Georgia Wins $1 Billion Aid Pledge For Reforms

Georgia won pledges of aid on Wednesday worth around $1 billion over the next two years to help with economic reforms and fight poverty, months after a new leadership was voted into power after a bloodless revolution, reports Reuters.

The pledges from the United States, World Bank, European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as well as individual European states at an international donors‘ conference were double what was expected by Georgia. The World Bank said it backed the changes already launched. „We are convinced that it is not just words, but that the actions that have already been launched convince us there will be follow through,“ said Bank Deputy President Shigeo Katsu. Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania said reforms would include improving infrastructure like energy plants and roads and institutional change like cutting the size of government and the police. Other priorities were to spread development outside Tbilisi, particularly to the west of the country. The reintegration of the former rebel region of Adzhara would also boost the rest of the country, he said. The government reasserted control over the area in May.

Agence France Presse further writes Shigeo Katsu, noting that the pledge was higher than expected, said the new Georgian authorities „have started to put together a pretty good track record. „I think this track record as well as the vision that they have developed for the future of the country, that has been able to gain strong support from the donor community,“ he added.

The Associated Press explains the organizers didn’t give a breakdown of the $1 billion donations, but the EU said on Tuesday that it would give EUR125 million. Germany pledged EUR26 million and Sweden 54 million kronor. The United States pledged $360 million over three years starting this year. AP further notes European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday to send a „rule of law“ mission to Georgia. The EU staff will help Georgian officials write new criminal justice legislation and aid anti-corruption measures. However, Heikki Talvitie, the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus region, said on Tuesday that membership in the EU „is not on the agenda“ for Georgia.

Kyodo (Japan) adds Japan pledged $3.8 million and will accept technical trainees from Georgia, sources said. Thirty-one countries and 12 international organizations are represented in the international donors‘ conference co-chaired by the World Bank and the European Commission. The conference is expected to take up electricity shortage, corruption and other issues in Georgia in Thursday’s session.

Finally, Europe Information notes the donor conference is taking place on the eve of the European Council which will decide whether or not Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are included in the European Neighborhood Policy. This policy is designed to offer new opportunities for the EU’s eastern neighbors, but also to create a common ground of values such as democracy, good governance and human rights.

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