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Where does Georgia stand on the agenda of Western politics?

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, June 23
Significant developments in recent weeks - the NATO summit, the EU-US summit, the Putin-Biden meeting - have shown the place of Georgia in Western politics. It is clear that Georgia's integration into Western structures - NATO and the EU - is not a matter of the near future. Another question is what the Georgian government can do to speed up this process.

Georgia's last two governments, the National Movement and the Georgian Dream, have consistently stated their Western orientation - their desire to join NATO and the European Union, albeit in the short term. The Georgian Dream government recently announced that it would apply to join the European Union in 2024. However, skeptical predictions have already been made regarding this promise.

The Western-oriented political opposition accuses the Georgian Dream of doing virtually nothing since 2012, during its eight years in power, to implement the country's chosen Western course. The reason for this is considered to be the course of ‘not irritating Russia’ declared by the formal and informal leader of the coalition from the very beginning. According to this concept, Georgia should not have been the subject of controversy between Russia and the West. For Georgia, the only hope to stop Russian aggression is the support of the West.

In this regard, it is interesting to note the important events in world politics in recent days, where the mention of Georgia, or, conversely, the failure to get into the issues discussed, well illustrates the real place of Georgia in Western politics.

A summit of 30 NATO member states was held in Brussels on June 14. The communique reiterated, among other issues, the decision of the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia (as well as Ukraine) would become a member of the Alliance and that Russia could not block the process, but no specific date was set. Named and it will not be considered in the near future.

At the same time, if in the past it was sometimes said in Georgia that the MAP might not have been needed to join the Alliance, now it has been directly stated that Georgia's membership in NATO will be possible only as a result of the "Membership Action Plan". NATO continues to strongly support Georgia's territorial integrity, calling on Russia to end its occupation of Georgian territory and to withdraw its recognition of the "independence" of Sukhumi and Tskhinvali.

An important news item regarding Georgia in the NATO Brussels Summit Communique is the mention of the April 19 agreement, which will help Georgia to "move forward on the path to membership". In other words, Georgia's integration into NATO will depend on the building of democratic institutions in Georgia. Clearly, this further enhances the importance of fulfilling the agreement reached through the mediation of Charles Michel.

After meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Brussels on March 17, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized the importance of developing democratic institutions and expressed hope that "Georgia will adhere to the democratic standards it has worked so hard to develop in recent years."

Georgia was also discussed at the US-EU summit on June 15. The joint statement referred to Georgia as a victim of Russian aggression with Ukraine and stressed the need to strengthen cooperation in the context of the Eastern Partnership, but for that Georgia must fulfill its obligations to develop democracy.

At the same time, the EU has published a new strategy on relations with Russia, which also mentions Georgia. The document talks about Russia's direct military and hybrid actions in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, where Russia is trying to present itself as a mediator but is in fact a party to the conflict. The EU will also pay special attention to Russia's continuing violations of international law in relation to Georgia and Ukraine.

As for the June 16 meeting of the US-Russian presidents, nothing seems to have been said here about Georgia, although Georgia is probably referring to Joe Biden's formula: "If the Russian government takes harmful action, the US will give a strong and important response." In the South Caucasus, the pre-existing "status quo" was broken after the Karabakh war in 2020, and the positions of Russia and Turkey were significantly strengthened, which means a reduction in Western influence.

It is clear that the West will not lose interest in Georgia, but the relations between Georgia and the West will depend a lot on the development of events in Georgia.

In particular, the implementation of democratic reforms in the areas set out in the April 19 document. Heavy political debates and controversies are expected over the implementation of the Charles Michel document. The main part of the opposition entering the parliament is to hold early parliamentary elections by 2022 and change the government of the Georgian Dream.