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Experts make evaluation of democracy and economy16.01.2009 | 15:10
Experts of international organizations acknowledge liberal tendency of the economic reforms carried out in Georgia but at the same time they are convinced: the country that until recently was considered the cradle of democracy in the Caucasus has taken the wrong turning and now is only "partly free".
According to the Freedom House analytical report widely disseminated by the mass media "Georgia was the site of the first in the recent spate of color revolutions and represented one of the few bright spots in the former Soviet Union; its erratic course, including a state of emergency in 2007 and war with Russia in August, ranks among the more disturbing developments of the past two years".
It is also pointed out in the document that the decline in the freedom development is most vivid in Georgia and Mauritania. Besides Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Kirgizia and Moldova have also experienced some degree of decline.
South Ossetia is in the list of most "Not Free" countries and ranks among the world's most
repressive regimes". Abkhazia has the same "Partly Free" status as Georgia.
If the state of democracy in Georgia arouses still greater concern among Western analysts economy seems to be much better off at first sight. Not better or worse comparing to other post-Soviet states. This is the conclusion of the World Bank (WB).
According to economy's growth rate Georgia ranks seventh among ex fellow-USSR countries. As Kommersant radio station in Georgia reports the World Bank forecasts 4% economic growth this year and 6% next year. Here Georgia is behind Armenia and Azerbaijan. Their economic growth forecasts for 2009 are to 6,5% and 10,5% accordingly. The most complicated situation is in the Baltic states especially in recessive Lithuania and Latvia expecting a 3% decline.
However the index of economic freedom in Georgia is one of the highest in the former Soviet Union according to Heritage Foundation (USA). It secures 32th place in the list of 183 countries being ahead of Russia in particular. And the South Caucasus leader is Armenia - a point higher than Georgia.
It bears noting that the rating is based on 10 indexes including Trade Freedom, Investment Freedom, Freedom from Government, Freedom from Corruption etc.
Number one country in the list of economically free countries has been Hong Kong for already 15 years. It is followed by Singapore, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand. North Korea is the last country on the list.
It looks like Georgia has pretty good indicators that must confirm its economic progress. It is still more curious that Georgians are very uneasy about the real state of things. According to the opinion poll by "Kviris Palitra" (Weekly Palette) among the consequences that the financial crisis (quite tangible now) involves Georgian people are most feared by total unemployment. Growth of food prices ranks second and the fall in national currency exchange rate is in third place.
The threat of unemployment for the people is more dreadful than the political crisis. In the poll above the political instability is ranked fourth. And it is for the fifth time that Georgia's president declares merciless war to unemployment. He recently repeated there was no financial and economic crisis in Georgia yet and around 25-30 thousand new employments would be created in the country this year.
It is unknown whether new employments include the ones lost in December. That month Georgian banks dismissed about 6 thousand employees. Naturally the banking sector problems had their impact on other industries. For instance according to Kommersant radio station 38 thousand citizens working in construction business are likely to be made redundant.