|George Soros: a new comprehensive
anti-corruption program planned in Georgia
Billionaire, philanthropist George Soros, who visited Georgian on May 29-31 said before departure, that he is leaving Tbilisi with “a great sense of satisfaction both with the advances made by the government and by the work” of his Foundation – Open Society – Georgia Foundation (OSGF). He also said that revolutions do not necessarily “produce open societies” and Georgia still needs much to work to strengthen democratic institutions.
During the visit George Soros met twice with President Saakashvili – once upon arrival and the next time on May 31 after meeting with representatives of the civil society.
“During the second meeting with the President we discussed a new comprehensive anti-corruption campaign, which will be prepared, maybe, by the end of the year and agreed on, maybe, within nine months or so,” George Soros said at a news conference in Tbilisi on May 31, but he did not elaborate about this new program.
He said that lot has been changes since Rose Revolution in Georgia, but lot remains to be done.
“I think that change in the police is very visible… But a lot of work needs to be done, because the police needs to be trained,” Soros said. He said that education reform was also a positive development.
Soros emphasized that focus should be made on reforming judiciary.
“Because, independent judiciary is indispensable element of the open society… A lot of work is to be done in this regard and I hope the [Open Society] Foundation will make a contribution [in respect of judiciary reform],” Soros added.
He also said that “a lot of work needs to be done in the prison system” where practice of torture of detainees still remains, although “has been declined.”
Soros also emphasized on importance of free media and said that the creation of a media council that sets and monitors journalistic standards and interference from government or media owners would foster freedom of media.
George Soros noted that Georgia needs to further strengthen its democratic institutions. “The revolution does not necessarily produce an open society. Revolutionary change of the regime is only beginning of the process [of democratization],” he said.
George Soros also spoke much about the democratization process in the post-Soviet area and said that this process might develop in two directions.
“Unfortunately, the process can go in two directions. You can move towards a greater democratization, or you can go towards a greater repression. And where the repression can lead – you can look at Uzbekistan,” he said.
Soros said that bloodshed in Uzbekistan’s Andijan was “one of the worst political crimes committed in the 21st centaury.” “I can only hope that other countries will avoid that route [of Uzbekistan],” he added.
He also said that other countries “in Georgia’s neighborhood” are not yet prepared for a smooth power transition “and in those countries revolutions can have very negative consequences.”
He once again denied allegations over masterminding revolutions on the post-Soviet space.
“I am very proud of work of the Foundation in preparing the Georgian society for what became the Rose Revolution. But the role of the Foundation and my personal role have been greatly exaggerated. The Rose Revolution was entirely the work of Georgian society,” he said.
“I am not responsible for the Rose Revolution in Georgia and I am not advocating for similar revolutions elsewhere,” Soros added.
He also denied rumors about plans to finance some of the political parties in Georgia.
“I hear a lot of rumors that I want to promote the [opposition] Republican Party… Let me deny these rumors strongly as I can. I absolutely have no intentions to interfere in internal, party political activities,” philanthropist noted.
A small group of activists from the opposition Labor Party held a protest rally outside the office of the Open Society Institute – Georgia Foundation on May 30. Protesters carried banners “Soros – Go and Take Your Government” making a reference to the Georgian cabinet members, which as claimed by Labor Party is “fully controlled” by the billionaire philanthropist. Soros announced last year that he will contribute USD 1 million to finance specially set up fund designed for Georgian officials’ salaries.
Another group of protesters, who describe themselves as supporters of late Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, threw eggs at Soros car, while the latter was walking out of the hotel in Tbilisi on May 30.