Briefing Paper

Project: Russia and Eurasia Programme

S. Neil MacFarlane
  • From the Rose Revolution in 2003 to the war with Russia and financial crisis of 2008, Georgia achieved impressive macroeconomic results. Government reforms reduced petty corruption and criminal violence markedly. Rapid progress was made in the delivery of public goods. The investment climate improved.
  • President Mikheil Saakashvili has weathered the fallout of the war with Russia. Weak opposition and substantial Western aid have enabled the government to stabilize the economy and consolidate its political position.
  • However, positive headline macroeconomic results may not be sustainable and mask persistent concerns regarding poor performance in combating poverty, unemployment and increasing inequality.
  • Human rights continue to be a problem. The government cuts corners on democracy and the rule of law. Media freedoms remain constrained. Civil and parliamentary oversight of governmental decisions is limited, and the judicial system is subject to political interference.
  • The abuse of state power and enduring poverty and inequality risk alienating the population and increasing social tension. There is therefore reason to question the sustainability of Georgia's economic model and the stability of the post-war political situation.