Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 155

While Russian force in Georgia are embarking on their overdue withdrawal (see the Monitor, July 19, August 2; Fortnight in Review, July 21, August 4), Western political influence and economic advice is gaining ground in the country. While the two processes are not causally interrelated, the parallelism is more than just symbolic. The renowned Polish economist Leszek Balcerowicz has accepted to head a mainly Western team of economic advisers to the Georgian government. Balcerowicz, who held top posts in Poland’s government during the 1990s, is considered the main architect of that country’s successful economic reforms. The Chevron company’s former vice president Ed Chaus has accepted the post of senior adviser to the Georgian president and government for oil and gas issues. Both appointments were facilitated by the U.S. government, with the Agency for International Development and the Trade and Development Agency financing the advisers’ contracts and activities.

The German government has decided to exempt Georgia from its plans to reduce Germany’s overall foreign assistance programs. Substantial German funds will–directly as well as through the European Union–continue undiminished in support of programs to modernize electrical power generation, water supply systems, small business development, and the establishment of a land cadaster and land registration system, preparatory to agricultural reform. In Trabzon, Turkey, that country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ismail Cem discussed with his Georgian counterpart Irakly Menagarishvili the project to build a direct railway link from Kars, Turkey to Tbilisi. Such a link could significantly boost Georgia’s foreign trade as well as facilitate Turkey’s communications with Azerbaijan via Georgia.

But the progress is partly overshadowed by Tbilisi’s difficulties in financing its own diplomatic and economic missions abroad. The Foreign Affairs Ministry is currently planning substantial cuts in the staff and activities of those missions. Tbilisi will concentrate available resources to its missions in Western countries, deemed key to Georgia’s modern development, while cutting other missions including the oversized one in Moscow. (Kavkasia Press, Prime-News, Black Sea Press, Tbilisi Radio, Anatolia news agency, Turkish Daily News, July 29-August 7).

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