December 6, 2012

The Nov. 28 editorial “Georgia takes the wrong turn” suggested that because former government officials have been charged with committing crimes while in office, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is somehow abandoning democracy before he even got started in office and, thus, “should not be welcome in Washington.”

On the face of it, this conclusion seems counterproductive. Georgia has just enjoyed the first democratic transfer of power in its history. Maybe we aren’t as experienced in democratic government as are many in the West. However, if that is the case, a visit to Washington could be the best way to ensure that things do develop positively. 

But, first, let’s test The Post’s thesis. President Mikheil Saakashvili’s willingness to abandon his past behavior and accept the will of the voters appears to be seen as a reason to spare scrutiny of widely reported crimes, which in themselves formed one of the major reasons for the election victory of the Georgian Dream coalition. But because democracy is so new and precious to our citizens, our government is determined to investigate the widespread evidence of violence and malfeasance, which have for so long poisoned our political life.

Putting aside such investigations would, in Georgian eyes, be a compromise of the very Western values we have sought to achieve. Mr. Ivanishvili has made clear that he intends to work with Mr. Saakashvili and that there will be no sanctions against officials only because they supported the former government. In fact, hundreds of such officials are working harmoniously with the new government. But the expectation of good working relations cannot be stretched to suggest that there should be no investigation of officials suspected of violating the public trust. 

Tedo Japaridze, Tbilisi

The writer, formerly Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, chairs the Foreign Relations Committee of the Georgian Parliament.