Georgia (country)

country in the Caucasus

Georgia is a country in Europe. It is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 square kilometers (26,911 sq mi), and its 2017 population is about 3.718 million. The sovereign state of Georgia is a unitary semi-presidential republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy.

It is time we Georgians did not depend only on others, it is time we asked what Georgia will do for the world. ~ Mikheil Saakashvili
It is not by mere chance that we [Georgians] have adopted two very important ideas as our watch words: freedom and responsibility. ~ Zurab Zhvania
Georgia, the rule of law will prevail, and freedom will be the birthright of every citizen... [T]he seeds of liberty you are planting in Georgian soil are flowering across the globe. ~ George W. Bush
Georgia's transformation since 2003 has been remarkable... The lights are on, the streets are safe, and public services are corruption free. ~ World Bank
Georgia's character - now and forever - celebrates tolerance, embraces diversity, relishes lively and open debate, and above all, respects liberty and human dignity. ~ Mikheil Saakashvili

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  • By mid-1921, the Red Army had overcome opposition in the Caucasus and Central Asia, although its invasion of Poland in 1920 was driven back. These conflicts were linked to rivalry between the great powers. The conflict in the Caucasus was in part an instance of the struggle between Britain and the Soviet Union. The British saw Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, each of which briefly became independent in the Russian Civil War, as a buffer for their interests in Iraq, Persia (Iran) and India; and as a source of raw materials, notably oil from Azerbaijan and access to oil from Georgia. In late 1918, the British landed troops in the Black Sea port of Batumi, the terminus of the railway to the oil-producing centre of Baku on the Caspian Sea. This was a commitment advocated by Mackinder. Torpedo-armed coastal motor boats were sent overland to the Caspian Sea. However, under pressure from too many commitments, the British withdrew their forces from late 1919. Benefiting from the divisions between the Caucasus republics, the Soviets advanced and took them over in 1920–1.
  • While separatist nationalisms developed and were increasingly expressed, there was no protracted attempt to use the extensive military resources of the Soviet state to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union. Already, in 1986–7, the government had refused to employ force to support party leaders in the Baltic Republics. When the crisis rose to a height, counterreform attempts by the Soviet military, keen to preserve the integrity of the state, led to action against nationalists in Georgia (1989), Azerbaijan (1990), Lithuania (1991), Latvia (1991), and Moldova (1992). However, these steps were small-scale, and there was no significant violent supporting action by the 25 million Russians living within the Soviet Union but outside Russia, those, for example, who played a key role in crises in Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014.

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  • Around the same time, communism in Central and Eastern Europe finally fell, but its economic rivalry with capitalism had, of course, long since been decided. It’s easy to think that these countries were never close to the market economies, but in 1950 countries such as the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary had a GDP per capita about a quarter higher than poor Western countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece. In 1989, the eastern states were nowhere close. The eastern part of Germany was richer than West Germany before World War II. When the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989, East Germany’s GDP per capita was not even half that of West Germany’s. Of these countries, those that liberalized the most have on average developed the fastest and established the strongest democracies. An analysis of twenty-six post-communist countries showed that a 10 per cent increase in economic freedom was associated with a 2.7 per cent faster annual growth. Political and economic institutions have improved the most in the Central and Eastern European countries that are now members of the EU, not least the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Today, they are some of the freest countries in the world and have more than tripled average incomes since independence. But one can also observe a recent reformer like Georgia. It was seen as an economic basket case, but after the Rose Revolution in 2003 it increased per capita incomes almost threefold and cut extreme poverty rates by almost two-thirds.
    • Johan Norberg, The Capitalist Manifesto: Why the Global Free Market Will Save the World (2023)

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  • It is time we Georgians did not depend only on others, it is time we asked what Georgia will do for the world... Our steady course is towards European integration. It is time Europe finally saw and valued Georgia and took steps towards us.
  • Standing at David's tomb, we must say Georgia will unite, Georgia will become strong and will restore its integrity... I want all of us to do it together and I promise not to become a source of shame for you.
  • We must create the Georgia that our ancestors dreamed of, the Georgia that we dream of.
  • There was a hierarchy of material conditions in the communist world. The Yugoslavs, with the closest commercial links with the West, did best in the range and quality of goods available. Next came the East Germans, followed by the Hungarians and the Poles. Citizens of the USSR trailed in after them; and, still more galling to Russian national pride, the Georgians and Estonians in the Soviet Union enjoyed better conditions than those available to the Russians. The stereotypical Georgian, in the Russian popular imagination, was a swarthy ‘Oriental’ who smuggled oranges in large suitcases from his collective farm to the large cities of the RSFSR. That fruit could be an item of internal contraband speaks volumes about communism’s economic inefficiency.
    • Robert Service, Comrades: A History of World Communism (2009)

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