Generous International Aid to Georgia

Georgia's Western backers led by the United States and the European Union promised $4.5 billion in new aid at an international donors conference to help the ex-Soviet republic rebuild after its war with Russia.

The pledges raised exceeded the asked-for $3.2 billion based on an assessment made by the World Bank and the United Nations, despite the financial crisis that has forced many governments to pour billions into rescuing national banks and lending institutions over recent weeks.

The large pledges were seen as a new affront to Moscow by the United States and the EU, which vehemently opposed Russia's move last August to invade Georgia.

Georgia also aspires to join the NATO alliance.

Georgia's Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze said "We are deeply moved and humbled by the demonstration of solidarity and support that we have received.” He added that the total aid "far exceeded the expectations" especially given the financial crisis.

Georgian groups opposing President Mikhail Saakashvili appealed to donors in Brussels to ensure the aid was not used to pay for rebuilding Georgia's armed forces or to prop up Saakashvili's government but to improve the dire human rights situation in Georgia and allow better press freedom.


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