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Most undesirable motherland2010-03-24 16:29
Last year Georgia became a leader among the world's most undesirable places to live. Over 10 thousand people expressed willingness to leave it. It's a telling characteristic for a country that as President Mikheil Saakashvili believes, has gained full freedom and real democracy, defeated corruption and built up liberal economy. What makes people flee then?
10,994 Georgian citizens applied for refugee status abroad last year. Comparing to 2008, the year of war, it's a 102% growth. This is the highest rate among the world countries, as seen from the report by Department of UN High Commissioner for Refugees published on Tuesday.
Georgia is followed by Africa's Mauritania, Zimbabwe, warring Afghanistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Georgia ranks 10th for the total number of refugees with Russia that outdoes it with its 20,000 people willing to leave the country. But the population of the "northern neighbor" is 35 times larger: 140 mln VS 4 mln people.
Curiously enough, comparing to 2008 the number of Russian refugees slightly decreased.
And the number of emigrating Georgians went up though Georgia constantly points at Russia's deep economic crisis that Georgia luckily avoided despite the war and the loss of territories.
The authorities keep launching free economic zones and new assistance and mutual cooperation treaties with the EU and the USA. TV features opening ceremonies of new enterprises that in reality are old and refitted (at best) or simply renamed. Unemployment rate continues to grow. In 2003 236,000 people were jobless, in 2008 the figure was 316,000. 2009 data are delayed by Georgia's statistical bodies.
Western rating agencies play up to the Georgian authorities focusing on speculative successes - creation of free economic zones, a high living standard and a low level of corruption. However "freedoms" turn out to be accessible only to a very thin layer around the ruling elite. The quality of life is provided by subtropical climate and the sea. Struggle against corruption turns into mass repressions that have resulted in 4-fold increase in the number of prisoners over last 7 years.
In February it was The Whites movement that came forward with this kind of criticism of Saakashvili team's economic "achievements". "Despite accomplished institutional changes and increased budget inflows after 2003 there has been no impressive economic growth some Georgian media and the government are speaking about. Moreover, the situation is alarming now as the analysis of the economic situation in South Caucasus shows". - Business Georgia quotes the party's statement.