Elections – Fine, but How about Territorial Integrity?


If our country’s territorial integrity is still an issue, elevated into the rank of a national idea, then why are we talking about elections more than about territorial integrity? Maybe because the elections have now become a national idea and territorial integrity has been moved to the back bench! I don’t know of any politician who would like this question asked point blank, but I am still asking it. There is another way though to handle the issue: forget about the forfeited lands, take good care of what is left, and look into the future like nothing has happened. Easy, isn’t it?

I’ve got the third version of resolution: putting the following question on the ballot of a hypothetical nationwide referendum: ‘Would you say Yes or No to the revival of the Soviet Union if Georgia’s territorial integrity was immediately restored?’ I wonder to the extent of a splitting headache how the Yay and Nay responses might proportionate if the referendum actually took place. Please don’t expect me to make a forecast! I’m an experienced and careful journalist who has never taken sides or persisted in prognostic efforts. I will not even say that the idea sounds somewhat attractive because I am not prepared to get caught in the middle of a squabble between Russophobes and Russophiles.

You know, we usually associate the former USSR with today’s Russia, and this is fair enough because, after all, it is Russia that has assumed the role of the Soviet Union’s official legal successor. Whatever we say or presume on a local patriotic level, we will never be able to eschew the cruel man-supposes-god-disposes paradigm. Meanwhile, we are faced with music of the following tones: the occupied territories continue to be just as occupied as they were three decades ago, and even wider; the Russia-Georgian borders are being tailored like they are perennially movable frontiers; the confused unsuspecting border violators still get arrested and fined. Surprisingly, the trade between the two feuding countries remains better than averagely functional; plenty of Georgian enterprises operate under Russian ownership and management; the western alliances and individual well-wishers carry on behaving even more cautiously as facilitators to unraveling the Russian-Georgian political tangle of 30 years; the soft-power bickering between the two political cultures has never mitigated; the frozen conflicts on de-jure Georgian territories are covered with an even thicker layer of ice; the diplomatic language and political correctness have become much subtler and less useful; the Russian tourists in Georgia feel cozily ensconced in Abraham’s Bosom, enjoying the beauty of our nature and sipping the delicious Georgian wine like in good old times of peace and cooperation, as if nothing much has changed.

The Georgian-Abkhaz divorce has instigated the Armenian-Abkhaz marriage; the Georgian properties are still waiting for their legitimate owners; the two runaway territories continue thinking of themselves as independent nations in a procrastinated expectation of international recognition; generations have grown who are not even familiar with prewar maps, and couldn’t care less whether Georgia’s territory is complete or tattered; the rhetoric – ‘You can’t take back peacefully what you have lost by war’ has taken firm hold in the minds of frustrated patriots who probably know that belligerency is not the best way for Georgia to achieve any goal; the separatist governmental staffers have been sprawling on the Russian payroll, basking in the imaginative glory of freedom and independence, when in reality they are so broke that their monthly paychecks are persistently getting thinner.

I am dying to know if the rebels love the Russian and Armenian presence in their everyday routine more than the habitual Georgian shoulder to rely on. The time between now and the Election Day is getting shorter, and the process in between is becoming overwhelming: politically, emotionally, and physically. No matter how fascinating the electoral outcome is, if the potential of reinstating Georgia’s territorial integrity doesn’t grow as a consequence, then even the most successful end of the day will see a fly in the ointment.

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze

Image source: emerging-europe.com

09 July 2020 18:27