Georgia is nominally an independent country, but it has never been as dependent as it now is on internationally determined circumstantial factors and exigencies – social, political and economic. Our declared geopolitical orientation is, ideally, propelling us toward our Euro-Atlantic future, potentially putting to the service of the nation the western culture and its pecuniary power, and ridding the country of anything that reminds us of our socialist past and communist prospect.
As the polls would have it, the majority of the people of Georgia are happy with the first model of outlook, but Georgia’s westernization as such has become a sharp thorn in the Russian side. Russians don’t even want to hear that Georgia might someday be welcomed into NATO as a full member of the western military alliance – it is one of Russia’s worst nightmares. Ironically, if Russia wanted, it could also attempt, with a considerable chance, to be welcomed into the club itself. Imagine what a relief this would be for the rest of the world – Russia, a NATO member, the strongest guarantor of peace and prosperity in the world!
Well, this won’t happen of course. Instead, it’s a bit of a “dog in a manger” situation- the metaphor derived from an old Greek fable meaning someone who has no need of, or ability to use, a possession that would be of use or value to others, but who prevents others from having it. That’s exactly what Russia is doing to Georgia – “I don’t have it but you won’t enjoy it either.” The Russian Foreign Ministry recently submitted to NATO a harsh and unembellished statement about the need to disavow the decision of the 2008 NATO summit that Georgia be granted membership in the alliance. This is all I wanted to make clear: Georgia wants to make a free decision in favor of its better future, and, all of a sudden, there is Russia brashly going against it, against a move by a country merely making an attempt to give its long-expectant population the chance to raise its living standards.
Russia is a strong nuclear power, entertaining its own state security paradigm, which purports having no countries along its borders that belong in the adverse military block. NATO is a military alliance of countries, perpetuating the idea of doing no harm to any peace-loving nation in the world, and believing that any country has the right to decide, independently from any other, where to belong and where not to. Meanwhile, Georgia, aspiring to NATO membership, has a long border with Russia who reckons NATO its adversary. The contradiction born out of this circumstantial factor creates the exigency for Georgia to keep Russia at bay and continue working on NATO membership at the same time.
Having all that in mind, a conclusion is asking to be made that Georgia is at serious risk of either angering Russia or dropping its European family membership dream. How long can Georgia last in this weird modus vivendi, caught and tightly squeezed in a diabolical space between the hammer and the anvil? What a painful and unfair suspension! And all this because of the world’s super-powers’ continuing predicament for not being able to finally divide the world between them and have done with it!
Russia and NATO will continue to exist and operate at daggers drawn for quite a while to come. And Georgia will stand gaping at the Hobson’s choice of patronage over its fate and happiness. I just wonder if we, the people, are at least remotely clear about our country’s future niche on the planet. Where do we want to find ourselves eventually? In the new and comfortable lap of Europe, or in the old and already-tasted Russian orphanage? Yet, the decision about that will never be made here, on Rustaveli Avenue in our capital city, which is right now getting ready for Christmas and the New Year celebrations while at the same time living under the threat of further political manifestations, in no way contributing to the decisions that so much bother the nation.