Georgia is strategically important to the United States in the war on terror and an indispensable transit point for energy supplies between Asia and Europe.
Though the country’s November 2003 “revolution of roses” is the most positive event to have occurred in the countries of the former Soviet Union in more than a decade, Georgia is entering an unstable period of transition as its new government tries to promote national coherence among the country’s ethnic groups and takes steps to dismantle the corrupt power structure that thrived under former president Eduard Shevardnadze. This timely report, written by an expert on conflict prevention in the Caucasus, recommends steps the United States and the international community can to take to bolster President Mikhail Saakashvili as well as moves his government should make in the short and long term.
International donors, led by the United States, must provide emergency assistance so the Saakashvili government can pay salaries and sustain basic operations. At the same time, theUnited Statesshould pressRussiato internationalize its troop presence in Georgia and close its military headquarters and military bases, which undermineGeorgia ’s sovereignty. The new Georgian government, to shore up its credibility and stabilize the country, must prosecute individuals linked to Georgia ’s corrupt bureaucratic networks and organize free and fair parliamentary elections. Over the long term, it must also secure the country’s borders, work out an agreement with Russia about its troops and bases on Georgian soil, and revive the nation’s stagnant economy.