Wednesday

23rd Aug 2017

Opinion

Georgia moves ahead, but consequences of war remain to be dealt with

  • Tbilisi: Russian tanks in 2008 were poised to roll into the Georgian capital (Photo: Thomas Depenbusch)

In August 2008, thousand of Russian troops and armour rolled into Georgia, as Russian aviation pounded the country's military, infrastructural and civilian targets.

Four years on, Georgia stands strong in asserting its identity as a liberal, democratic state, its economy is surging ahead and the government is working hard to take care of people displaced during the conflict.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Our friends stood by us in 2008. We need their support still so that those residing in 20 percent of our territory occupied by Russia can partake in and benefit from the progress Georgia has achieved.

Pictures of war on major news networks mean destruction, devastation and despair for those embroiled in conflict.

If the eye of an international reporter ever returns to those areas as the years go by, one usually sees a grim reality, where human suffering prevails with no hope in sight.

This was one possible scenario for my country as well, after it was invaded by a neighbour which is vastly superior in size and military capabilities. Still worse was the threat of obliteration of our very statehood and of our way of life.

Yet neither of these came to be.

Georgian people defended their homeland. Our friends and allies stood by us on the international arena to rebuke the invasion.

Georgia has kept its identity as a free nation and is moving ahead, though ever-mindful of the ongoing threat from the two Russian military bases that were set up on occupied territories, in violation of the ceasefire agreement and fundamental principles of international law.

The country withstood the shock and managed to rebound into steady economic growth. Real GDP increased by 6.4 percent in 2010 and by 7 percent in 2011. Later this year, we expect to open a major railway route linking Central Asia with Turkey and Europe.

Georgia still remains one of the safest, buisness-friendly and least corrupt countries in Europe.

The UN World Tourism Organization recently singled out Georgia for its remarkable growth in tourism - arrivals have almost tripled in the past five years, from just below 1 million in 2006 to close to 3 million in 2011.

The UN also gave it a prize for quality of public service - the key way citizens interact with government on a daily basis.

Our democratic choice remains unshaken. Citizens will vote on 1 October to elect a new parliament and to rejuvenate our democracy.

Our nation is also negotiating an Association Agreement and free trade agreement with the EU, implementing reforms to strengthen our justice system, local governance and our penitentiary.

While we are proud of our success, we call attention to the plight of the thousands who were displaced during the war and whose homes were often razed to the ground in an act of ethnic cleansing.

The Georgian government made sure that most of these families had a new roof over their heads for the winter of 2008. But their rights are far from being respected and their loss is far from compensated. Justice is yet to be restored.

As we work to advance our nation, we need the help and support of the international community to condemn and reverse the occupation and to make our successes available to those who reside on the 20 percent of Georgian territory currently occupied by Russian troops.

In the 21st century no power can afford to lock people behind barbed wire, to raze villages in order to build military bases, to deprive children of the right to study in their mother tongue and to make carrying a gun the only available employment.

We have reached out to all those who reside on occupied territories. We have tried to build confidence with them by offering services in order to restore the social fabric that linked our communities for centuries.

Georgia keeps neighborly relations with the Russian people - we cancelled visa requirements for all Russian citizens in March and the tourists have poured back in, despite a propaganda of fear by the Kremlin.

We are ready to engage in constructive talks with Russia. We made a unilateral pledge not to use force. There has been no reciprocity, but we hope, often beyond hope, that hearts and minds in Moscow will slowly change.

Georgia has achieved a lot, but we still need a friendly hand so that all of our compatriots may live in peace, dignity and security.

The governments and civil society of the free world should continue to deliver a loud and clear message to the government of the Russian Federation that the military occupation cannot be tolerated, that systematic abuse of human rights cannot be window-dressed as nation-building and that ethnic cleansing has no place in modern society.

Four years after the war, the Georgian nation stands tall, looks to the future and demands justice for all its residents.

Grigol Vashadze is the foreign minister of Georgia

EU rewards Georgia with 'deep' free trade talks

After having lifted its veto against Russia joining the World Trade Organisation following a Swiss-brokered deal, Georgia will start "deep" free trade negotiations with the EU in December.

EU preparing snap summit on Russia-Georgia war

Updated 13:30 The French EU presidency is preparing to call an emergency EU summit on the Russia-Georgia conflict, following a Polish request. A snap gathering of EU foreign ministers has already been organised in Brussels for Wednesday.

Managing migration: a European responsibility

"The EU now needs to bring its weight to bear, to ensure non-EU countries cooperate on taking back their nationals arriving as economic migrants", writes migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Macron goes east to test appetite for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The return of the chlorinated chicken

Britain has only just started on the path towards a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, but you can already see the same all-too-familiar disagreements.

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  2. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  3. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  4. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger
  5. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  6. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  7. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  8. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  3. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  4. Martens CentreWeeding Out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  6. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  7. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  8. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  9. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  10. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  11. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead