Georgia: Similarities to the development of Ukraine

Under the EU Flag


(Own report) – Since their partial Ukrainian success in the power struggle over the ring of countries separating Russia’s borders from those of the EU, Berlin and Brussels have been stepping up their efforts to integrate Georgia into their hegemonic system. The EU is calling on Georgia – a country, geostrategists accord great importance not only for Russia’s encirclement, but for European access to Asia – to sign the EU Association Agreement in June, ahead of schedule. As in the case of Ukraine, Georgia is already integrated into the German-European military policy. The parliament in Tbilisi has recently voted to contribute Georgian troops to EU military operations in Africa. Georgia’s development following the 2003 “Rose Revolution” is very similar to what the Ukrainians find themselves confronted with since the February putsch in Kiev. Simultaneous with military-political integration into Western alliance structures, and the country’s accessibility for foreign investors, the population is sinking into impoverishment. Polls indicate that today only 27 percent of the Georgians have a “full-time job” that pays a living wage.
Sooner than Planned
The EU is calling on Georgia to sign the EU Association Agreement sooner than had been originally scheduled. This was decided at the end of last week by the EU heads of states and governments at their summit meeting in Brussels. According to the summit’s final document, it was decided to sign “the Association Agreements, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas,” which were initialled in Vilnius last November, “no later than June 2014.”[1] Initially, the signing had been scheduled for August. The current escalation in the power struggle between Russia and the West over Ukraine has compelled Berlin and Brussels to strengthen their positions as quickly as possible in two other countries – of the six countries – forming the ring separating Russia’s borders from those of the EU. Ukraine, since the secession of the Crimea, is merely considered a partial victory, in the eyes of the West.
The Terrestrial Suez Canal
From a geostrategic perspective Georgia incorporates various significant aspects. On the one hand, it is an important element for the encirclement of Russia, which, over the past two decades, has been confronted with a growing amount of western alliance activities (NATO and the EU) in various neighboring countries – from the Baltic to Central Asia. Second, Georgia – at least from time to time over the past few years – has been pursuing a “United Caucasus” strategy, a destabilizing policy of interference in the already conflict-ridden Russian North Caucasus. ( reported.[2]) Aside from its third function as bridgehead against Russia, Western geostrategists attribute Georgia also a central role as the gateway to the quite narrow terrestrial path to the East between Russia and Iran in expansion from Europe to Asia. Georgia serves as the gateway to a sort of “terrestrial Suez Canal between Europe and Asia,” Frederick Starr is quoted as having said. Starr is the founder of the US “Central Asia – Caucasus Institute.”[3]
The Results of Democratization
Just prior to the finalization of Georgia’s EU association, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) has taken stock of the country’s development over the past decade. This is of particular interest because the government in Tbilisi came to power back in 2003, with the “Rose Revolution,” and has been applying a pro-western policy – with a vengeance. The results are symptomatic, not least of all, in light of Ukrainian developments. The Georgian putsch in late 2003 had been led by a pro-Western segment of the Georgian establishment and carried out by people in the entourage of the former Minister of Justice, Mikheil Saakashvili. They could rely on the enormous dissatisfaction within the population. The organization, on the other hand, was “sponsored by foreign financial backers, such as George Soros.” This sponsorship paid off, when, at the end of 2003, the putsch regime was formed and eight of the 20 ministers were “young people, who had previously (…) been employed by western-financed non-government organizations.” Following the putsch, western money, which up to then, had been used to sponsor “civil society” organizations, was redirected to the pro-Western government, writes SWP. On the other hand, grassroots organizations, which until 2003, had been engaged in the democratization of the country were dropped from the Western payrolls and often had to shut down their activities. Georgia’s “democratization results” have “hardly” improved since 2003, concludes the SWP. On the contrary, until it lost the elections in 2012/2013, the Saakashvili government had installed an authoritarian rule, in which, for example, there were reports of “attacks on irritating political and economic personalities by officials of the justice and interior ministries.”[4]
Praise and Poverty
According to SWP, the pro-Western government, which came to power in 2003, imposed drastic changes in economic policy. Its “radical economic liberalization” harvested “exuberant praise from international financial organizations” and led “to a distinct increase in foreign investments in Georgia,” explains the SWP, however the government sorely neglected the country’s main structural economic deficiencies. For example, “imports are three times higher than exports,” wherein nearly one fourth of the exports are comprised “of used cars.” Agriculture – from which 54 percent of the population earns its living – was sorely neglected and accounts for only 8 percent of Georgia’s economic product. In 2011, 27 percent of Georgia’s households did not even have “enough income for food,” reports the SWP; 38 percent “just barely has enough to eat;” 29 percent has enough to “feed and clothe themselves, but cannot afford to buy anything larger.” Polls indicate only 27 percent have “an adequate full-time job.” The SWP recalls that this was all done in the name of “Europe.” In Tbilisi, “the flag of the European Union was waving alongside that of Georgia.”[5]
NATO Catalyst
The 2003 putschist government had been successful not only in setting the country up for foreign investors, but also for preparing Georgia to join NATO. The “Rose Revolution” had been a “strong catalyst for intensified partnership with the Alliance,” concludes the military alliance. Georgia has since been contributing “actively to NATO-led operations,” and cooperates with “the Allies and other partner countries in many other areas.”[6] The military share of the country’s budget reaches, at times, – for NATO, a very convenient – 25 percent. Georgian troops have fought along side the US troops in Iraq, and have been on mission to Afghanistan since 2004. Following a 2012 surge, the Georgian military today numbers 1,560 at the Hindu Kush – which, proportional to its population (4.5 million) – is proportionally the largest national contingent and the fifth largest in actual numbers. Tbilisi has announced its readiness to keep troops stationed in the country beyond 2014, and offers to do so with the Bundeswehr.
From NATO to EU Interventions
This corresponds to the country’s current – even military – orientation toward the EU, which has been apparent since 2012. That was when Brussels and Tbilisi entered negotiations on a framework agreement, providing for participation of Georgian troops in EU military missions. It was finally signed November 29, 2013. The agreement explicitly includes EU interventions “around the world” and “marks Georgia’s readiness to engage alongside the EU” in the future.[7] February 20, 2014, the Georgian government resolved to contribute 150 soldiers to the EU’s mission soon to be sent to the Central African Republic. Just as in Ukraine,[8] the EU Association Agreement will also draw Georgia into future German-European wars.
[1] Schlussfolgerungen zur Ukraine, gebilligt vom Europäischen Rat. Brüssel, 20.03.2014.
[2] See Caucasian Interim Report (II).
[3], [4], [5] Uwe Halbach: Bilanz einer “Farbrevolution”. Georgien im politischen Wandel 2003-2013. SWP-Studie S 24. Berlin, Dezember 2013.
[6] Deepening relations with Georgia. NATO Backgrounder. 2013.
[7] EU and Georgia sign Framework Agreement on participation in EU crisis management operations. Vilnius, 29 November 2013.
[8] See The Europeanization of Ukraine.

By piotrbein