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Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Saakashvili: Europe must work to spread democracy

Georgian president Mikhel Saakashvili writes an opinion piece for The Washington Post:

First, we must work together to support the consolidation of democracy in our own countries. Georgia regained its freedom in the Rose Revolution only 18 months ago. Though we have made great strides, much remains to be done in building a lasting democracy. Two significant portions of our territory -- South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- remain untouched by the freedom the rest of Georgia enjoys. We can and must peacefully resolve these disputes to better the lives of Georgians.

Ukraine's Orange Revolution succeeded only five months ago. My friend Viktor Yushchenko faces real challenges in rebuilding his country's economy and in ending the corruption and criminality that are the legacy of decades of repression and misrule.

Second, we must extend the reach of liberty in the Black Sea region and throughout wider Europe. Moldova, like Georgia, faces a separatist region that maintains itself with cast-off Soviet weaponry and the profits from an illicit economy based on trafficking in weapons, drugs and women. These are the last razor-sharp splinters of the Soviet empire.

In Belarus, 10 million people remain in a more regimented captivity. The regime of Aleksander Lukashenko rules by fear, yet fears its own people. The world can do much more to aid the Belarusan people in the quest for freedom. The new Yalta Conference will press for liberty in Belarus through increased travel restrictions on government officials, expanded financial and material support to the opposition, and enhanced training for civic society in the methods of peaceful protest that helped free the people of Georgia and Ukraine.

Third, we seek to expand the frontiers of freedom far beyond the Black Sea. Our message to the oppressors and their subjects is unequivocal: Free peoples cannot rest while tyranny thrives. Just as we benefit from the blessings of liberty, we have a duty to those who remain beyond its reach. In Zimbabwe, Cuba, Burma and elsewhere, millions live under cruel tyrants. Too many governments and international organizations appear willing to sacrifice freedom for what they mistakenly believe will be stability. We know that only the consent of the governed brings stability. And we know that if the world's democracies make liberty the priority of their policy, the days of the dictators are numbered.

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