. – When speaking from the UN rostrum Mikheil Saakashvili declared that freedom and democracy still remained our best weapon against extremism. Later it was also said that the President quite conveniently included Georgian topic into the political issues by mentioning freedom and democracy against the struggle with extremism and terrorism. Generally, how seriously were these words taken on the background that most of the claims against Georgian authorities are connected with neglect of democracy?
L.P. – It’s strange; the authorities that don’t retreat before extremism with regard to its own people speak about freedom and democracy at the UN. Is it necessary to beat people? – The people are extremely heavily beaten. Are the people on strike asking for elementary working conditions and rise of salary? – They are raided, dispersed, arrested…
Any soberly thinking person will tell you that all this is the expression of extremism in our country. But you shouldn’t forget that our political elite have studied rather well the people whom they address with speeches. For instance, when in the UN or generally in the West they must speak as democrats, supporters of freedom of speech – such words are pleasant for the ear. When they come to Georgia they must speak about the people who are - to be arrested, good for nothing, to be punished… Unfortunately our western partners and friends can’t or don’t differentiate words from deeds. They just derive pleasure from such articulation paying no attention to what’s really going on in the country.


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