Right before the 13th anniversary of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, there came a message from Moscow to Tbilisi, full of kind wishes to restore ties and go back to the erstwhile friendship and mutual cooperation between the two feuding countries, despite the history of intermittent exchanges of love and hatred over the last two hundred years. Does Russia really mean what it suggests? Of course it does! Yet, the genuine stuffing of the declared goodwill is that for such reparation, Russia wants Georgia to put up with the new geopolitical reality, ‘new’ meaning that Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain on the run. Both were unilaterally recognized by Russia as independent states in retaliation to America’s recognizing Kosovo’s independence against the Russian stand.
How regrettable that our miniature Georgia should lose its historical lands as a consequence of muscle flexing between geopolitical giants. This is the way our planet is managed today, of which Georgia happens to be a victim.
The very moment the Russian proposal was reflected in the news, the US Embassy in Tbilisi replied with strong and angry statements that Russia must first withdraw its forces from Georgian territory if it wants to restore relations with Georgia, once again calling on Russia to reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Imagine the level of irritation in the Kremlin at hearing these words! But for us Georgians, not much has changed as a result – the longstanding status quo remains as firm as a rock. The situation is somewhat reminiscent of the caravan that keeps rolling on, nonchalant to the loud warnings of various levels and strength.
Russia, although it has plenty of insurmountable problems of its own, still resorts to cynical comments about Georgia’s attempts to westernize itself and its current geopolitical orientation focused on integration into Euro-Atlantic polit-economical structures. This is seen throughout Russian media, as well as in the comments of Russian officialdom. One could say that Russia wants Georgia back not in prewar form and content, but as it is now – truncated, frustrated and on its knees. Georgia has the full support of the West, but the western shoulder seems to be more ephemeral than real. We are certainly using a lot of western economic help, thanks to which we are not ‘dying of hunger,’ but the essential problem of our territorial integrity remains unsolved, and nobody seems capable of making any forecast about the future.
Meanwhile, Russia is not yielding, keeping a rigid grip on the lands she has snatched from us.
Incidentally, some wicked thoughts pop up at times in my confused head: what was grabbed by force must be taken back by force. But Georgia cannot afford anything of that sort. We are totally in the hands of big players in the game. If, against any odds, they clash to establish justice, the confrontation will take place on our territory, so we will once again be victimized for no good reason.
Georgia has gotten tired of being a loser. Georgia needs impetus to reinvent itself as a productive builder, but the incentive is not even looming on the horizon. Georgians are gradually getting used to the fact that our long-suffering lands have been devoured by post-soviet shakes and quakes, and the way to get them back is hopelessly blurred. We cannot depend on Russia’s will to reconstruct our country, unless we turn our back on the West and embrace Russia’s recent offer. If we want to continue with our western friends and allies, they will have to immediately marry us into their rich and mellow family before we get gobbled up by some unexpected geopolitical vicissitude and the grown appetites of those who still have an eye on our beautiful lands. None of these is happening, and Georgia remains clenched between the relentless jaws of that horrible status quo, which already accounts for several generations, coming and going, and becoming ever more insensitive towards our territorial pain in the neck.
Op-Ed by Nugzar B. Ruhadze