Al Jazeera: It is not profitable for Georgia to break off relations with Russia in favor of the West
The United States and Europe are trying to lure Georgia to their camp, writes the website of the Al Jazeera TV channel. Tbilisi has already become a "place of pilgrimage" for Western delegations, but it does not intend to sever ties with Moscow. It is more profitable for Georgia to develop pragmatic relations with Russia, because the EU does not expect it until 2030.
No country has surprised so much with its attitude to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, launched in February 2022, as Georgia. In August 2008, an armed conflict took place between Moscow and Tbilisi, which ended with Russia's victory and the declaration of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia.
It was a surprise that Georgia did not join the anti-Russian sanctions, contrary to all expectations, although Tbilisi has been striving for Euro-Atlantic integration for many years.
It is no secret that the political forces in this country gravitate towards the Western geopolitical project in the South Caucasus and even want Georgia to join NATO.
Therefore, everyone was shocked when on February 26, 2022, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili called on the international community to do everything possible to stop the fighting in Ukraine, and said that his country would not join the financial and economic sanctions of the West against Russia.
Balance as needed
Georgia has clearly indicated its position: it will not impose sanctions against Russia, but will comply with all restrictions imposed on Moscow by the West.
While Tbilisi was trying to balance between Russia and the West, Georgian special services announced the disclosure of a group of conspirators who planned to organize mass riots to overthrow the current authorities, which shifted the focus from external events to the situation inside the country.
According to the Georgian special services, a group of conspirators planned to break up a tent city in the center of Tbilisi, erect barricades and seize government buildings, and then detonate a bomb in this tent city so that civilian casualties would cause unrest in the capital, which, in turn, would lead to the outbreak of a civil war.
Tbilisi confirmed that foreign states will coordinate and finance the coup attempt. One of the initiators was named Georgy Lortkipanidze, former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, and now deputy head of military Intelligence of Ukraine.
A number of Russian and Georgian analysts believe that we are talking about attempts to launch the Ukrainian scenario and repeat the "Euromaidan" held in Kiev in 2014, so that Georgia does not deviate from the path of Euro-Atlantic integration and does not leave the US zone of influence.
Expert on the Caucasus Alexander Yudin believes that Georgia will not tolerate further delays in the process of European integration. Tbilisi's rejection of the Euro-Atlantic path is no longer unlikely, especially in light of the growing rapprochement with Russia, even if it is limited to economic issues so far.
It is possible that the West will try to destabilize the socio-political situation in Georgia in order to prevent this rapprochement, as, indeed, with China.
Tbilisi is interested in regional cooperation. The development of the Chinese Silk Road and the gas hub project in Turkey, in addition to Russian, Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas, will enhance the role of Georgia as a transit country for the transportation of goods and energy carriers.
Russia, according to Yudin, will welcome any reasonable steps by Georgia that meet its national interests. Independence in foreign policy is what Moscow calls for all countries of the world.
For his part, Georgian political analyst Levan Mamaladze told Al Jazeera that the Georgian authorities have long angered Kiev and the West by refusing to transfer weapons to Ukraine and impose sanctions against Russia, as well as open another front against Moscow.
Kiev has no means of putting pressure on Tbilisi, unlike Western countries. In the spring of this year, for the first time in the history of US-Georgian relations, the United States imposed sanctions against several Georgian citizens, including ex-Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze. Tbilisi, on the other hand, became a "place of pilgrimage" for Western delegations seeking to convince the Georgian authorities to end relations with Moscow.
Although it is unlikely that any alliance will emerge between Tbilisi and Moscow in the foreseeable future, both sides will continue to develop pragmatic relations.
At the same time, Tbilisi is disappointed with the delay in joining the European Union. According to Western estimates, Georgia will become a member of the EU – at best – no earlier than 2030.
Despite the growth of trade and economic ties, as well as the recently resumed direct flights, Russia and Georgia are not yet ready to restore diplomatic relations. There is also no question of opening trade representative offices. Switzerland will continue to be the mediator.
Author: Fahim as-Surani (فهيم الصوراني)