"Georgian Dream": a month in office (part 2)

Tue, 27/11/2012 - 10:03

Foreign Policy Aspects

Today we can state with confidence that the new Georgian political elite does not intend to change its former main foreign policy priority. It is no coincidence that his first visit Ivanishvili has paid to Brussels to meet with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, President of European Council Herman Van Rompuy, the heads of the European Parliament and European Commission Martin Schulz and Jose Manuel Barroso. During the talks it was announced a commitment of Tbilisi to Euro-Atlantic integration of the country. Maya Panjikidze in her speech made it clear that Georgia "is going to join" only the EU and NATO.
Against this background, the authorities have kept a wide range for the development of relations with Russia. With the formation of the government was also established the position of special representative for the settlement of relations with Russia. To this position was appointed the Soviet diplomat, the Georgian ambassador to Russia in 2000-2004, Zurab Abashidze. November 13, Abashidze in his interview to the German edition "Deutsche Welle" pointed to Tbilisi's readiness for "honest dialogue" with Moscow on the issue of Georgia's foreign policy priorities. According to him, he has acknowledged the presence of Moscow's arguments that will convince the Georgian military and political leadership in the groundlessness of the course of the Euro-Atlantic integration. In addition, representatives of the Georgian government made a number of trade and economic initiatives to the Russian Federation. So, in late October, David Kirvalidze announced the readiness for dialogue with Moscow on the return of the Georgian production to the Russian market. In turn, Kakha Kaladze noted Georgia's desire to import electricity from Russia from January 2013.
Demonstrating willingness for the dialogue with Russia, the Georgian side is ready to use the European mediators. During the recent talks between Maya Panjikidze and her German counterpart Guido Westerwelle it was announced the readiness of the German Foreign Ministry to promote rapprochement between Moscow and Tbilisi. However, the new government has recognized that the restoration of diplomatic relations with Moscow is possible only if Russia abandon its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The government of Ivanishvili intends to pursue a policy of consistent restoration of the Georgian sovereignty over Sukhum and Tskhinval. In a series of interviews to foreign media Zakareishvili said that the first steps in this direction should be the joint non-political projects. In this context, he pointed to the possibility of opening a road and rail link via Abkhazia to Georgia, as well as the recognition of the legitimacy of the South Ossetian and Abkhazian passports throughout the territory of the Republic of Georgia.
Constructive initiatives towards Russia have met the understanding in Moscow. Thus, the assignment of Abashidze has been welcomed in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin has declared that Abashidze is known as the "man of experience and a diplomat." November 14, First Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said that Georgia and Russia were ready to come to the practical solution of the question of the return of Georgian wine to the Russian market. In several statements Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the CIS secretariat expressed hope for the return of Georgia to the Commonwealth of Independent States. At the same time, Russian officials have not commented on the version of the Georgian government on the restoration of diplomatic relations. However, this is natural. Moscow has long ago formulated clearly its attitude to the Abkhazian and South Ossetian sovereignty. That's flat. It is unnecessary to remind of it once again.
Some experts have already expressed concern about the possible change in the Russian policy towards Georgia because of the change of the authorities in Tbilisi. So, according to some analysts, the two factors - "the Georgian lobby in Moscow that can push almost any decision," and the notorious "Kremlin-corruption" - can have a devastating impact on the fate of nations, recently freed from Georgia. It is expressed anxiety, whether Russia is going to "surrender" Tskhinval and Sukhum for the prompt geopolitical loyalty of Georgia? I recall in this context the "dashing 1990s", when Russia, allegedly, left South Ossetia "without physical protection from the aggression of the Georgian national extremists, trying to stop the alienation of Georgia, trying to transformit into the anti-Russian foothold in the South Caucasus."
Though, this anxiety is illogical and farfetched. First, the 1990s are in the past. Russia is not more plagued with contradictions related to the transition period. The Russian state, having the proper will, is able to protect its allies from the immediate environment. The continuing flow of investment and the growth of the Russian cultural relations between Moscow, Tskhinval and Sukhum is the striking demonstration of this fact. The statements of the critical level of corruption in the higher echelons of the Russian authorities are rather ambiguous. Despite individual cases, they usually find a complete understanding among the Russian marginal opposition and foreign enemies. Far from the reality are the statements of the presence of the almighty Georgian lobby in Moscow. The era of Stalin and Beria ended in 1953, and the last major Kremlin functionary of the Georgian origin Eduard Shevardnadze has moved to Tbilisi very long ago. The Georgians, living in Russia, in comparison with the other people of the country, do not have any special privileges.
Against this background are, certainly, valid the individual statements of the official representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that with the advent of the "Georgian Dream" Tbilisi's policy in relation to these republics, in principle, has not changed. The "stick" has only given the way to the "carrot". Meanwhile, one could have hardly expected so soon serious progress in this matter from any new Georgian government, which is only expressing the aspirations of the population. In the last twenty years Georgia was ruled by the power, which was promoting by all means the hidebound national exclusiveness of "indigenous ethnos". The ideology, reigning in the minds of the Georgian intelligentsia, smells of the European chauvinist fever in late XIX - early XX centuries, or its successor - national-socialism of the 30s of the last century. Thus, the developmental lagging of the country amounts to not even fifty but a hundred years. It would be absurd to believe that this disease can be cured in a day.
Many analysts and researchers have explained the emergence of the man-hating ideology in, virtually, all corners of the Soviet Union due to the loss of former strong economic ties. In this context, the first month of ruling of the "Georgian Dream" gives grounds for hope. Restoration of the former economic cooperation with Russia and the CIS countries will definitely boost the Georgian contacts with other nations. Sooner or later, the people of Georgia will know the whole truth about the crimes of their former regime. There is no doubt that the fundamental improvement of the consciousness of the majority of our neighboring nation can in the future ensure voluntary and deserved rejection of violent assaults on the sovereignty of other nations, including the territorial aspect. Today it is not a secret that the ruling coalition, before it has come to power, declared about the true nature of the war in August 2008. Is it not a serious ideological shift in the consciousness of the Georgian political elite?
After reading this material, the reader, perhaps, will think that the author is too optimistic in his arguments, that he has missed the "Borjomi" and prefers it to "Bagiata" or "Auadkhara." But you shouldn't think that! The reality is that Georgia with its problems is still our neighbor. Any changes in its territory, regardless of our wish, will affect our daily life and vice versa. The advent of power of the new government in this country, accompanied by the departure from the political scene of the neo-Nazi criminal regime, cannot but inspire hope in a modern civilized society. And first of all, in those countries that seriously suffered from Georgia - South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia. However, the good hope should not upstage pragmatism. History has clearly demonstrated, that the political forces, which come to power under the noble slogans, often establish anti-national and totalitarian regime in a flash.

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