A tale of two Georgias

have supported the nascent democracies of Europe with financing, education, and a security umbrella. epa03927912 Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili speaks during a joint news conference with new elect-president Giorgi Margvelashvili (not pictured) in Tbilisi, Georgia, 28 October 2013. In this context, Ivanishvili’s retirement shows a path forward for emerging European democracies. For so long, it was the United States – the “shining city on the hill” – to which Western Europe looked for democratic inspiration. As President Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction … it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation”. What is really needed though, is leadership within the nations themselves. 10,000 km away, in the country of Georgia, a less-heralded but even more impressive democratic transition is taking place. EPA/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

Former Georgian Prime Minister and ex-head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, speaks during a news conference in Tbilisi. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>A tale of two Georgias

By Ryszard Czarnecki
Polish European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Member of the European Parliament. President who refused to leave office after losing an election, and instead be inspired by the Georgian billionaire in their own neighborhood, who voluntarily transferred power after winning an election. The country currently sits 7th in the World Bank’s global ‘Doing Business’ rankings, ahead of 26 of the 27 EU Member States; the Index of Economic Freedom places Georgia 12th globally, again ahead of almost all EU countries; the Fraser Institute’s freedom rankings place Georgia in 8th position just behind the United States. leaders – in deeds as well as words. Few European democracies are as well-established or long-lasting as the US. It was the state of Georgia that sealed the end of the Trump presidency, as the voters of that state rejected the President’s efforts to undermine the democratic process of a free American. and the U.S. Like Trump, Ivanishvili is a billionaire businessman-turned-politician who won an against-the-odds electoral victory back in 2012. A more muscular approach to the threat of China was both welcome and long-overdue, as was the exhortation to European nations to increase defense spending. That application deserves to be supported. It was heartening, in this context, to see an announcement this week from former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili that he will retire from public life and renounce all of his political positions. Today, our friends and partners would be better served ignoring the billionaire now ex-U.S. For many conservatives in Europe, Trump was a mixed blessing. Since the end of the Cold War, the E.U. Ivanishvili has been the driving force in Georgian politics since 2012, serving first as Prime Minister and later as head of the governing Georgian Dream party. His tax cuts also turbo-charged the U.S. economy. It is a remarkable story for a country so recently living under dictatorship and oppression, and one that deserves to be recognized by E.U. Facebook

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After the end of the Trump presidency, it remains to be seen if the Republican Party establishment will break with Trump. Those of us who grew up behind the Iron Curtain know only too well the fragility of these freedoms. A number of conservative parties, but not all of them, around the world will hope that the Republican Party of old – the pro-market, pro-freedom and fully committed to Western democratic institutions – will reestablish itself. Democracy is not a perfect system of government – not in Georgia, not in the European Union, not even in the United States. His party won a comfortable re-election victory in November of last year. Despite his opponents’ Trump-esque claims of electoral fraud, the EU and other international observers declared that the Georgian elections met international standards and that the results were accurate. It is there, fortunately, that the similarities end. This support should, and doubtless will, continue. A question posed regularly in recent days is: could the same happen here? election. Alongside his difficult rhetoric, some important conservative principles have been enacted. The voluntary giving-up of power by one of Georgia’s most powerful and most wealthy men demonstrates a civic and democratic maturity that bodes extremely well for the new Georgian Dream government’s planned application to join the EU in 2024. Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili consolidated his power over the South Caucasus republic after his candidate was declared the clear winner of a presidential election on 27 October. Georgia has long been a shining light of progress in the region, and its acceleration in recent years under Ivanishvili has outstripped all expectations. The Eastern Partnership countries, in particular, remain vulnerable to internal and external shocks that could destabilize the progress made in recent decades.