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How comfortable is sitting on two chairs?

By Messenger Staff
Monday, March 9
How comfortable is sitting on two chairs? There are several points of view. Until now the universal opinion has been that it is extremely risky for someone to sit like this, as they could fall through the gap between the chairs onto the floor. Someone seeing this would find it funny and laugh at the sight. The two chairs will presumably be quite happy, as they will have less weight to carry, unless they are very disciplined chairs who know what their mission is – to make life easier for those who trust in them.

NATO has decided to restore full scale relations with Russia but simultaneously condemn it for its policies towards Georgia. NATO spokesperson James Appathurai calls this a “sitting on two chairs policy.” According to him this is a positive thing.

NATO has taken this position unanimously. Therefore it clearly feels it will be quite comfortable sitting on two chairs. One country, Lithuania, for several hours fought an unequal battle trying to persuade the alliance not to make concessions to Russia, but inevitably it lost. The question is: when will someone fall through the gap between the chairs, if it is to happen?

The two chairs are called NATO-Russia and Georgia. The latter solidly supports NATO. Sometimes it loses its balance as a result of mismanagement but its intentions are good and NATO-oriented. As for the NATO–Russia chair, two of its four legs are firmly fixed and NATO supporting but another two are made of a changeable material which is sometimes hard and sometimes soft. You can never tell which form it will take next. In short, it is unpredictable. So there is always a great risk of someone falling on the floor if these two legs let them down.

The Georgian Foreign Minister thinks that NATO will now demand from Russia that it stops building military bases on the occupied territories and fulfils its international commitments. Both Georgia’s leadership and Parliamentary opposition welcome the NATO decision. “This is the way NATO will resolve Georgia-related problems with Russia” thinks Vice Speaker of Parliament Machavariani. From the opposition Christian Democratic Party Levan Vephkhvadze also considers that the “international community has decided to influence it (Russia) through involving it in the negotiations.” Independent analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze also sees in the NATO decision to reestablish full relations with Russia certain positive elements for Georgia. “Georgia is not forgotten, but NATO takes Russia into account,” Sakvarelidze states.

The non-Parliamentary opposition however, considers NATO’s decision a failure of Georgian diplomacy. Leader of the Republicans Davit Usupashvili states that influential international organizations and the leaders of major countries unfortunately prefer normalizing relations with Russia to helping Georgia, as they see an unreliable leadership in Georgia which will create problems for them. It is interesting here to observe the Russian response to the decision. Almost all Russian political leaders and commentators express their utmost satisfaction with it because Russia has achieved what it wanted - occupying Georgian territory, establishing and recognizing puppet regimes there and now hastily building up its military presence there. According to Russian analysts the world has swallowed Russian imperialistic claims, however hard they were to force down. Russia, it seems to them, is the only winner in this latest phase of the diplomatic game.

So let’s come back to our chairs. NATO keeps its door open for Georgia but still tries to treat the Russian monster in a civilized way and thereby tame it. So Georgia has to accept this reality, like it or not, as there is only one alternative to NATO – a return to Russian slavery. However it is now very difficult for Georgia to even come close to entering NATO because it has created for itself the image of troublemaker. It is even harder to sit on two chairs when they are different sizes.

Though these chairs may become firmer they still bear the same threat of imbalance and instability two chairs always do. Georgia has to increase its level of democracy considerably if it ever wants to join NATO. But if the person who tried to sit on two chairs falls down, who do others laugh at – the chairs or the person?