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Georgia’s challenges

By Messenger Staff
Monday, September 2
Several diplomats who served in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan some time ago in their letter published in the New York Times, highlighted the challenges the three south Caucasus countries face.

We would add that Georgia most probably is the most vulnerable out of these three. The diplomats in their article express their concern that after the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, the geopolitical significance of the South Caucasus could diminish. This might result in decreased attention given to the region, which could become very dramatic for these countries. Therefore, the diplomats urge the EU to render more assistance to the south Caucasus countries.

It should be mentioned that a decrease in attention from the international community will have the strongest impact on Georgia, and there are various reasons for this. Firstly, because of the fact that Georgia is the only post-Soviet state that openly declares its commitment to join NATO and is generally the most Western oriented state. For the same reasons, Russia has been “punishing” Georgia, and the Russian invasion of Georgia in August 2008, proved that Georgia has no safety guarantee whatsoever.

The ceasefire agreement of August 2008 sponsored by then EU Chairman President Sarkozy of France in reality was welcomed by Russia, because it had realized the negative impact of the world community if Russia occupied the whole of Georgia. Russia wanted to stop, so it immediately agreed with Sarkozy’s initiative. But the most dangerous is the fact that Moscow realized that any kind of future possible attack on Georgia would not be followed by any strict sanctions from the world community. Moreover, some Russian radical analysts even openly started speculation about the military intervention in the Baltic countries as well. Some analysts suggest that such articles are targeted as a test how would different people react to it.

What would be the response of ordinary people, experts, politicians, officials and the like? The major context of such an opinion could be a demonstration of a reaction on possible military aggression from the Russian side on NATO member countries. Of course this is a different case. However, Russia tries this as well.

The diplomats in their letter about south Caucasus give some recommendations as well. These are: strengthening of democracy, improving the economy and reinforcing defenses. All these parameters are very important for Georgia.

Georgia’s parliamentary elections last year and a peaceful change of government suggest that the democratic process is successful in Georgia. The current government is doing its best in continuing the democratic development of the country. Many suggest that the upcoming presidential elections of October 27th could become a vivid indicator of the country’s democratic performance.

Economic improvements in Georgia so far are not very encouraging. The ruling authorities claim that the previous administration, which mislead the country's economic development made a bid on short-term moves, which provided some quick visible results, but which failed the country's long term economic development system. According to the new administration, Georgia needs some time to regulate the situation.

Georgia’s engagement with Russia that provoked the August 2008 War showed clearly the problems that exist in the Georgian defense system.

Moscow imposed an unofficial embargo on the selling arms to Georgia. Most of Georgia’s military hardware is Russian-made and according to this embargo, no countries that produce Russian weaponry can sell it to Tbilisi. So Georgia has to reorient its military equipment systems to NATO standards. However, until recently, NATO countries including the U.S were reluctant to provide Georgia with military equipment.

So the concern of the diplomats is timely and it gives ground for deep analyses from all sides.