With the recent decision of Armenia to join Customs Union instead of getting a free trade deal with the EU, once again demonstrated how dangerous can Russia get in the EU's neighbourhood. Since it became clear that there is a high probability of 4 Eastern Partnership countries – Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia to move closer to the EU, Kremlin intensified threats towards governments in Kiev and Chisinau. Method used to convince EaP countries about the ‘beauty’ of Customs Union and Eurasian Union are classic for Russia and it has been already applied to Georgia throughout last years. Putting embargo on Moldovan products, playing with the issue of Transnistrian conflict, manipulating with gas prices, offering financial benefits to Ukrainian government.. Quite strong leverage for Moscow to make foreign policy shift in respective governments, as they already did in Armenia.

In fact, Russia didn’t even need to threaten Yerevan, as Armenians simply do not have many options. Country is landlocked because of relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey and heavily dependent on Russian economy. As well as Nagorno-Karabakh issue is very important and Armenia needs Russia’s backing.. Hence, for Putin it was not hard to convince Armenian counterpart to abandon DCFTA at the moment when country has basically finalized the negotiations with the EU.

In this situation, when Russia is openly threatening Moldova and Ukraine, when they have already managed to induce Armenian president, Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili is apparently “studying” and “observing” how Eurasian Union is evolving. So that he might consider joining it later. In addition to that, he noted that Georgia has no position yet about this issue.

(c) voiceofrussia.com

I don’t know how aware current PM is of Georgian Foreign Policy Strategy, but it is explicit in number of chapters of this document that European and Euro-Atlantic Integration is a key foreign policy goal of Georgia. And considering Customs and Eurasian Union as an alternative, is simply not compatible with even the declaratory foreign policy goals of this government. 
Not to mention that idea of joining these institutions will be largely unpopular among the population of Georgia.

Let me also recall different researches conducted by the CRRC and EU Neighbourhood Barometer, which demonstrates that Georgians have highest trust towards the EU within EaP countries (I’d argue that higher than anywhere else). In comparison with the overall 43 % of positive attitude in the ENP East, 51 % of Georgian citizens have very positive attitude towards the EU. With 40 % neutral and only 11 % of negative attitude. Also based on the same research, most Georgians feel the European Union is an important partner of their country, and would like it to play an even greater role in Georgia, across a range of areas.

(c) Radio Liberty
Based on the CRRC research, if there were a referendum on joining the EU tomorrow, four out of five Georgians would vote yes.” As well as, eighty percent of Georgians would vote to join the EU (79% in 2009), and 88% think Georgia should be a member of the EU, up from 81% in 2009.

I think these figures say a lot about the choice of people of Georgia and maybe Mr. Ivanishvili could have skimmed it once again before making another political mistake?! Hundreds years of historical lessons from Russia, should have been enough to learn that these kind of statements won’t serve for the interests of the Georgia. Country, which has been recently invaded by Russia and which doesn’t control up to 20 percent of its territories. Not to mention that after numerous endeavours to settle relations with Kremlin, metre by metre Russia still continues to shift border on Georgian side..

Under these circumstances, statement of Georgian PM was largely immature, if not betrayal of Georgia's security and foreign policy interests.  I still hope that it was the case of political immaturity rather than a deliberate step..


Anonymous said...

Black font on a black background makes your contribution impossible to read...

Giorgi Tabagari said...

Thank you for the comment, but I don't quite get what do you exactly mean. posts are on white background with black letters

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