Letter: Georgia needs help from all

Sir: Helen Womack's anecdotal piece "New Robin Hoods with Georgia on their minds" (15 April) does more to inform your readers of the main issues facing the Republic of Georgia than does George Hewitt's letter in the same issue on Eduard Shevardnadze's ill-judged support for Russia's adventure in Chechnya.

Dr Hewitt makes special mention of the support of Her Majesty's Government for the Georgian leader. However, the peoples of Georgia will be better served by more informed public and official opinion abroad than they now are by both their present government's many detractors and apologists in the West. In this context the UK decision to open an embassy in the Georgian capital is to be welcomed.

In a country struggling to cope with the disastrous aftermath of its bid for independence, where little progress has been made on the repatriation of the estimated 250,000 persons displaced by the war in Abkhazia, where the economy has collapsed to such an extent that more than half this year's projected budget revenue is in the form of foreign aid and where the struggle against crime and lawlessness is far from over, Georgia needs all the help it can get. It faces the problems of its divided society with emergent institutions and an inadequate infrastructure.

It requires a constructive involvement on the part of the world at large (and of the Russian Federation in particular) as it tackles problems manifestly too overwhelming for its meagre resources and experience.

The honorary representative for Abkhazia reminds us of Bergen-Belsen. We need also to be reminded at this juncture of the recent encouraging developments in Northern Ireland and in South Africa, as people of good will seek to influence the evolution of the Republic of Georgia into a state that attempts to meet the social, cultural. economic and political aspirations of all its peoples.

Yours faithfully,

P. J. HILLERY

Edinburgh

15 April

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