- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2008

GEORGIA, A SYMPTOM

As U.S. ambassador in Czechoslovakia in 1992, Adrian A. Basora watched the former Warsaw Pact nation, which had emerged from the shadows of the Iron Curtain only three years earlier, build a strong democracy and peacefully split into the Czech and Slovak republics in 1993.

Now he fears that democracy is struggling in some European nations and former Soviet republics that had failed to make the transition from communism and remain oppressed by authoritarian governments, bungling bureaucracies and a new class of corrupt oligarchs who replaced Marxist apparatchiks.

In a new paper written for the Foreign Policy Research Institute with Jean F. Boone, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, Mr. Basora argues that the Russian invasion of Georgia in August was a symptom of a broader threat. They noted that Russia, for instance, reverted to an authoritarian government, despite holding elections.

“Long before the Russians entered Georgia, democracy was clearly on the retreat in post-communist Europe and Eurasia, as was the leverage of both the United States and the democratic European powers,” they wrote.

They called the continuing crisis in Georgia a “dramatic new manifestation of the longer-term trends underlying the erosion” of Western influence in the region.

“Reversing these trends will require more than simply outmaneuvering Russia in Georgia,” they said, adding that the “Georgia events are a wake-up call.”

They urged the administration of the next U.S. president to:

• “Reclaim the vocabulary of democracy” by effectively communicating concepts like the rule of law, multiparty systems, freedom of expression, a civil society and free and fair elections;

• “Support processes, not leaders” by working with democratic advocates in states with authoritarian governments;

• Combine support for nation-building with “society-building” programs to promote more citizen activism;

• Work more closely with European allies and institutions such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and NATO;

• And “promote trade as well as aid.”

“Sustained interest and attention by the United States can make a difference in restoring positive democratic momentum in the formerly communist area, but only if our programs are seen as demand-driven and non-intrusive,” they said.

“Rather than appearing to impose our own model of democracy-promotion, our appeal should be based on the prospect of building a better life for people in the transitional countries themselves.”

GREEK THANKS CONGRESS

The Greek ambassador used a briefing with Capitol Hill aides to thank Congress for siding with Greece in its dispute over the name of its northern neighbor, which the United States recognizes as Macedonia.

Ambassador Alexandros P. Mallias, who met last week with aides to Senate and House members who deal with European issues, referred to the nation as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM, the name under which it was admitted to the United Nations. Greece objects to the use of the word Macedonia, which has ancient connections to Greece.

He noted House and Senate resolutions that called on Macedonia “to cease hostile propaganda against Greece and reach a mutually agreeable solution with Greece on the name issue.” Mr. Mallias, in his briefing with the 35 staffers, also discussed Greece’s efforts to promote stability in the Balkans.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.