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Georgia deserted?

By Messenger Staff
Friday, March 13
The Georgian media is full of information about the article from Stratfor Analytical Centre which concludes that the USA and EU have deserted Georgia, leaving it to face Russia alone.

Georgian political analysts consider such a suggestion exaggerated but they all highlight that the Western attitude towards Moscow has become visibly more tolerant, meaning Georgia has to carry out certain corrections and modifications of its position.

If the Stratfor analysis is correct it will be catastrophic for Georgia. The article assumes that although Georgia is a pro-Western country and distinctly NATO-oriented the West cannot protect it from Russian aggression. This message was conveyed to Tbilisi on March 5 during the visit to Brussels of Prime Minister Nika Gilauri by Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, the article says. It adds that this was repeated by EU Foreign Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who even advised Gilauri and the Georgian side to try reestablishing relations with Russia.

Does this mean that Georgia is left staring at Russia and the West has washed its hands of us? Georgian analysts categorically deny this possibility. “This contradicts American as well as European national interests,” suggests Soso Tsintsadze. Nearly the same opinion is shared by Gia Khukhashvili and Soso Tsiskarishvili, who added that “ To stand face to face with Georgia is Russia’s hope but not the reality.”

The situation however is as such: on March 10 Ferrero-Waldner made a very serious statement regarding Moscow, saying that EU and Russian positions concerning Georgia are significantly different. She also stressed the necessity of “Russia fulfilling its commitments to withdraw its troops from Moldova and Georgia.” The draft document published on March 8 stated that “the negotiations on a new cooperation agreement between the EU and Russia must not be seen as legitimizing the status quo in Georgia.”

The Georgian political establishment of course prefers to comment on such statements rather than critical ones. The State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Gia Baramidze commenting on the EU position, said that Russia is becoming more and more aggressive towards its neighbours, which naturally raises the EU’s concern. It is therefore positive that the EU has decided to demand guarantees from Russia more energetically. However despite these developments Georgian political analysts and the general population have observed that the West’s positions towards Georgia and Russia have been modified. Immediately after the war Georgia received huge moral, humanitarian and financial support. However things have changed since then. Georgia’s former Ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili, commenting on recent developments, agrees that NATO does recognize Georgia’s territorial integrity but it glosses over the fact that Russia has occupied a large part of our territory and has resumed relations with Russia despite this.

There are many opinions on foreign policy developments, but the major focus of public concern at present is the internal political situation, in particular what will happen when the opposition protests start on 9 April. The Georgia we end up with when the protests stop may be a very different place to the one we live in now. Will it be a country the West is prepared to confront Russia over?