Georgia: West doubts country’s democrasy

Saakashvili, 38, came to power in the November 2003 Rose Revolution, which promised to restore the country's territorial integrity, fight corruption and reform the economy. However, he has seen his popularity plunge halfway through his five-year term and is accused of rolling back democratic freedoms.

Washington, which is competing with Russia for influence in the region and values the South Caucasus nation as a transit route for Caspian oil to the West, firmly supports the Georgian leader. He meets U.S President George W. Bush at the White House on Wednesday.

But some Western European governments are concerned over his democratic record. That is casting doubt over Georgia's goal of joining NATO in 2008, according to a Western diplomat in Tbilisi who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, according to the AP.

In March, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's envoy to Georgia expressed concern about media freedoms, due process and independence of the judiciary.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team