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Georgia facing difficult problems

By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 10
There are different speculations concerning Barack Obama’s Moscow visit. One thing is clear, as Georgian analysts and political figures keep repeating: Russia will not repeat last year’s military assault on Georgia. However something else is also becoming ever clearer: Russia’s occupation of Georgia’s territory will continue, and no mention is being made of restoring the pre-war status quo, despite the Sarkozy agreement.

Now and then Georgia’s international direction becomes the subject of discussion. Most political forces in Georgia would retain its existing pro-Western orientation. Nobody openly supports an orientation towards Russia, but some are frustrated by a pro-Western policy. It is now difficult to understand why the victorious Rose Revolution leaders immediately gave bold promises that integration with Euro Atlantic institutions was just a matter of time and by 2008 Georgia would be member of both NATO and the EU. That fifth year of the post-revolutionary administration was its toughest and Georgia’s hopes were frustrated, though perhaps not permanently.

No one disputes that Russia’s aggression was motivated by Georgia’s Western orientation. Moscow was very angry that Tbilisi was ready to become an essential part of the Eurasian corridor, thus enabling the implementation of big energy projects bypassing Russia. Georgia insisted on Russia withdrawing its military bases from the country and when this finally happened openly stated that its foreign policy priority was joining NATO. By taking a clear cut pro-Western position Georgia created a situation in which different transit projects could be implemented. If Tbilisi had taken a different position, it would not have been possible to establish the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline or the Shah Deniz gas pipeline or undertake such projects as the Baku-Kars railway, NABUCCO etc. Georgia has not received very much financially from these projects and in fact it did not expect much. The major thing it was looking for was guarantees of its territorial integrity, sovereignty and general security.

Unfortunately the benefits and support Georgia received for taking its Western orientation were much smaller than the level of Russia’s aggression against Georgia, which was inspired exactly by Georgia’s Western aspirations. Maybe the people of Georgia were deceived by the promises the administration made. Maybe Georgia’s administration actually started believing the fairy tales it was brainwashing its population with. Maybe the promises the Georgian leadership were making were based on illusion and not reality, but the consequences were devastating. Georgia lost the war, lost territories, lost hundreds of people and several thousand of its population became homeless. It appears that false expectations, which it knew to be false, were actively engendered by the current Georgian administration.

The feeling of frustration is slowly but steadily growing in the Georgian population. One political commentator has even said that if a genuine poll or referendum was conducted asking whether Georgia needs to enter NATO, there is a high probability that the answer would be no. There is now common speculation about Georgia distancing itself from the West, adopting a policy of neutrality and so on. If this happens Georgia can develop an absolutely different type of relationship with Russia, but although the northern bear heard Obama’s remarks about Georgia it is unlikely to retreat from its aggressive policy towards it.