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Key Economic Data
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 3,937 3,324 3,100 126
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 830 650 590 145
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 322 - (25/10/07)

Lashing out at Russia
It is irksome to be harrassed. But sometimes it can be convenient too. 

President Mikhail Saakashvili was in a political jam in early October. His dismissal of a security minister on September 28 had the opposition in uproar, with street demonstrations. The minister had accused him of nefarious activities, even a request for a convenient murder by security forces.

One might as well be in Russia! 
As it so happens, Russia came to the rescue - as a scapegoat. 

Saakashvili praised Georgian grape farmers for not "kneeling down" despite the Russian embargo on Georgian wine, in a speech in the eastern province of Kakheti on October 15.

He also promised tractors and fertilizers next year and lashed out at what he suggested was a "staged" vineyard protest, broadcast on Imedi TV, the media company co-owned by business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who also heads the main opposition group.

After visiting various vineyards in Kakheti, Georgia's main grape-growing province, the president delivered a speech at the vintage-end festival in Telavi. Saakashvili invited Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian health inspectors to try Georgian wine in Kakheti, "to show them that Georgia is not kneeling down and that it is impossible to defeat Georgia." 

In March 2006, Russia placed a ban on Georgian wine imports, ostensibly on health and safety grounds. The embargo has severely affected Georgia's wine industry, as Russia formerly bought an estimated 70 percent of the country's wine exports.

Saakashvili reiterated his claims that the embargo was being levied by Russia to pressure Georgia into surrendering its breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

The wine issue has become a political focal point in recent weeks, as a particularly fruitful vintage caused grape prices to plummet, hitting farmers hard and compounding the problems caused by the embargo.

The political opposition has accused the government of not doing enough to assuage the situation. Referring to a recently aired Imedi TV report in which a vineyard owner purportedly destroyed his crop in protest at not being able to obtain a reasonable price, Saakshvili remarked, "Some people…take money for cutting down their vines and showing it on TV. But others are working round the clock to sell their harvest in order to strengthen both their own families and the entire country." 

Ruling majority MPs have suggested the Imedi TV report was staged and that the farmer was paid off, as part of an attempt by Patarkatsishvili to discredit the government.
Saakashvili also appeared to compare Markozashvili, a Georgian historical figure famous for betraying King Erekle II of Kakheti and Kartli, with Patarkatsishvili. "Today people like Markozashvili have TV stations, today people like Markozashvili have money and various means, but they do not have the Georgian people's support."

Acknowledging that this had been a particularly tough year for the wine industry, he promised the provision of many tractors and a "great quantity" of fertilizers, as well as a doubling of Georgian wine exports by 2008. "This means that if we have the same harvest next year," the president added, "we will sell it far easier." 

                                           *******

Patarkatsishvili's vision of happy Georgia 
The opposition are clamouring for elections in the spring. Following the adoption of the manifesto by the united opposition, Georgian business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili published his vision of the development of Georgia. 

Historical aims and strategic priorities of Georgia
A) Historical aims of Georgia
Three historical aims face Georgia: independence, territorial integrity and democratization of all spheres of the country having vital importance; at present, the country has achieved only part of them, but some very important results on its way to fulfill these historical aims.

A1) Independence
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia achieved political independence and its political status as an independent sovereign democratic state has been to precisely defined under the constitution of the country. However, Georgia's political independence necessarily needed and needs today to be strengthened by economical independence. 

A2) Territorial Integrity 
The hardest legacy of the country ensued as a result of the revolutionary changes in the 1990s . They involved a partial loss of territorial integrity. 
It must be noted that all countries included in the former Soviet Union (except the Baltic countries and Belarus) faced problems of separatism. The Kremlin had ruled for centuries by divide and rule. 
In this context, solution of the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia becomes basic for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia, in turn essential for democratization. 

A3) Democratization 
The main essence of revolutionary change experienced by Georgia, as well as other post-Soviet countries, lies in democratization of all spheres of society. 
During the period since achieving independence, the Georgian people and the first and second presidents laid the foundation for their new democratic political system and new market economy. In essence, an irreversible process of democratic reforms has started. 
This means that the revolutionary process is over in Georgia and the country has transferred to the stage of evolutionary development, which has to prove to all citizens of Georgia the advantage of new political and economical construction in comparison with the former, communist one. 

B) Strategic priorities of Georgia 
The first and main strategic priority of Georgia lies in achieving the economical independence of the country.

Lack of resources, first of all of energy carriers, made Georgia objectively to appear in a very grave condition. 

In spite of it, the Georgian people tried to pass a very difficult exam - to change their mentality. The essence of market economics lies not in economical mechanisms alone, but also in mentality. Today, the majority of population has realized the necessity of taking responsibility for their own lives and well-being of their own families. They are not waiting any more, for the king, secretary general of Central Committee or state official to solve their problems.

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