This week's Nuclear Security Summit included not only large nuclear powers, such as Britain and India, but also countries like Georgia -- a small state with no nuclear weapons, no nuclear energy, and no nuclear materials.
Why is a small country like Georgia relevant to the large challenges facing our world? Although the deep transformations Georgia has undertaken in recent years are important to our own people, they also are relevant to global efforts to address such crucial challenges as nuclear proliferation.
To understand Georgia's role in a global challenge like nuclear proliferation, it helps to understand how Georgia is evolving and how Georgians see their place in the world.
Just a decade ago, Georgia could not seriously speak of playing any constructive role in the world. We were, to be perfectly frank and accurate, a failed state. Major areas of our country were effectively run by warlords. The police system was corrupt beyond description, with state police extorting payments from prisoners' families and shakedowns by traffic police at almost every corner.
Young people with talent and ambition sought to join local gangs -- or they simply fled the country. Our economy was literally in the Dark Ages. Even in Tbilisi, the capital, people had electricity for only a few hours a day. Real civil liberties did not exist because there was no one to enforce them. Chaos and corruption, like their predecessor, communism, deadened any sense that merit mattered.
Against that backdrop, our Rose Revolution in 2003 was not just about waving flags and storming the Parliament. It was a decision to move our state from failed to functioning. Even more, it was an attempt to change the very relationships between our citizens and their state, and among our people. It was, simply, the start of an audacious process to create a new Georgian society.
Seven years later, we are far from declaring victory. Our people continue to face hard times, with far too much unemployment and poverty. The 2008 Russian invasion and continuing occupation of our country exacted a terrible toll. And though we made big changes, we also made big mistakes, such as our overly harsh response to the opposition street protests in November 2007. Our democratic reforms remain incomplete, a work in progress.