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Tbilisi: why they failed2011-09-06 14:11
Presidential elections in Abkhazia were condemned by the entire international community, though such reaction was not at all surprising. Only the New York Times publication went contrary to the public opinion, written by Professor of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University Lincoln Mitchell and another scientist, Alexander Cooley, who criticized traditional attitude towards Abkhazia. What could make these two renowned experts say things that are contradictory to the States' fundamental policy?
American experts give quite an optimistic description of the presidential elections in Abkhazia, involuntarily comparing them with those in Georgia. Their words must sound painful for the patriots of this country, for the level of political competition and organization of the Abkhaz election is significantly higher than that of the Georgian one.
The world will inevitably compare Abkhazia and Georgia. If the economic, political and social development level indicators in the former autonomy are worse than those in the former metropolis, it will become a sufficient reason to say: "Look at them, guys - you'll have the same if you come back". But no one will know what to say if Abkhazia gains the lead. That's what happened after the elections.
There is no data on Abkhazia and Georgia's economic indicators comparison, so one can endlessly argue about which of these countries has got higher standards of living. Presidential elections, though, cleared up many questions about the public and political institutions development level in the country.
One of these days, the public got acquainted with the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Bass' stern criticism of the Georgian government revealed by Wikileaks. He disapproved of the authoritarian regime's triumph, having set forth his theses in a secret message. Now it turns out that political processes in Abkhazia, which has never had any international support, are visibly more democratic than in Georgia, where the political system reformation required hundreds of millions of dollars and within many years, the best western minds have been trying to make the local field more civilized.
Of course, these free presidential elections in Abkhazia are a serious contribution to the future international recognition. Except for a large group of independent authors in the West, no one will venture to make public assessments of the "illegitimate" elections; at the same time, no one will have heart to say anything negative about them.
Why has the level of political freedom in Abkhazia got much ahead of that in Georgia?
First, there are natural reasons. Contrary to the popular opinion of most European and American analysts, Georgia and Abkhazia are no single social space, the social culture of these two countries differing much from each other. Accordingly, they've got totally different political systems. Abkhazia's success in democracy building is primarily attributed to small population and very close contacts between people. Most of Saakashvili's authoritarian experiments could not be basically held in Abkhazia, which is often called "a country of friends and relatives".
The Abkhaz leader and political elite in general are not just a group of people but are part of the society. They are not isolated by the walls of governmental buildings but have to live among local residents, communicating with common people. Accordingly, the elite have nowhere to escape from the people's wrath if the people are reprised like they are in Georgia.