There are two reasons why I very much hope that a real and true peace will return to Georgia as soon as possible. The first is a very obvious one: war of course means that people are being killed and injured. But the second reason may be just as important: wars can easily destroy everything a country has been building up for very long periods of time: its infrastructure, its economy and its democratic institutions. And they can do that very quickly.

Starting in 2003 with the Rose Revolution – possibly the greatest moment in this small country’s painful history! – the country has done a lot of very positive reforms. To be sure, it has made some mistakes, too, and messing with a powerful and aggressive Russia might have been the biggest one. There have also been some political setbacks just before the war. Freedom House still calls it only “Partly Free”, and Amnesty has protested some of its politics concerning the rule of law. But, all in all, Georgia has been on the right track for some years now, and this is especially true for its economy, which has been one of the fastest growing not only in the region, but around the globe.

The Cato Institute held a very interesting and hopeful policy briefing on Georgia’s successes and difficulties in May 2008. You can watch or listen to it here:

Georgia’s Transformation into a Modern Market Economy

“Featuring Kakha Bendukidze, Head of the State Chancellery, Georgia, with comments by Andrei Illarionov, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute, and Former Economic Adviser to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Moderated by Ian Vásquez, Cato Institute.

Following the Rose Revolution of 2003, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia began far-reaching reforms in governance and economic policy that are turning the country into a post-socialist success story. Georgia now ranks 44th out of 141 countries on the Economic Freedom of the World index, is cited by the World Bank as one of the world’s leading reformers, and is sustaining economic growth of more than 9 percent per year. Kakha Bendukidze, one of Georgia’s key reformers, will explain how his country is rapidly modernizing and will share his vision for continued high growth in a sometimes hostile neighborhood. Andrei Illarionov will assess Georgia’s progress and highlight its remaining challenges in consolidating democratic capitalism.”