The Georgian Prime Minister, a leading figure in the Rose revolution, inspired his own people and the anti-corruption movement worldwide with his determination to put the fight against corruption at the top of the agenda
The whole anti-corruption movement is deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania. At Transparency International (TI), the global non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption, and TI Georgia, we send our condolences to both his family and the people of Georgia. Zurab Zhvania, who became Prime Minister of Georgia after the Rose Revolution, was found dead in the early hours of 3 February 2005. The apparent cause of death was gas poisoning.
Prime Minister Zhvania, together with his political ally Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, had close ties with TI, says TI Chairman Peter Eigen: "I met him before the Rose revolution when he was the Chairman of the Georgian Parliament and again when he was Prime Minister of Georgia. Last October, when he spoke at the international conference in Kenya on anti-corruption strategies for reform-minded governments, his intellectual brilliance, combined with his personal courage and political determination, was an inspiration to an audience of politicians and civil society leaders from every corner of the world."
The conference, New Anti-Corruption Governments: The Challenge of Delivery, organised by TI, TI Kenya and the Kenyan government, was held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 12-13 October 2004, and was designed to foster constructive dialogue on the anti-corruption strategies open to new governments and to develop key recommendations to support their efforts.
"It is impossible to imagine an independent Georgia without the imprint of Zurab Zhvania," says Mark Mullen, Chairman of TI Georgia. "For many years, he was the centre of the democratic forces in Georgia, and he personally outlined the structure of lawmaking in the country. A successful politician and brilliant manager, he always stood for tolerance and broad-based consultation."
When the change of government came, says Mullen, "Prime Minister Zhvania was a steady hand and a force for peace throughout the process. His broad and deep education brought international insight as he designed Georgia's reform process over the last decade and piloted the economy over the last year. Zhvania was both an extremely courageous politician who understood why it was so important to fight corruption, and a successful practitioner in undertaking concrete steps in the implementation of anti-corruption strategies."
His dramatic presentation in Kenya created discussion around the world about the "Georgian model" of moving quickly to fight impunity. He closed his speech at the conference by urging those present to "use your chance, you will not have another one." Despite his tragic death, Zurab Zhvania used his chance and made a lasting impact on Georgia and on the international anti-corruption movement. He has left an important legacy and will be missed by all those who knew and worked with him.
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