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On Shevarnadze’s role in history of Georgia25.01.2010 | 17:22
Today, January 25, is the 82th birthday of Georgia's political long-liver - Edward Amvrosievich Shevarnadze. No doubt it's hard to overestimate the contribution USSR FM and leader of independent Georgia made in world politics and the life of his native land. GeorgiaTimes correspondent is discussing Shevarnadze's role in modern history with Russian and Georgian politologists and experts.
Valery Khomyakov, director general of National Strategy Council
Shevarnadze played an important political role not only in the history of Georgia but in the history of the USSR too. He did a lot for foreign policy as Foreign Minister. Speaking about him as president the situation in Georgia after Gamsakhurdia was complicated but Shevarnadze managed to stabilize relations between Tbilisi and Moscow due to his friendship with Boris Eltsin. Personal factor played a positive role here.
It seems Shevarnadze lost his grip at the end of his rule. Probably he tried to monopolize power which led to the advent of other forces. It should be remarked Shevarnadze was not a pro-US politician, as he is claimed to be now, he advocated interests of Georgian people. It is true he made mistakes: he could have been more diplomatic toward Abkhazia and South Ossetia and could have agreed to federalization scheme for Georgia. This would have helped to ease tensions and avoid the events of August 2008. Unfortunately Shevarnadze failed to present an appropriate successor. It was hard both politically and economically. He thought he was controlling the situation but he was not. Anyway Shevarnadze was a positive figure in the history of Georgia. I wish him good health hoping that Edward Amvrosievich will do something to restore relations between Russia and Georgia: current developments between Tbilisi and Moscow are nonsense.
Evgeny Minchenko, director of International Institute for Political Expertise
I think we should thank Shevarnadze for Georgia's irrevocable loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If he had not begun hostilities Tbilisi would have had a chance to step onto the level of a federal state or a confederation, but after that war Georgia lost all chances to make Abkhazia and South Ossetia parts of its territory. That is why in reality Sukhum and Tskhinval seceded after that war in the 1990s, not after August 2008. Georgians should refer all questions about independence of these republics to Shevarnadze.
He should also be thanked for the cohort of the young politicians led by Saakashvili. There is nobody else who has stayed in Georgia's active politics except for him. Zhvania too was among the pleiad of gifted political figures of Georgia, and his death was not accidental, I think. Speaking about Shevarnadze's contribution to politics, promulgated data and his own memoirs reveal that Shevarnadze acted as a Georgian nationalist as the head of USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I consider his behavior vile and unmanlike although today is his birthday.
Georgi Khukhashvili, an expert (Georgia)
Last decades of the Soviet period and practically all newest history of Georgia were the epoch of Shevarnadze who had his ups and downs, as well as system errors. Considering reality of those years his activity can't be evaluated in simple terms. Shevarnadze's main merit is that the country obtained a geopolitical function with him. Moreover, he was building real democracy which Georgia lacks now. There was much more pluralism at his time than we have today. The negative side of his policy was creation of a profoundly corrupted system he fell victim to in the end.
Surely Shevarnadze is a significant figure both in Georgia and in global politics. He assisted in a number of crucial decisions. Presently he is exculpated for the errors of the past due to the current president who creates such a background that many in Georgia start feeling nostalgia. God grant Edward Amvrosievich good health!
Irakli Menagrishvili, director of Center for Strategic Studies
Shevarnadze's role in the history of modern Georgia is great: his leadership in Georgia and transformation of Georgian society. His absolute achievement is that the Georgian state stayed on after rough 1990s. Nevertheless, let's not forget that subsequent change of power in the country was caused by accumulated problems in social, political and economic life. As for relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia Shevarnadze made a lot to stabilize the situation. He practically started the dialogue. Shevarnadze's politics must serve as a lesson to Georgia in the future.