A million-dollar question, isn’t it? I’m talking here about the current Georgian government’s classically balanced policy of neutrality, which unequivocally purports a fruitful low-key cooperation with both West and North for the sake of peace and economic growth of the country. We are finally where we always wanted to be after the breakup of the Evil Empire. Had we managed to handle the subtlest issues of Georgia’s national freedom and independence in a more astute fashion, Sakartvelo would have been way more advanced and prosperous a nation than it is now, but as the saying has it, better late than never.
The only bad thing happening right now is an extensive chasm within the nation concerning the vector of its prospective development – Western or Russian. Nobody says that the Russian vector is favorable, and therefore acceptable, but the opposition wants to prove that the government’s only viable view of the future is remarriage with Russia, while the current administration of the country keeps trying to explain that Georgia’s long-opted for and still extant vector of development is explicitly Western, only slightly mixed with the justifiable passiveness of Georgia to Russia when it comes to Russian-Georgian cooperation on certain issues that might keep us from being involved in new conflicts and quarrels with a nation that once inflicted a lot of pain on Georgia, and still entertains the latent likelihood to hurt us all over again if we make the same miscalculated steps.
The differences between the conflicting sides prevail also on the issue of the war in Ukraine. The nature of expectations on the subject is widely gapped between them, and their future vitality thoroughly depends on the finale of that war. Meanwhile, most of the Western experts maintain that the longer the clash is procrastinated, the worse the inflicted soreness for Russia, for Ukraine and for the rest of the world, will be, including Sakartvelo, even if it remains impartial in the process.
Specialists insist that several models for the culmination of the war can be predicted at this moment in time: using historical logic, there could be a cease-fire any time soon, which will provide a timeout to better consider the continuation of the dire scenario. A peace deal is not excluded because, as they say, every war in the past has ended in some kind of deal that gives the warring sides a chance to rehabilitate themselves. Russia’s backing away is also thought to be a possibility, although a very flimsy one, in which case the conflict might freeze forever, and Georgia’s neutral stance will probably be confirmed justifiable.
Ukraine’s victory is firmly on Western minds, with the Georgian political opposition brandishing the key phrase of the day: ‘We told you so’. Further expansion of the war is also a possibility on the table, as is Western physical intervention and the consequent nuclear collision, an option hanging over Mankind like the Sword of Damocles. At the same time, there prevails the overall hope that it will never occur to the Western military alliance that attacking Russia might be a healthy decision on its part. The truce, if any, is going to be very complicated to achieve, hence the frozen conflict is looming more than any other abovementioned possibility as a finale.
This kind of logic makes Georgia’s current stance wise enough, helping it to tolerate the painful thumps between the anvil and the hammer, as it tries very hard to eat the cake and still have it. The furious opposition would say you can’t have it both ways, but our everyday peaceful life persistently proves that bad peace is much better than any good war, especially seeing as expert opinions suggest the probability of a quick end to hostilities is quite far-flung. The war rages on, and its end is not even slightly looming on the horizon. And the situation has its own iron logic: how can you possibly tell the disastrously beleaguered nation to stop fighting for its own land and survival? How can we expect the West to actually interfere when the world is so heavily packed with nukes? How can one tell Russia to sit down at the negotiating table when the nation’s face is already so marred and distorted? There is too much at stake for Russia, among which is national pride and the desire to right recent historical wrongs. This is a tragic cul-de-sac the world has never seen before, and I am not surprised that Sakartvelo wants to walk on the edge of the sword surreptitiously and without any bloodshed. Living with a war that might drag on forever, our little Georgia has become allergic to taking sides, and this is very, very understandable.
Op-Ed by Nugzar B. Ruhadze