Is the US losing interest in Georgia?
05 December, 2013
Is the US losing interest in Georgia?
The United States of America is taken as the major strategic partner of Georgia. The fact is acknowledged by the new government of Georgia. The same position was shared by the previous one.
But how can Georgian-American relations be assessed in light of the current political situation? Some Georgian analysts believe that American interest in Georgia has significantly dropped. They also emphasize that the United States might concede its power in the South Caucasus region. However, another group of analysts does not share that vision.
“I don’t think American interest towards Georgia has decreased,” Lincoln Mitchell, an Associate Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, told Georgian Journal. “The previous government sought, and received, a great deal of attention from the US, but attention and interest are not the same.” Asked to explain, Mitchell responded, “The old government measured its success by how much attention it got from the west. The new government does not.”
Political scientist Kakha Gogolashvili told Georgian Journal that American interest towards Georgia decreased after Democrats came to power in the United States. He emphasized that Obama’s administration paid more interest to internal issues, rather than foreign policy.
“Of course, the economic crisis also had an influence on foreign policy. The United States could not allocate as much resources for its strategic partners as before,” Gogolashvili said, but noted that the situation in Georgia and the South Caucasus will change. However, America might remain as the main foreign player in the region.
“The European Union might balance off the America’s decreased interest in the region. Or the EU and US might act through coordination in the region,” Gogolashvili speculated, even if the US no longer necessarily regards the EU as a counterpart.
“The fact that the US immediately reacted to the situation in the Ukraine concerning the association agreement reveals that the United States attitude towards the EU has changed,” said Gogolashvili. “Several years ago the United States might even have been glad about the developments.”
Another expert in South Caucasus issues, Mamuka Areshidze, shares the view that the US interest in Georgia is not as strong as before.
“However, America has put serious resources into Georgia, and the region will be important for it.” He also said that decreased interest towards Georgia from the US might have a negative effect on Georgian-Russian relations.
“I think that Russian pressure on Georgia, especially after the Ukraine issues, will strengthen, and I cannot say how Georgia will resist the
pressure,” Areshidze told Georgian Journal. Associate Professor Korneli Kakachia believes that there are two controversial attitudes concerning Georgian-U.S. relations.
“One approach stresses that America still sees Georgia and the South Caucasus as in its strategic interests. However, there is another view as well, and the vision is getting stronger,” Kakachia said. “There is a view that the US has reviewed its foreign policy toward the post-Soviet realm.”
“If we compare George Bush’s and Barack Obama’s attitudes, we will detect a significant difference,” Kakachia said, noting that the US has specified its global tasks.
“It is better for the US to pay more attention to China than Russia. It does mean that Russia is losing interest for America… America changed its priorities and, to tell the truth, Georgia’s place is not as important as it was under Bush’s administration,” Kakachia said.
But political expert Soso Tsiskarishvili is sure that US interest in Georgia has not decreased.
Tsiskarishvili expressed his opinion concerning the US delegation for Giorgi Margvelashvili’s inauguration as president.
He explained that the delegation was adequate, considering the new Georgian constitution, which grants less power to the President.
Meanwhile, Swedish analyst Svante E. Cornell believes that the US has economic interests in Georgia, besides the political. He stressed that Azerbaijan, which possesses large gas and oil resources, is significant for the world.
“Georgia can perform a transit role, which will grow its geo-political importance. Maybe Georgia is not the most important strategic country in the Caucasus region, but it has a key critical significance in the South Caucasus.”
Expert Giorgi Rukhadze says that Georgia remains a strategic partner for the USA. However, American interest in Georgia will increase or decrease with changes in the international situation.
“America and Russia are big political players. Georgia has never been a decisive factor in the relationship. However, Georgia is an important factor,” Rukhadze said, and suggested that American interest in Georgia will be affected by steps taken by the Georgian government as well.

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