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Georgian president in search of lost image2009-10-16 23:06
While public opinion in the West is losing certainty about Georgia's role as a victim of the Russian aggression following the publication of Tagliavini's commission report, the Georgian president is desperately demonstrating his inimitable charisma of the hospitable Caucasian leader to the foreign journalists.
The showy cordiality is somewhat out of line with the punitive atmosphere the Georgian capital is sunk in with the opposition continually giving ground. "Saakashvili's grand plans don't impress his opponents. They think that he is power-mad", - the Time correspondent Nathan Thornburgh writes in follow-up to his recent visit to Georgia. "Now many opposition figures say, - he informs, - they won't try to force him to resign before his term ends in 2013".
"The weary dissidents and opposition leaders of Tbilisi call it the Show that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili reserves for many visitors», - the journalist writes remarking that for Senator John McCain it meant jet-skiing with Saakashvili and Vice President Joe Biden was treated to a twirling, leaping folk-dance spectacular in Tbilisi. More than a few reporters have been granted late-night interviews on Saakashvili's presidential plane.
Nathan Thornburgh says his visit continued almost a week starting with a ride on Saakashvili's presidential helicopter and a trip to the Abkhazian border and Kakheti. "Saakashvili still has the immense talent for communication that made him an international celebrity when he took power", - Thornburgh remarks.
"With much to prove, Saakashvili gave an unusually robust Show during my visit", - the author writes specifying that the EU commission's report on the causes of the Russian-Georgian war "could possibly damage his great project: convincing the West that Georgia is a reliable military and economic ally".
Amid the global economic downturn it is still more difficult for the president to prove Georgia's attraction for financial inflows to the EU investors. Besides common sense suggests that most projects of the current leader of Georgia are explicitly provocative.
That's why the US journalist describing his extravagant stay in Georgia observes that "the question isn't Saakashvili's charm; it's the quality of his vision for Georgia and whether his allies can trust him to lead his country there. The stakes are high. This tiny country is the rawest point of contact between the rising confidence of Russia and the eastward encroachment of NATO and the EU", - the observer writes.