The messenger logo

Georgia’s expectations of the US presidential election

By M. Alkhazashvili
Tuesday, February 12
Georgia, like every other television-equipped nation on earth, is keeping an eye on the US presidential primaries. Pundits and viewers alike mull over the consequences the race carries for the Caucasus—and come away reassured.

Georgian analysts and citizens are firmly convinced that US policy toward Georgia will not drastically change regardless of who takes the White House in November.

The US stands as Georgia’s top strategic partner, with the country’s direction of development dependent in no small part on this relationship. Even small revisions to Washington’s policy in the Caucasus would reverberate strongly in Georgia—as would changes in the Kremlin’s approach to what it has always considered its backyard.

And so the Georgian media has hailed the emergence of US Senator John McCain as the Republican’s presumptive nominee. McCain has articulated a vision of NATO and US allies in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus forming a bloc countering Russian political expansion.

Georgian analysts, however, say they are confident that a Democrat in the White House would maintain a substantively identical policy as far as Georgia is concerned.

The country has no reason to be pessimistic about the American presidential race, and despite a mild upswing in anti-Washington sentiment immediately following the disputed presidential election here, Georgians are still soundly in support of a strategic partnership with the United States. Some have misgivings, however, over whether Washington support is extended to the country or only to the country’s leadership.

Yet no viable political force here will go far in exploiting wariness of Washington, as all overtly pledge allegiance to a westward, US-backed path of Euro-Atlantic integration for Georgia. Whether that truly offers the most straightforward path to regaining Georgia’s breakaway territories, the country’s eternal top priority, is little discussed. Georgians see whatever they want to see in the promise of NATO membership, and, more realistically, they see continued overseas backing from Washington in the medium-term.