After less than two months from the date of coming to power the Prime Minister Ivanishvili began to fulfill one of the major campaign promises - the establishment of relations with Russia. The process is complex and does not depend on Tbilisi’s wish alone. But the fact that in Geneva on Wednesday the Russian-Georgian talks began for the first time after four years of interrupted diplomatic relations means that it is not for nothing that the Prime Minister created a special, separately from the Foreign Ministry, Institute for the improvement of relations with Russia, and charged with managing the structure the experienced diplomat Zurab Abashidze, who in due time headed the diplomatic mission of Georgia to Russia.
Moscow did not want to make any negotiations with the previous government but in the proposed format it met half-way. But it was not easy to add thereto any further successes of Georgia’s new authorities.
A number of high-profile arrests of former high-ranking officials, the willingness to initiate other criminal cases “confuse” not only the West. Already in the Georgian society, even in that part of the same that has never idolized the former ruling party of United National Movement (UNM), puzzling questions have arisen: thus, it will emerge that there were not a single honest man in power.
Difficult to imagine, but the queues in public prosecutor's offices throughout Georgia are big. Heeding Ivanishvili’s promise to restore the downtrodden justice, people come and go with petitions demanding to review the formerly imposed sentence or return the alienated property. Of course, fishers in troubled waters can not be ruled out, but most of the complaints, according to informed sources, seem grounded.
However, according to the same sources the current legislative framework may prevent from restoring justice. Especially when it comes to disposal of property or business. “Notarially, legally, processes are executed correctly - hard to fault, everything is in place - signatures, seals, etc. In some cases the time and point of transaction may be called in question. Sometimes they were executed in the depth of night or somewhere at a restaurant, or for peanuts as a mere formality.
Knowing the style and manners of the old authorities, it can be assumed that some member of the top brass tanked up on alcohol, recalled and ordered to deliver to his dinner table someone whose car or, say, business were to his taste... That is why night-time as time of registration and a tavern as a place of transaction appear in a grant. But how to prove that it was made under pressure, if the defendant insolently argues that the claimant, being in good spirits, gave him something, but having sobered up, was sorry for what he did, but what do I care, he will be smarter next time! That is, it is an attempt to transfer the event to the plane of morality. But the authorities make their best to dot all the “I’s”,” said the source. According to him, a lot of “high-profile cases” are expected.
Another cornerstone of Bidzina Ivanishili’s and Georgian Dream’s electoral program are promises of social and economic nature. Here the winners in this parliamentary election made a mistake. After reviewing the situation, they had to admit that the double energy tariff reduction should not be expected by the public - with this promise they have been too hasty. Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze is continuing the talks with companies about lowering gas and electricity prices, in order to set then to tariffs. Too early to talk results but it is obvious they will be lowered insignificantly. However, for the impoverished population it's not a little.
They were too hasty with another promise too – to raise the minimum pension to 200 lari (about 170-180 dollars). Statements by the Georgian Dream leaders that they never named a specific date of increase in payments is a poor consolation. Now they say the pension will increase without fail but gradually. However, the budget for the next year, according to economists, is the most “social” in the post-Soviet history of Georgia. Its development and adoption did not need super efforts or search for additional sources of subsidy. The new government has just optimized it, redistributing, in particular, the over-generous for the poor country financing of power structures - in favor of education and health.
The presidential budget was significantly reduced. Saakashvili was proposed to forget about three (!) presidential aircrafts. One was left in his possession. The possibility to spend huge sums on public relations projects, such as advert videos on corners of Georgia, or foreign stars concerts was eliminated too. The new government says all this will not stop but will be implemented within reasonable limits. For example, Toto Cutugno will not come to sing for the higher fee due to the performance conditions, and the production of a video clip about Batumi will fit into a more modest amount and will not be comparable to the cost of a Hollywood movie.
In the first days of next year Bidzina Ivanishvili plans to complete the formation of a special agricultural fund of $1 billion. True, it is still not very clear what on and how the money will be spent, but the prime minister is convinced of its effectiveness - not a single penny will go to the side. The decision to stake on agricultural development for a country such as Georgia is quite reasonable. There is no big industry here, so we can talk about a favorable ecological situation, and consequently, about environmentally friendly products, which are commercially successful all over the world. Eventually, with the development of agriculture, the movement of people from rural to urban areas becomes dangerous, with the urban areas not coping themselves with problems of unemployment.
The rise in crime should be put down to obvious disadvantages of the new government. However, the Georgian society believes that at first it had been provoked by the former authorities. When the police was de-politicized, the expected decline of organized crime rates did not take place because of the amnesty - by no means well-fed and comfortable life expected all the released persons. But there will be soon another amnesty and therefore - the criminal situation will worsen.
Relations with the West are poor in general. The new authorities never managed to convince neither the U.S., nor NATO, nor the European institutions patronizing Georgia that the arrests of members of the former ruling party are not politically motivated but are of criminal nature. The obstinacy with which the West encourages and even demands “to stop the persecution and release” can be explained by the fact that its representatives who since 2003 have sung praises to Saakashvili and his team found themselves in a stupid position, not having made out egregious violations committed during 8 or 9 years in the country, announced a “beacon of democracy”. But on the other hand, such persistence of the West can be attributed to bad work of the new government’s PR services that have installed quality communication neither with their society nor with the foreign one. Obviously, realizing what is happening, Ivanishvili has created a special propaganda unit. There is some talk it will be maintained not on the public money, but on his personal.
“If you ask me about the new government’s achievements,” said one noted journalist in Tbilisi, “then 50 days, during which the Georgian Dream runs the country, is not the time when you can talk about any outcome, even intermediate. For me personally an achievement is that I can safely talk both on a home, and mobile telephone. And I know that on coming out of the house I will not receive a blow on the head for something I've said, and no drugs will be planted in my pocket.”
People are getting rid of fear, and it’s quite a lot.