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Clinton “reloaded” her attitude to Tbilisi18.02.2011 | 21:06
Yesterday, non-government organizations activists and human right fighters in various counties of the world got an opportunity to put direct questions to Hillary Clinton during a special call-in show. Representatives of thirty non-government organizations of the country also gathered in Tbilisi. They were lucky to ask only four questions to the U.S. State Secretary but NGO members were satisfied even with that. They asked Clinton questions hinting at Saakashvili's authoritarianism, while Washington's answers might be interpreted as a final verdict to the regime.
Representatives of thirty Georgian NGOs were invited to talk to the U.S. State Secretary. By six o'clock in the evening they started gathering at the USA Embassy. Everything was arranged on a high level. This telebridge is not a one-time action of Washington's "regional committee" but a new mega project called Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society that covered twenty countries for the first time. According to Hillary Clinton, the project is based on the U.S.' desire to directly communicate with the civil sector of those countries that the USA have got their interests in.
It all happened not without a reason. The USA have "missed" the events in Tunisia and Egypt. Now their authority in these countries has fallen down significantly. Besides, as Washington came to know in the nearest years, "all is not gold that glitters". The proverb fully refers to the American assessment of the processes in Georgia.
In the USA, Saakashvili has been considered a democrat for a long time. He was considered a democrat for a much longer time there than in his own country. As a result, two grand projects appeared at the State Department for the correction of mistakes. We watched the presentation of the first one yesterday. Now the U.S. government decided to communicate with the non-government sector directly and listen to what they say about democracy in their countries.
Association of Young Lawyers is one of those four non-governmental organizations that were lucky. Its leader Tamara Chugoshvili asked Clinton the following about the costs of the Georgian democracy: "Economic development and democracy are equally important for Georgia. According to our estimation, in some cases, democratic values and the supremacy of law are sacrificed to the economic development. So long as the USA are a prospering country, we want to ask the state secretary if that's normal and to what extent one thing could be sacrificed to the other".
In her interview to GeorgiaTimes, Tamara Chugoshvili confirmed that by her question she wanted to draw the White House's attention to the official Tbilisi's policy. "Indeed, we've got certain mistakes when rights and freedoms are restricted in favour of economical development and many important democratic principles are violated", - Chugoshvili said.
The answer to the question put by Association of Young Lawyers is now cited by all the Georgian media:
"You won't ensure a stable economical growth that we all are waiting for until you achieve a strong combination of institutes, supremacy of law, democratic government and free civil society and until your private sector has a free access to economy", - Washington responded.
Here comes an important detail: Chugoshvili's question was answered not by the state secretary herself but her special representative Melanie Vervier.
Tamara Chugoshvili told us that Hillary herself did not answer a single question; it was her counselors who helped her. The majority of the questions were left unanswered. They will be considered and, perhaps, some day there will be an answer. There were three questions from other NGOs in this group, so Chugoshvili was lucky. She may render herself a woman of the day in Georgia, for she is the only citizen of the country whose question was answered by the U.S. State Department.
But let's come back to the answer. The opposition will definitely get armed with it, for Melanie Vervier said that there is no supremacy of law, democratic government and free civil society in Georgia. She also said that the private sector has got no access to economy. On the whole, it looks like America's verdict to Saakashvili.
It is very interesting what the president's chancellery will answer to that. One can assume that they will pay attention to the interpretation of the translation and perhaps will find a new version of the answer underlining Georgia's unprecedented progress.
But we think that the White House anyway wanted to address several harsh words to Tbilisi regime, for Georgia was one of those four countries, which questions were voiced during the call-in show. Washington selected Shugoshvili's question out of the four Georgian questions, which was the most provocative. This question was immediately answered.
Thus, official Tbilisi should better hear the clear message in yesterday's statement of the State Secretary's Counsellor.