So, the EU does not want Georgia now that it refuses to die for Ukraine or open a second front against Russia. It does not want to “Cut off its nose to spite its face”. Georgia’s EU candidacy status has been a carrot dangling from a stick in front of a donkey for many years, and has brought about some good results; however, a Georgian donkey is stubborn, and for good reason.
It is so easy to frame everything into simple choices, especially when perceived by outsiders and the naïve:
“There [can be] no gray area: not supporting Ukraine today means supporting Russia. This is why it is jarring for many to observe how Georgia, the very country which in the not-too-distant past represented the best hope for liberty and democracy in the Caucasus region, has started distancing itself from Ukraine – and therefore the West.”
The Choice is NOT yours to make
Making choices that are best for you is not appreciated by those who want to control and manage you, especially if you are a fledgling democracy located along a geopolitical fault line. Georgia in its history has never been allowed to have its own direction, even at times defining what is in its own best interests, at least not until recently.
Over the years, there has been much discussion about the possibility of the Republic of Georgia integrating into Western international institutions. Many Georgian leaders have advocated joining the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and made this aspiration part of their political platforms. However, such discussions have largely been focused on [supposed] Georgia’s national security position, particularly in its geopolitical and economic relation to Russia and Europe.
Choices always come with Opportunity Costs
This topic is nothing new to NEO readers; … it’s no coincidence, as Washington and NATO wage a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine that familiar trouble spots elsewhere along Russia’s periphery have ignited again,’ especially in light of the claimed elimination of 60 Georgian mercenaries fighting in a targeted surgical removal by the Russian military.
Georgia’s candidacy status being put on permanent hold by the EU should come as no surprise to regional observers, especially in light of not giving in to pressure from the US and its fellow travelers to open a second front, and cave into EU pressure to be a political and physical proxy, a proverbial no man’s land.
It is as if the European Union does not want another to keep Hungary in its club, and free thinking-independent-minded members could upset the garden party. As most of the Georgian media toes the line, based on eternal funding sources, “Hungary is precisely what the Georgian government is increasingly mirroring” and it is hard to say if this is more a compliment or insult, at least coming from a Western pundit” Echo Chamber.
As a recently unloaded YouTube video describes it, “EU ‘fails to coerce’ Georgia into opening a 2nd front against Russia; ‘Punishes’ by denying entry. Georgia and its political leadership, as the ruling Georgian Dream political party, fully understand why its EU aspirations are being stifled.
EU Fails at Blackmail!”
As Kakha Kaladadze, one of the top leaders of the Georgian Dream party so accurately sums it up, our country was ahead of Ukraine and Moldova, etc. al, in terms of implementing reforms and fighting corruption, and these facts are supported by Transparency International and other respected NGOs.
But being neutral for the West is staying on the Russian side, and being forced to take sides. Otherwise, Georgia not only deserves the status of a candidate for the EU but should have been first in line for its efforts.
It is worth noting that the Georgian government was working on the issues that were noted in a 12-point plan put forth by Brussels, however, it is now obvious that not being in the EU is not proving much of a problem for Georgia. It may even be to its advantage, as it can be a neutral region between competing political and economic interests, and a meeting point for all; however, that is not politically expedient, especially for some Georgian politicians.
As President Salome Zourabichvili has recently been quoted as saying, Obtaining the European Union membership candidate status for Georgia is a goal that has “no alternative” for the country, this was said during a press briefing in Vilnius with her Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nausėda Zourabichvili who highlighted Georgian citizens had “repeatedly proven their unwavering loyalty to European values” and noted the 80 percent support for EU integration among the country’s population.
However, in retrospect, this is a moot point, as values don’t matter in the place of political directives instigated and imposed on Georgia by the West. Too bad Georgian politicians don’t share many of the same values, that Zourabichvili and others are so fond of shouting about it. It would be nice if we could ever define what they are to start with—especially from the perspective of different nation -states which are members of the EU, and compare their different perspectives on the military conflict in Ukraine, domestic issues, and World Trade and Commercial Policy.
It is debatable if Georgia has been using economic integration as an effective strategic pathway, despite how the European Parliament had ratified an Association Agreement with Georgia back in 2014, thus creating the possibility of free trade between Georgia and EU members. But what have been the economic and political results of that agreement?
It is more akin to good intentions and one-sided trade and how the EU will reap far greater benefits, due to volumes of exports, consistency/continuity of supply, and economies-of-scale. This topic is likely not getting the press attention that it deserves. However, it should be high on the agenda. But that is not in the narrow interests of those who are far from the Georgian reality, and who are only looking to their own self-interests rather than mutual-benefits.
On March 12, the European Parliament held a debate on Georgia, in which MEPs strongly criticized the ruling “Georgian Dream” government. MEPs also expressed their “unwavering” support and solidarity with the European aspirations of the Georgian people. The debate resulted in a variety of assessments of Georgian politicians, a wide range of wishful-thinking.
Others in the Crosshairs
The European External Action Service (EEAS) has warned the Georgian government that enacting laws would restrict NGOs and their political activities would be “incompatible” with EU values and standards and go “against Georgia’s stated objective of joining the European Union.”
This is the very same EU that tries to persuade others that it is a Beacon of Democracy and is based on the rule of law in its actions. The EU lays claim to moral authority internationally for maintaining an open civil society, while reprimanding other nations for curbing dissent and threats to National Security. Now, as it prepares a law that seeks to regulate NGOs, media freedoms, apparently along with other special interest groups, activists claim that the EU itself is threatening to indulge in flagrant hypocrisy.
Happy European Day
There is no problem with Georgia and Georgians wanting to be in the EU; however, it is a matter of what it must give up, and turning its back on culture, traditions and shared Georgian values is a hard sell—more like a sell out in the minds of many.
“I believe that Georgia will become a full member of the big European family and Georgia will enter Europe with its own traditions,” Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said at the event marking Europe Day on May 6. Representatives of the legislative and executive authorities, as well as foreign diplomats who attended the event.
Georgia’s history has always been rooted in Europe. Some of these speeches will give the reader insight into things that they never imagined. But others are more pragmatic, and their speeches are more on the mark.
The Prime Minister says that “our European friends, European states will make the only correct political decision this year and grant Georgia and the Georgian people the status of a candidate country because “Our country and our people, our government deserve the candidate status.”
But he took time to mention, perhaps with a tinge of sarcasm—how his country has the same (identical), Christian values, and modern Europe is also based on them,” – Garibashvili added, wishing “Europe and our people peace, stability and prosperity.”
Even the Pope might take exception to that, as so-called European Christian values are far from Georgian ones.
Admittedly, PM Garibashvili reiterated that “granting the status is a symbolic act,” – and stressed that “this is a very important decision.” He also knows how many Georgians died in Afghanistan as an act of solidarity with NATO and the US military. Georgians now understand that was an overt action on the part of Georgia as it was trying to bleed its way into the organization, albeit in vain.
Ukraine and other countries who think they are going to be fast-tracked should learn a lesson from the Georgian experience. If you don’t know history, it is hard to understand anything of what is happening now—and this will explain much about the European direction, delusions and efforts to use EU and NATO membership for Georgia as a tool of manipulation, like how the British started a war between Georgia and Armenia in December 1918 to punish little Georgia for having been too close and cozy with Turkey and Germany in WW1.
Then as now, Georgia’s friends are more based on convenience and short-term economic/political interests than anything closer to shared values. For instance, where one MP from Georgia is quoted as saying, “The European future of this region is important to us”.
Yes, however, with the EU showing splits along the seams, and disunity, an interesting footnote of history is that Georgia won the December 1918 war but still lost territory to Armenia, due to European influences, and now that is part of a past that Georgia that does not want to remember.
In terms of today’s reality, Kacha Kaladze the Mayor of Tbilisi, sums it up well when he said, “that the Georgian government has become a problem for the West because it does not want to join the anti-Russian sanctions and also does not want to open a second war front ….”
Perhaps he knows Georgian history better than most, and how Georgia cannot afford to be caught between “two fires,” as this small country has too often found itself caught in difficult situations, e.g., situated between competing Empires who only see Georgia as a territory to be used or incorporated, or its people as “pawns” to be moved about and sacrificed
The sad REALITY is that the EU and NATO don’t need or want Georgia as a full-fledged member, and this applies not only to Georgia; as the EU and NATO are better at providing lip service than delivering on their promises.
The EU is proving undemocratic, and many member countries are not even real countries by any definition of a Nation State. But the populace, the unwashed masses, as they seem to believe, wants to be convinced by low-level propaganda. The only “Christian values” in Europe these days are Anti-Christian values, mercy killing, (euthanasia) that is supposedly motivated by compassion, and then to add injury to insult, to cremate the bodies, as if victims from the T4 program, something that is alien to Georgian values and religious traditions.
If only they knew how corrupt to the core the EU are and its political leadership, as demonstrated by how the EU vaccine procurement contracts were awarded, likely one of the biggest political scandals facing Europe in 50 years. Yet, the major media outlets remain silent.
It is not hard to understand the motivations, considering the billions involved. Georgia has made much progress in the right direction, including anti-corruption efforts, as its Prime Minister said: “I believe that Georgia will become a full-fledged member and will be able to enter Europe with its own traditions.”
But Georgia and its PM are pining over lost aspirations, as in the last 10 years its government has done much to bring Georgia closer to Europe. The PM wants to remind everyone “again that it is our government’s merit to sign the Association Agreement, free trade agreement, visa-free mode, and European perspective.”
Georgia should be careful in putting too much faith in its fair-weather European friends and hopes that those European states will make “the only correct political decision this year and grant Georgia and the Georgian people candidate status.”
However, it is an open question just how many common values and tenets are associated with Europe and Europeans, [and if] … these values are based on Georgian identity and Christian values, as modern Europe has ventured far from this path, especially in light of its overall support for the deadly conflict in Ukraine, and its effort to involve Georgia into that conflagration.
It will be interesting to see what the EU and the West will do now, and will there be a change in attitude toward Georgia now that Russia has a visa free régime and is normalizing relations.