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Stranger among its own

11.08.2015 14:47

It's been seven years since the Georgian aggression in South Ossetia, which largely determined the further development of a regional geopolitical structure in the Caucasus. The response to Georgia's attack was the declaration of independence by two republics - Abkhazia and South Ossetia, who have chosen a policy of Eurasian development through comprehensive cooperation with Russia. What has changed since then, what is the condition of the Tbilisi's relations with regional countries and the young republics who have their personal historical accounts with the Georgian leadership?

After President Mikhail Saakashvili's retirement, the main mastermind of solving territorial problems with force, Tbilisi's military rhetoric has changed dramatically - a decidion was made to return the rebellious republics with the help of a long-term government program "Engagement through Cooperation". The strategy involves the "reintegration of the occupied territories" through the establishment of economic and cultural relations, restoration of infrastructure, etc. However, the program does not answer the basic question - who will be responsible for war crimes against the people of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

According to many experts, Tbilisi's posture - unwilling to talk on equal terms with the authorities of proclaimed republics (or "occupied territories" in the Georgian version), minimizes the already small chance of opening a dialogue between the three countries.
Nevertheless, the Georgian authorities are still unsure of his political course oriented towards integration into the European and NATO structures. In fact, the post-Soviet countries, Georgia is the only Eastern bloc (except Turkmenistan, preaching his exceptional independence), who stoically bears the banner of a pro-Western, while ignoring historically and geographically established ties with Eurasian neighbors.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that Georgia's European integration is being slightly delayed - things have not moved further then expectating the signing of documents and performing the activities of the NATO integration plan. It almost seems that the process of fulfilling requirements for compliance with EU and NATO membership for Georgia will continue indefinitely.

However, Tbilisi has some success in this direction. On July 25, 2015 the head of the European Parliament delegation Elmar Brok noted the significant progress of Georgia on its way to the EU at a meeting with the Georgian Prime Minister, highly assessed the reforms the country has taken in security and judicial departments.

July 28 it became known about the ratification of the Association Agreement by Spain Georgia and Moldova and the European Union, providing for the establishment of free trade zones. Under the agreement, Georgia has committed itself to reforms in the field of economy, trade and judicial system. Of the 28 EU countries have ratified the document 24 states, all of Belgium, Greece, Italy and France.

At the same time, some unresolved problems persist in case with Georgia's NATO integration. The Georgian army is engaged in NATO military exercises and international military operations, it's trying to carry out the construction of the national armed forces in accordance with block's standards, builds NATO military facilities on it's territory, and organizes the training of soldiers with the help of American military instructors.

However, Georgia's role seems to be limited within "NATO ally" borders. The main opponents of Georgian membership in NATO are such European giants as Germany, France and Italy, who do not want another round of political confrontation with Moscow, which opposes NATO's growth at the expense of post-Soviet countries. Even some some Georgian politicians doubt the idea of Tbilisi's future NATO membership. According to the special representative of the Georgian Prime Minister for the settlement of relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, he does not believe in Georgia's integration into NATO.

"Georgia's accession to NATO - is not a question discussed today, and it won't be considered tomorrow," - Abashidze said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Tbilisi is a potent anti-Russian information mouthpiece in the Caucasus region, however, this mission becomes harder by the day. The recent Georgian attempt to join EU sanctions against Russia ended shortly. On July 30, the Georgian State Minister for Integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, Davit Bakradze announced the "automatic accession of the country to the anti-Russian sanctions." However, on August 4, after Rospotrebnadzor's announcement of "systematic violations of production technology" in Georgian wines, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the aforementioned Zurab Abashidze said that official Tbilisi did not join the European Union's decision to extend the sanctions.

Tbilisi's detached position among the former east wing Soviet republics is mostly evident in the background of BRICS, EurAsEC (recently joined by Kyrgyzstan) and SCO (which started a mechanism of acceptance for India and Pakistan) gaining momentum. Those three organisations rallied Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, China, Russia Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and several other countries  in a strong military-economic union. According to analysts the implementation the such large countries as India and Pakistan, with billions of populace, nuclear weapons, a fast-growing economy and an important geo-strategic position into SCO structure, will lead to a significant increase in its international prestige.

Currently, Georgia clearly states its foreign policy choices must be respected by all parties of the global political process. At the same time, the situation with Georgia seems more and more corresponding to the name of a famous Soviet movie "A friend among foes, a foe among his own". Tbilisi does not find understanding among it's closest neighbors and stays a stranger to the Europeans, not hurrying to take their "Caucasus friend" into their inner circle.