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Georgia attentively watches Ukrainian events

By Messenger Staff
Friday, February 21
The whole world has been concerned over the recent unrest in Ukraine. People in Tbilisi think these events are of particular importance to Georgia, thinking it might impact Georgian domestic and foreign politics.

Opinions are mainly divided into two parts. There are people who support the Ukrainian people’s European choice and there are others - who condemn “extremism” in Ukraine. The latter promote the idea of distancing from the West and turning to the North.

Meanwhile, Tbilisi is officially balanced between these two positions. It condemns the bloodshed in Ukraine, but stops short of identifying Russia being the power behind all of it.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili and President Giorgi Margvelashvili made official statements concerning the Ukrainian situation. Both of them expressed their regret about the bloodshed in the country and urged the confronting sides to sit at a peaceful negotiation table and settle the situation in the country through dialogue.

Of course they have stressed that it is the primary responsibility of President Victor Yanukovich to put all his efforts into stopping the violence and starting a dialogue with the opposition.

Ukrainian flags have been unraveled at the Georgian parliament on February 19 as an expression of sympathy towards the Ukrainian people. Thus, the Georgian parliament was against the escalation of violence in Ukraine, supporting dialogue.

Rallies have been held as a sign of solidarity towards the protesters in Ukraine in the Georgian cities of Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi. Representatives of the former Georgian administration are particularly active.

There are different interpretations among the supporters of Georgia’s new and old leadership. Some compare Yanukovich with the former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, bringing up the brutal dispersal of peaceful demonstrations in Tbilisi by his administration in recent years as an example for comparison.

Some analysts consider that the results of the confrontation in Ukraine might influence the situation in Georgia as the key player – the Russian Federation – is supporting Yanukovich’s regime. And if he wins, Russian influence will further increase in the post-Soviet space causing Georgia to receive another wave of pressure aimed at suppressing the country’s European claims.

Here in Georgia, people are attentively watching the Western reaction over events unfolding in Kiev. The popular approach is that “the utmost concern” expressed by Western leaders is not that impressive anymore. People demand radical and categorical involvement of the European states in calming down the situation in Ukraine.

Georgian analysts think that the West should be stricter towards both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents. Otherwise, Russia will take initiative to settle the situation in Ukraine. Thus, it will confirm again its leading role in the post-Soviet arena and the West will once again appear on the sidelines like it has in Syria.

In this case, Georgia will also fall under Russian pressure.