US Experts Agree That West Needs to Do More

The progress and failures of 25 years independence, as well as ongoing challenges in democratisation and rule of law spheres for former USSR countries have been discussed in Washington. Georgia was singled out as a relative leader among the South Caucasus countries, while Armenia was viewed as a direct target of Russian influence, and Azerbaijan continues to regress in its human rights record. In Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan was said to be doing better than any other regional state. VoA Georgia spoke to two experts on the issues.

David Kramer, Mccain Institute for International Leadership and former President of Freedom House

“The US needs to pay more attention and provide more help to countries in the post-Soviet space, especially in the fields of rule of law, institutional resilience, media, party building and civil society.

“Russia constantly blocks Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations and its Western integration. In this context, the US should express a Presidential-level interest towards the region and stay more active, more present in the regional developments. Georgia’s integration with the West is an important aspect. We have to make sure the upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw does not result in similar outcomes to the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008 which lead to frustration among Georgians and a resurgent Russia.

“At this point, there is a need on the part of Georgians to see more recognition of its efforts by NATO. The West, including the US, at the same time need to say that Georgia’s membership in the Alliance is also within our interests. All post Soviet countries have achieved independence and maintained it to this day. Russia invaded Georgia and still occupies 20% of its territory. Georgia has long standing separatist conflicts yet it continues to develop on a Euro-Atlantic path. The US should help it more. I hope we can get talking about the Western integration of all Soviet countries in the next 25 years.”

William Courtney, former US Ambassador to Georgia

“Most visibly, Georgia has achieved two main things in the last 25 years: it secured independence, maintained it and conducted democratic reforms. Georgia and Ukraine regularly conduct elections, and have viable opposition players. However, the West should continue its engagement since the challenges are substantial. For example, Russia will remain as a threat. But I would say the major challenge is developing economic reforms and raising the standard of living for Georgians: given the per-capita quality of education of Georgians, agriculture potential and key positioning of Georgia as a transit country between East and West, this challenge should not be hard to overcome.”

Full article in Georgian:

Anna Kalandadze

01 March 2016 12:53