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How can an effective Georgian leader and political figure maintain peaceful relations with the nation's neighbors and protect Georgian sovereignty and dignity while engaging the world?

By Zurab Guruli
Friday, May 26, 2023
In 2008, during the invasion of Ossetia, the world abandoned the tiny nation of Georgia to face a very aggressive and superior military foe that had invaded its territory illegally. Even our leading strategic partner stepped aside and tens of thousands of refugees from Ossetia relocated elsewhere in the country of three million people. America had started a "reset" policy with Russia and indicated that it preferred that Georgia not be a factor hindering the rapprochement between the West and Russia. Georgia had to give up on the idea of joining NATO. Georgia was vulnerable, occupied, and cornered. The country was forced to submit to the demands of the occupier. This policy led to the infiltration of corrupt Russian practices and ways of doing things into Georgian society. Today, while progressive humanity stands together against Russia's illegal and genocidal war in Ukraine, Georgia is still alone. There is no guarantee regarding military support from NATO or anyone else should Russia attempt expansion further into Georgia. Neither is there any assurance of economic support should Russia resume an aggressive stance against Georgia. Instead, the West demands courage from Georgia again. The West insists Georgia participate in sanctions against Russia enacted after the Ukraine invasion and take a stand favoring Ukraine and Western interests. True Georgian patriots have a dream: to have unfettered national sovereignty, live peaceably without threats, be members of NATO, have a modern liberal democracy, engage economically with the advanced nations of the world, and be a member of the European Union. All these scenarios mentioned above are being made impossible currently by the West. Today we clearly see what the "reset" policy has brought to Russia. Ukraine is fighting heroically to protect its territory and independence and to do the heavy lifting in stopping Russian imperialist expansion. The fact that Ukraine is courageously standing up to the Russians shames a Western world that ostensibly values freedom and democracy for all.

Please stand by us with deeds, not empty promises. Give us a real guarantee that you will not allow Russia to commit the same atrocities in Georgia seen in Bucha and Mariupol. With Western support, we can completely replace corrupt marketplace cronyism and corruption with a modern free-market capitalist system which can be a valued partner in the EU system. Please do not leave us to face an aggressive and imperialist Russia which does not hesitate to use military force without provocation against smaller neighbors. Georgia no longer has the luxury of trusting the abstract promises of the West for an indefinite period of time. It is time for the Western liberal democracies to take the first step. If the West will provide support for us, another worthy and loyal member will be welcomed into the world's progressive community. Georgians want to look to the future and not the past and earnestly desire their society to be like a Western Europe liberal democracy and not to function as a Russian-dominated satellite state.

Georgia is still fighting today; we fight as hard as possible but we are a tiny country. Allow us to regain full confidence in your assurances. It benefits the West to have a partner in a strategic area like ours. The West needs citizens of the oppressed countries in the world to have respect for and faith in democracy. To whom do you want the developing world to look for leadership? The U.S., Western Europe, and similar nations, or authoritarian regimes like Russia, China, Iran, etc.? If authoritarianism is allowed to become dominant, all developed nations will have to face uncomfortable realities in their own neighborhoods.

If the West does not want to support those fighting for freedom, then it has neither a moral nor a political right to scold us for conformism with Russia. It might be a matter of pure physical survival for small countries like Georgia, which has a population of three million, against Russia's 145 million, against which we would have zero chance and risk the genocidal obliteration of our entire society. We are obligated to protect our citizens' lives; Please help us preserve their dignity!