Which way to go?
03 April, 2014
Which way to go?
Historical destinies of the Georgian people have it that we always stood at crossroads, looking around in fear and doubts about the painful geopolitical choices we had to make. A crossroad-mode of existence has persisted up until now, keeping us in abeyance interminably without a clearly-cut model of the nation’s future. The annals are pointing at only one historical period, called the “Golden Era” – in 11th and 12th centuries – when Georgia was a large powerful country, playing its
significant regional and international role. At all other times, Georgia was torn apart between some great powers – holders of geopolitical reigns at this or that historical stage in the duration of more than two millennia.
This frustrating pattern is still vibrant and effective. Georgia has often found itself pressed in-between the will of super powers – each in its own time – like Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Persians, Russians, and now its current American and European friends and mentors, trying to tame and handle our little beautiful Sakartvelo with the help of both the carrot and the stick exactly as the preconditioned “happiness” of the Georgian people would demand it at the moment of their dominance. Georgia as a state is permanently in the making, and the process of making is difficult to handle for any government that comes into power in Georgia every now and again. Nothing is easy in Georgia. A considerable part of its territory is gone and they have long been stigmatized as occupied lands by most of the world except Russia, the occupier, and her political satellites. It is probably natural that Georgia wants, and is doing its possible best, to reintegrate its lands into one monolithic country; living and functioning as a regular independent nation with its own national concept of development, its culture, traditions, language, religion, science, economic potential, and social peculiarities. Georgia’s current situation is burdened and aggravated by the dilemma of its geopolitical orientation i.e. which way to go. The dilemma has been bothering the nation since the breakup of the Soviet Union when Georgia became a de jure independent country. Part of us wanted to go west and integrate itself into the European structures, having America as its main strategic partner. Another part of us would never give up the old pattern of economic and political reliance on Russia as our ancestors had chosen to have and enjoyed it a couple of hundred centuries ago, one of the reasons of such a choice being the Russian-Georgian mutual religious identity. Georgia has always been torn apart between these two models of orientation – the West or Russia – and the consequence of that fluctuation has always been dire and detrimental for Georgia. The fact of looking west has usually angered Russia to the extent of making a decision to grab Georgia’s historical territories and recognizing them as independent countries, thus creating the most challenging political cul-de-sac ever. On the other hand, going back to Russia and refusing from the Western hand of economic and ideological assistance, Georgia is losing a lot. Thus, standing on the crossroads is a sheer loss of time for Georgia, especially when nobody is insisting that Georgia ascend to NATO immediately or receive European Union membership forthwith. Georgia steadily continues to be where it has always been with its lost territories; Russia’s encroachment on new territories is becoming vivid every day; and the West is instructing Georgia to be patient. In the unending expectation of that cherished better life, Georgia’s ability to recover and develop accordingly is not becoming stronger, and the chance to be integrated in western structures is getting thinner. So what to do? Which way to go? And here comes to mind the idea of looking for new ways of development without sticking to either of those superpowers’ reluctant bodies. The ways might mean finding a new international role for Georgia, like a role of a central regional player in cooperation with Azerbaijan and Armenia, making joint efforts to create a peaceful zone together in the South Caucasus, where the interests of all big geopolitical players would be taken into account. Based on the idea that national interests are the biggest determiners and definers of relationships between the countries, it would not harm the three South Caucasian nations to try as hard as possible and let the national interests of the geopolitical biggies meet in the South Caucasus region, and do this just in the national interests of their own? Why should this be impossible? What might be wrong with this idea – the idea which is not mine at all, but belongs to doctor of political science, Ambassador Zurab Khonelidze? The scholar is telling us that the future of Georgia – currently fallen out of international functions – is viewed in his book (written and patented in 1993) in a new comprehension of the role of the country and the necessity of assigning to it certain additional functions. He believes that in a life of all people and every country there comes a time when, according to the realistic and authentic strategic tasks and their implementation resources, making the offering of a new project means the revival of national faith. Today for Georgia, the power of which lies in its diversity and effectiveness in expending of its space of activity, this is the only correct choice – Khonelidze insists. Following the author’s thoughts, I am step by step becoming a convinced adherent to this new approach to the geopolitical reality that Georgia has found itself in absolutely against its will and the ideal model of its development. The West could be a good and sincere helper, and it might be willing to let Georgia solidify its independence and revive its territorial integrity, but overpowering Russia’s persistent will to have Georgia’s territories as a guarantee to keep Georgia tamed, is not an easy task for Georgia’s western friends. There is a huge number of “if”-s and “but”-s that the West has to necessarily be considering. And those considerations are not always in Georgia’s favor. The thing is that the West cannot ignore or anger Russia too much for defending and saving its little darling Georgia. So let us go for something wiser, more practicable and pragmatic than waiting for the West forever to do something more radical for Georgia than all that it is doing right now.
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