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Western orientation: target for terrorism

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, October 7
Integration with the West is undoubtedly a priority for Georgian society and the Georgian political spectrum. But as always high expectations have led to frustration to disappointment. The once-overwhelming enthusiasm for the West is fading a bit, as it was hoped joining Western European structures would resolve the country’s most vital problems: its territorial integrity and sovereignty. In fact there is a feeling that the Russian aggression against Georgia was a response to its pro-Western orientation and the West did not protect Georgia when it should therefore have done so.

Perhaps the Georgian administration is to be blamed for this disappointment as it seeded very big promises and expectations in the population, which may have been exaggerated. But nobody from the West told Georgia to lower its high and often highly unrealistic expectations. At the most critical moment in the recent history of Georgia Western reaction was not immediate and very moderate, the population is saying. Today the West is blaming Saakashvili and his administration for not correctly estimating the situation and taking wrong steps, but it is unlikely that the Russian aggression could have been avoided, and the mousetrap which had been set for Georgia was created precisely because Georgia had become very direct in its pursuit of the West. Georgians are also frustrated because the Bucharest NATO summit did not grant the country the Membership Action Plan which they believe would have prevented Russia from taking military action, although maybe it would not have done, as countries undergoing the MAP process do not have the rights of full members.

Some time ago Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden mentioned Georgia in a radio message. He did not threaten Georgia with terrorist attack but mentioned it as a vivid example of how America could betray an ally. Of course Bin Laden’s accusations should be ignored, as US assistance was kind and appropriate, but Al Qaeda being interested in this country is already worrying.

Tbilisi’s policy has not adjusted to the US decision to reset its relations with Russia. Neither the US nor EU want to irritate Russia by demonstratively assisting Georgia. Some opposition members here ask why Georgia should be trying to irritate other forces and possibly trigger a different type of aggression against Georgia. For instance, the population has expressed its concern over the possibility of Guantanamo prisoners being sent to Georgia. Independent analysts think that this idea came from Georgia’s current administration, which wants to prove its loyalty to the US, but it could make Georgia the target of terrorist attacks. The same official attitude can be observed when the deployment of a Georgian military contingent in Afghanistan is discussed, although this too will not be a popular move with states which can easily threaten this tiny country.

The administration should explain clearly to the public what the benefits of Georgia’s participation in NATO operations in Afghanistan are. People expect clear cut answers to many questions. Georgians appreciate Western values, and as the Government should know transparency is one of those values, so if it wants to integrate with the West it should behave accordingly.