Needing Russia, Hating Russia

It is Georgia’s eternal blight that, historically, it is has always been faced with geopolitical choices never easy to make. A quarter of a millennium has passed since Georgia was compelled to unite its fate with Russia, and we are still in an exacerbated argument as to whether the move was right or wrong. At that time, it was a choice between Islam and Christianity. Currently, it is an alternative between Russia and the West.

The choice-making itself is something we can live with, but our unfortunate lot is that we do not know for sure which way is more agreeable, as it was centuries before. What a curse! The nation is literally split on the issue, and feelings are so heated on both sides that we might never escape the quandary: the West is more civilized and hence more eye-catching, whereas Russia is more backward and thus less attractive; Russia is an occupant, permanently curtailing Georgia’s territory, and Georgia is incapable of defying the assailant; Russia is an adversary but it controls a lot of businesses and real estate here; Georgia is very angry with Russia in general but still receives a huge amount of Russian tourists with a great deal of deference and assumed benevolence in hopes of making some money on them; Georgia needs to make use of Russia’s economic potential to push its product profitably into the Russian market but Georgians are, at the same time, aggravated that they need to rely on Russian shoulders; Georgia knows that it will never overpower Russia in anything on earth but still fights her, mostly verbally, at any possible opportunity; seemingly, Russia is out of this country lock, stock and barrel but she is still omnipresent materially, ideologically and linguistically; Georgia thinks that its de facto lost territories are still part of Georgia but they are gone in reality, goodness knows for how long - forever, if you ask Russia; socialism is done with but the socialist ways and means are still around; human rights are all in place but the struggle for them is still rampant; democracy has triumphed but autocratic manners are still in our blood; the West is prepared to support Georgia, but only vocally and in a lukewarm financial direction, unwilling to damage their own relationship with Russia for the sake of Georgia; the Georgians know for certain that nothing will put them on the right track to enhance their standard of living except a well-developed economy but still spend a monstrous amount of time on political blah-blah and street-oriented political life; the Georgian men and women are aware of the nation’s plummeting demography but still want to be convinced family planners.

The choice that we are being forced to make will someday be made, but there is no certainty that the pick is going to be the best one for Georgia, and there are no experts or fortunetellers around to confidently sign under any of the available options.

If Georgia goes and joins the West, it will acquire a vested enemy in the form of Russia, who will never give Georgia a chance to enjoy the gifts of western civilization, even if the entire globe supports the idea of Georgia being a natural part of the western world. If Georgia is reinvaded by Russia and dragged back into the Russian empire as a colony, as has happened more than once in the past, then our blood and efforts of the last thirty years will be washed down the tubes and the Georgian people will have to put up with whatever is left for them to enjoy.

How about Geopolitical Neutrality? No! Because most political scientists think that Georgia has no way of being an unaligned country in the present circumstances. This is why the implementation of a balanced relationship between Russia and Georgia, not making any additional waves, was one of the wisest decisions the Georgian governments of the latest 30 years made. Recently, somebody wanted to corrupt that pragmatic attitude. Hopefully, that ‘somebody’ has lost the chance forever.

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze

22 July 2019 18:04