How events in Ukraine impact Georgia
By Messenger Staff
Friday, January 24Georgia, like the rest of the world, is attentively watching the developments in Ukraine. It is not just a matter of interest, but rather concern based on the recent close and friendly relations between the two nations. Besides, the developments in Ukraine could have an impact on Georgia as well.
Ukraine is Georgia’s strategic partner politically, economically, and culturally. Both nations are Christian Orthodox. The major negative impact of the problems in Ukraine will be economic, because any kind of political crisis and unrest immediately influences business and economic relations.
Ukraine, as one of the top trade partners for Georgia, in particular after the problems with the Russian market, is of significant importance for Georgia. Problems in Ukraine will without a doubt influence Georgian exports to this country, while Ukrainian imports to Georgia will also be affected.
There are some voices in Georgia that suggest that in the case that Ukraine reorients its development in the Russian direction and joins the Eurasian Union, the Ukrainian market will become a very problematic issue for Georgia and the trade between the two countries will decrease.
Political scenarios are of a different type. Some suggest that the crisis in Ukraine and the refusal to sign the association agreement with the EU will force the European Union to assist Georgia more energetically and ultimately accelerate the process of signing the final association membership agreement between Georgia and the EU as soon as possible.
Some think EU might become frustrated if it cannot sign the association membership agreement with Ukraine and will lose interest in Georgia and Moldova altogether. That will mean halting the EU integration process, giving room to Russia to freely pursue its interests in the region.
The optimistic view is that under the current circumstances, the West, EU and NATO could make a political decision and grant Georgia NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) as well as EU association membership pretty soon. However, this is an unlikely scenario.
The immediate impact of Ukrainian events on Georgia is a political confrontation between the government and opposition. The parliamentary opposition United National Movement (UNM) thinks that the official documents concerning Ukrainian events should be more sharp and categorical; that Georgia should clear-cut determine its support to the Ukrainian people and condemn President Victor Yanukovich’s position.
They also insist on criticizing Russia’s role in creating this situation in Ukraine. However, the representatives of the Georgian government and other high-ranking officials think that the situation should not be aggravated and Georgia should not take any side in particular with regard to Russia.
A separate issue, maybe not directly connected with Ukraine, is the Sochi Olympic Games. Many analysts suggest that after the Olympic Games are over, Russia will activate various levers to force Georgia to withdraw from the EU Association Membership scheme. In this regard, it will be very important how the events unfold in Ukraine because having Victor Yanukovich as president is an ideological Russian victory. Presumably, by the beginning of March the situation in Ukraine will become clear and obvious. But in the case that the opposition succeeds, Russia’s position and influence will be diminished.
However, there is still threat in this regard that if Russia loses in Ukraine it might try to rehabilitate its power in Georgia.
The EU and US in particular should increase their support to Georgia so that on the one hand, the Georgian people can see that they are not alone, and on the other hand, Russia will realize that the world community supports Georgia.