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Georgia Implementing Political, Economic Reforms

Georgia Successfully Implementing Political, Economic Reforms

The progress Georgia has made since 2003 indicates that reforms are taking hold across a broad section of its political and economic life, a senior U.S. diplomat says.

"The government has reduced corruption in its bureaucracy," says Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. "And the World Bank named the Georgian government the world's leading reformer last year."

Fried, speaking November 1 at the "Developing Europe's East" conference in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, said the former Soviet republic has enacted economic reforms that vaulted it from 112 to 18 on the World Bank's Doing Business report, and Georgia continues to attract increasing sums of foreign investment.

"And it's not just the World Bank. Transparency International recently raised Georgia's standing in its annual assessment," he said.

Georgia, Fried said, is moving toward joining the Euro-Atlantic community with a sizeable backing from the country's population -- 80 percent approval, according to polls. Georgia is seeking membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO.

"A Euro-Atlantic identity is based on shared values and shared institutions as much as on geography. Georgia's mind is focused on those issues and has been especially since the Rose Revolution that brought a new wave of freedom to Georgia," he said.

Fried said it is the Georgians themselves and their leadership who deserve the credit for these accomplishments. Its commitment to reforms has been helped by participation, advice and assistance from the EU, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other leaders in Europe, he said.

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"Democracy is healthy when those in power share authority with an opposition in joint -- albeit competitive -- pursuit of the country's greater good, rather than scoring tactical political points," he said.

NATO membership would require that Georgia continue democratic reform and pursuit of a peaceful solution to its territorial questions, he said.

"And paradoxically, the inverse is also true: Georgia will advance these reforms as it feels greater confidence that the door to NATO will remain open as long as Georgia fulfills membership criteria. These are all interrelated issues," he said.

Fried said that there should be no doubt that the United States supports Georgia's NATO aspirations.


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