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Georgia President Saakashvili: Russian hostility won't sap our commitment to democracy

Mikheil Saakashvili says Russian hostility has helped turn Georgia into a democratic laboratory for the region, and argues that true security cannot be separated from democracy.

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In 2003, the Rose Revolution in Georgia was the first of a wave of popular standoffs against authoritarianism, fraud, and corruption in the post-Soviet area.

Seven years later, some people might think the recent events in Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan have sparked a re-evaluation of the so-called colored revolutions, believing that they have failed to radically transform our region.

In light of the profound transformations in my country, I strongly disagree.

Of course, the challenges of building democracy and stable institutions are many, and the path of reform is not always easy to navigate.

Changing leadership is possible, seizing a parliament is spectacular, and waving flags in the street is gorgeous – but changing systems and institutionalizing those changes is profoundly difficult. Nevertheless, this process of reform is what constitutes a true revolution, not the colorful images on TV.

In Georgia’s case, we pursued our reform agenda while facing serious external threats to our security, including the August 2008 invasion by Russia. Our democracy had no choice but to grow at gunpoint – in the face of occupation and chronic threats to our government.

Today, over 20 percent of our territory is occupied; Russian tanks stand just 30 miles from our capital. And the Kremlin has long taken the view that our democratically elected government must be changed by whatever means. But our new institutions are robust and will not collapse, our will to reform is unwavering, and our economy is growing with renewed vigor.

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