Georgia's multinational state
Georgia was the most multi-ethnic country when it declared independence from the Soviet Union. With more than 80 ethnic groups represented in Georgia, the issue of national minorities is considered to be very delicate and politically risky. Georgia's Azeri and Armenian minorities are underrepresented in almost all official decision-making structures and remain considerably alienated from the socio- economic and political life of Georgia. These minorities exhibit a poor knowledge of Georgian language and it effectively hinders their access to higher education, information, representation in public affairs, especially government. The bloody conflict experiences in South Ossetia and Abkhazia have created fears among Georgians, who think other minorities also seek further disintegration of Georgia and have hidden nationalist cravings . President Saakashvili has indeed taken some steps to improve the lives of minorities, but the reforms are mainly half-hearted and insufficient when a significant part of the population still does not speak the same language and feel alienated.