leader of the Rose Revolution is now leader
The November velvet revolution in Georgia was
crowned January 4, when Mikhail Sahakashvili gained
a landslide victory, collecting 96 percent of
votes to become president of Armenia's neighbor
to the north.
In his first televised interview, the 36 year
old Sahakashvili promised development and prosperity
for the republic and to recover the country's
loses suffered at the hands of former president
Edward Shevardnadze and his family.
Armenia welcomed the elections in Georgia with
a congratulation message from President Robert
"I am confident that the traditional friendly
relations between our people and our countries
will continue to strengthen and develop in the
spirit of mutual confidence and cooperation."
While Sahakashvili takes an oath and receives
congratulations messages, Armenian and international
analysts give their comments to the elections
in Georgia and evaluate Sahakashvili as a political
The leader of Armenia's National Security party
Garnik Isagulyan describes Sahakashvili as a "quite
emotional and radical politician."
"It is early now to give any concrete reference,"
Isagulyan says. "Sahakashvili inherited a
country with a poor economy and complicated foreign
and internal policy, including ethnic problems
of national minorities within the countries."
Sahakashvili studied in Ukraine, France and in
the United States, at Columbia University law
school, and was later hired by a law firm in New
In 2000 Sahakashvili was appointed Minister of
Justice of Georgia and resigned the post in a
year. He left the pro-presidential party Citizens'
Union of Georgia and formed United National Movement
which won in November's parliamentary elections.
Sahakashvili led the so-called "Rose Revolution"
that toppled Shevardnadze, when Sahakashvili and
his followers burst into Georgian Parliament during
a speech by Shevardnadze.
Stepan Safaryan, analyst at the Armenian Center
for National and International Studies, believes
that by this event Georgia caused a breakdown
in the whole Caucasus region by demonstrating
the victory of democracy through dethronement.
"The pre election situation in all three
countries (including Armenia an Azerbaijan) was
similar; there was a pro-governmental candidate
and strong opposition. However only Georgia succeeded
to win over the authoritarian regime," Safaryan
"There are several factors why it happened
in Georgia. The opposition there was not better
disciplined than in Armenia but the fact that
Sahakashvili's candidature was strongly supported
by the West is very important."
Alexander Iskandaryan, head of the research unit
of the Caucasus Media Institute said that the
victory of Sahakashvili was much conditioned by
the euphoria of Georgians who voted not for Sahakashvili
but rather against the former regime.
"In Armenia it was a similar situation when
Armenians voted for Levon Ter-Petrosyan in 1991,
thus demonstrating their readiness to get rid
of the former regime. And Sahakashvili made his
pre-election platform on anti-Shevardnadze rhetoric.
I think that 96 percent of votes that Sahakashvili
won is not an indication of democratic elections.
In fact people just had no alternative. I believe
in no one developed country 96 percent of voters
vote for a candidate whom they do not know well".
In Iskandaryan's opinion the 96 percent which
made Sahakashvili president was also due to Georgia's
Electoral Code which was elaborated by the US
for Secretary of State James Baker.
According to the Electoral Code the members of
the Election Committee are formed by the president
and opposition and in Georgia's elections that
was the same power.
Meanwhile, as he mentioned Sahakashvili's lack
of experience, ex-president Shevardnadze says
he is ready to assist Georgia's new president
with profitable advice. He said he voted for Sahakashvili,
whom he evaluated as skillful and with initiative.