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Saakashvili Regrets 'Compromising' On Reforms

  • RFE/RL

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (left) met his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in Washington earlier this week.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (left) met his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in Washington earlier this week.

WASHINGTON -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says he regrets having "compromised" on certain reforms during his tenure as head of state.

He made the comment at Washington's Georgetown University after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and World Bank officials earlier this week.

"Every time I made [a] compromise on reforms I regretted it later," Saakashvili said.

"We enacted last year a law on protection for religious minorities. [There was a] huge backlash against it. But every year we tried to adopt it we said, 'Yeah, maybe not this year [but] next year. Don't need trouble now, right?' I regret I didn't do it the first year of my presidency."

The amendment to Georgia's civil code, which went into force in July 2011, grants the status of "legal entities of public law" to minority religious groups, including the local Armenian Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Baptist Church, and the country's Muslim and Jewish communities.

Thousands had taken to the streets to protest the legislation, including the leaders of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Saakashvili was first elected in 2004 and his current term ends in 2013.

Written by Richard Solash

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