2005: Year of Defense & Economy

by Nathan Hamm on 1/3/2005

EurasiaNet reports that the new Georgian cabinet is emphasizing improvement of the country’s economy and defense capabilities in 2005.

Saakashvili … indicated that the new defense minister’s primary task will be pushing through the reforms required for Georgia’s integration into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. On the agenda: establishing closer civilian control over the defense ministry, ensuring that the general staff toes the official line on defense policies, and rooting out widespread mismanagement. [Irakli] Okruashvili is taking charge at the start of two training programs funded by the US and Turkey that will add two fully westernized infantry battalions to the Georgian military.

As for the economy,

Changes in the economics sphere are less clearly defined. [Kakha] Bendukidze, who headed up Georgia’s controversial privatization drive as economy minister, has been named state minister in charge of administrative and economic reforms – a post that some observers see as ceremonial, while others view it as a sign that a government downsizing effort is in the offing.

Bendukidze’s replacement as economy minister, former first deputy finance minister Alexi Alexishvili, is a non-partisan technocrat, and not seen as likely to challenge the influence of his predecessor. Bendukidze, whose patience for bureaucracy – and foreign aid donors — is notoriously thin, will hold responsibility for slimming down the state apparatus where it touches on economic reforms, and for ensuring that a coherent economic policy is pursued across the board.

Georgia’s parliamentary posts have changed hands many times over the past year, drawing considerable criticism.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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