Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saakashvili and his "democracy"

Last days Saakashvili became really hero in Azerbaijan due to his speech about Rasulzadeh in Azerbaijani Parliament. Even before it, Azerbaijani opposition was desperately appreciating Saakashvili for his reforms in Georgia. I am totally agree, that it is good to not pay bribe and solve everything how the law shows. But in reality, Saakashvili didn’t create, what we think in Azerbaijan. He created something else, about which, will be mentioned below.

Few days ago, I talked with my good friend from Georgia Bakar Berekashvili, who has Social Sciences background. He is member of Executive Committee of Georgian Social Democrats, but currently lives and studies in Warsaw, Poland. Usually, when we talk, we discuss political situation in Georgia and Azerbaijan. This time I decided to interview him for my blog:

“Saakashvili created Elite corruption, where several families are controlling financial resources of whole country”

-         Bakar, I will start directly. How do you think, Georgia is democratic country?
Bakar (in the middle) during the protest
-         After the end of the Soviet Union, Georgia never reflected to be democratic country. Because, our first president was Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who was ethno-nationalist and who was at the same time far away from democratic values. He was the person, who is far from creation of democratic society. Then this president was changed to Eduard Shevarnadze, who had soviet communistic party functionary values, which is also far from democracy. He established in country classic Post-Soviet system. Shevarnadze was not authoritarian or totalitarian. His regime looked like more hybrid. These are not important. Important is today. Present president of Georgia Mikhael Saakashvili was part of Shevarnadze’s government. He was minister of Justice and also for years he was leader of parliamentary group of Shevarnadze’s party. Later, around year 2000 he went to opposition. As a president, Saakashvili is much more authoritarian and totalitarian, rather than Shevarnadze. Currently human rights landscape in Georgia is much more horrible, than it was before. Government controls all media resources. Opposition and social communities do not have chance to reflect their ideas. Saakashvili destroyed pity corruption, but he established elite corruption in country, which is destructive for the development of Georgia. Elite corruption – is the thing, where several families are controlling financial resources of whole country. They do not have rights to do this. I say, Saakashvili is authoritarian neoliberal. What is authoritarian neoliberalism? Today, in Georgia we have new political and economical elites, who are provoking the ideas of Social Darwinism, jungle capitalism, market fundamentalism. The idea of this is to restore economic liberty of classic liberalism. And today this neoliberalism in Georgia exists not just in economy, but also in socio-cultural sphere. Why is it authoritarian? Because, neoliberal policies do not corresponds the interests of society. This way will take us to revolution in Georgia.
Now I would like to tell, that Georgia is far away from democratic values. Georgian government declares that the best model for country is Singapore and we now that Singapore is absolutely authoritarian neoliberal state.

Does it look like a kingdom?
-         Somehow you can say like this.

“Georgian government legalized the things, which Azerbaijani people are paying as a bribe”

-         But in Azerbaijan, Saakashvili is really popular for his reforms and changes in the country. Especially, opposition always talks about it.
-         I know about it and I will explain now what he did. Let us start from education. Georgia has expensive education, if we take into consideration the salaries of the people. To get education in Georgia is not standard possibility of any citizen. This is more comfort. Yes, there is no corruption, but people can’t go to universities anymore due to expenses. Recently, government decided to make prices higher in the system of education.
-         No scholarships?
Georgian police beated this old man almost till the death
-         There are, but the number is very, very low! This is not enough for the development of education system in Georgia. This is not the only problem. Also, the universities are not developing. They are controlled by political institutions; many teachers are very loyal to the government. If they will not be loyal, they will have serious problems in their jobs. The same I can tell about health system. Official prices in the state clinics are very high and the quality is very low. Why elite people are going to clinics, which have high fees, rather than in state ones? Because, the quality of state clinics are very low!
-         Then it sounds to me like this: What is in Azerbaijan are in a bribe way, in Georgia they are legalized. Am I right?
-         Absolutely!
-         Got it. But, people are free to make protests there. At least, they are more from than in Azerbaijan.
-         This is absolutely wrong information. In May 26 of 2011 opposition made a demonstration. It was brutally broke down by the government. Several people died. Government is still hiding the real number of dead people. I know that in Azerbaijan people thinks, that in Georgia it is easier to make demonstrations, but it is incorrect information. I can show youtube links, where police arrests people illegally and beats them. May be in Azerbaijan it can be a little bit more. But we have these also. Today we have a lot of political prisoners and Saakashvili is responsible for all these.

“Georgian journalists need to learn from their Azerbaijani colleagues to be brave”

During May 26, 2011 protests... another victim
-         What do you think Georgian opposition can learn from their Azerbaijani colleagues?
-         I am really impressed of Azerbaijani journalists. Also, I am very impressed from Azerbaijani human rights activities. I know that Azerbaijani bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders are living in much more oppressive regime, rather than Georgians. But they are still fighting till the end.  For me they are the best in whole Caucasus. I see in their activities intellectual capital as well. I think that Azerbaijan has absolutely bright future in democracy, because of civil and political activeness. This is very fantastic and it is my subjective opinion.
-         Why in Azerbaijan regime is more oppressive?
-         Because, they are much more resistant towards regime. Azerbaijani journalists have more radical views against regime. They are more brave, rather than Georgian journalists. Another idea is that, may be Aliyev’s regime is direct totalitarian, where Saakashvili is post-modern authoritarian. Aliyev is typical Asian dictator and Saakashvili indirect. Saakashvili has tools of manipulation on people by telling “we are developing” with indicating figures provided by international institutional instruments of neoliberal economic globalization and so on. However,  reality is that there is deep social injustice and economic inequality in Georgia
-         Still, in Azerbaijan people thinks, that Georgia is more democratic.
-         I know why they think like this. It is due to some existing figures in our country, like World Bank and International Monetary Fund. For example, World Bank says, that it is easy to do business in Georgia. How? For whom? People need money to do this. This pleasure is only for economic elites. This statistics are not developing economical situation of country. Only elites can do this business. Besides, government sponsors lobbies in order to propaganda Georgian development, which is myth. I can not say even, which part of our democracy is not or is developed, as simply, we don’t have it!
Illegal arrest by Georgian police during the protest in May 26, 2011 
-         What do you think would happen, if Georgia would have the same resources as Azerbaijan?
-         We were thinking about it and I guess, Saakashvili would be much more authoritarian leader, than Ilham Aliyev. I am absolutely sure, that all oil money would be controlled by one person. Even, we - Georgians are grateful, that we do not have oil, because if we would have it, Saakashvili would be much more brutal and eternal in this government.
-         Saakashvili made attractive speech in Azerbaijani parliament, which was appreciated by Azerbaijani opposition. How honest he was?
-         My kind advice for Azerbaijani opposition is to not believe to him and to be far from stereotypes. It was somehow PR campaign and political technology. This person can not be honest for his own society, how he can be honest to others? This is my personal opinion.