13.05.2007
The Paradoxes of Russia’s Georgia Policy
№2 2007 April/June
Sergey Markedonov

Ph.D. (History), is assistant professor at the Regional Studies and Foreign Policy department of the Russian State University for Humanities.

Relations between
Russia and Georgia are going through their worst period since the
breakup of the Soviet Union. Even during the Georgian-Ossetian
(1990-1992) and Georgian-Abkhazian (1992-1993) armed conflicts,
Moscow did not impose an economic or transport blockade. Moreover,
the information wars were far less pitched than they have been in
the past two years.
 The once “brotherly” republic has become the most difficult
and uncooperative CIS member state with respect to Moscow. In a
review of Russia’s foreign policy published in March 2007, Georgia
was “awarded” the most negative value amongst all of Russia’s
international partners.

PAST AND
PRESENT

Many Western
experts are perplexed by Moscow’s perseverance to preserve its
domination in this part of the post-Soviet area.
Indeed, in the early 1990s, Russia effortlessly abandoned
territorial claims to Ukraine and Kazakhstan, although in the
ethno-cultural respect, northern and eastern Kazakhstan, or the
Crimea and Donbass in Ukraine, are considerably closer to Russia
than Georgia. The Kremlin’s Baltic policy seemed far more passive
than its policy in the Caucasus, even though Latvia and Estonia
have large ethnic Russian communities.

Moscow is
involved in Central Asian political processes much less than it is
in the South Caucasus. In 2001, Russia gave the go-ahead to
America’s penetration into the region, and today does not
particularly object to its “development” by the Chinese. Although
Russian-Moldovan relations also leave much to be desired, Moscow,
at least in word, is ready to revise its policy of sanctions
against Chisinau. Moreover, it does not rule out the involvement of
other countries in the settlement of the Transdnestrian
problem.

Georgia is an
utterly different case. Here, Russian diplomacy is the least
inclined to make concessions or compromise. The Kremlin is also
striving to preserve its exclusive role in resolving “frozen
conflicts” and to exclude other “honest brokers” from the
process.

Russian-Georgian
relations are rather paradoxical. On the one hand, there are
traditional – primarily socio-cultural – ties. As is known, for
over 200 years Georgia had been part of the Russian Empire. Its
political class was incorporated into the Russian establishment
(from the Bagrationi Dynasty to Eduard Shevardnadze). The Georgian
elite (primarily Georgian generals and officers in the Russian
Imperial Army) were highly instrumental in establishing Russia’s
domination in the Caucasus. Without such an imperial outpost as
Tiflis (now Tbilisi), Russia’s successful operations in the
Caucasus War (1817-1864) would have been impossible; ditto for the
quelling of the 1866 uprising in Abkhazia, not to mention wars
against Persia (1804-1813 and 1826-1828) and the Ottoman Porta
(1806-1812, 1828-1829, 1853-1856, and 1877-1878).

For almost one
and a half centuries, Georgia and Georgians were associated in the
minds of the North Caucasus peoples with Russian imperial policy.
Even in the lead-up to the Georgian-Abkhazian armed conflict, the
Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, in its numerous
declarations, regarded the “little empire” (Georgia) as a natural
ally of the “great empire” (Russia). Historically, the key role in
the South Caucasus belonged to Georgia: unsurprisingly, the
residence of the Russian viceroy in the Caucasus was located in
Tiflis.

But on the other
hand, there is a burden of mutual claims and contradictions
inherited from the perestroika and post-Soviet period, which seems
to prevail now. The April 1989 events in Tbilisi (when
Transcaucasian Military District forces were used to break up a
demonstration) marked a turning point for independent Georgia,
becoming a catalyst in the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The
acquisition of sovereignty was accompanied by a rise of
anti-Russian sentiments in Georgia. Meanwhile, in the eyes of
Moscow’s military-political establishment in the 1990s, Eduard
Shevardnadze was seen primarily as an associate of the
“contemptible Gorbachev.” Therefore, any actions by the Georgian
leader were viewed as potentially hostile.

It would have
seemed that the ouster of the former member of the Soviet Communist
Party Politburo and the advent of Mikhail Saakashvili should have
substantially changed relations between the two countries. But the
policy pursued by the leader of the “rose revolution,” designed to
consolidate the Georgian lands, began with a search for an external
enemy who could be blamed for the Transcaucasian republic’s failure
to become a viable state. With such an approach, post-Soviet
Georgia’s responsibility for the interethnic conflicts in South
Ossetia and Abkhazia was laid at Russia’s doorstep. Thus, the
Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts effectively
turned into Russian-Georgian conflicts.

In Georgia’s
political establishment and expert community, the idea of “fleeing
the Russian Empire” (virtually no distinction was made between
pre-1917 Russia, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation)
became the keynote of its foreign policy, as well as a precondition
for its liberalization and integration into the community of
“civilized states” and the “Western world.” Therefore, according to
ideologues of “nascent Georgian democracy,” it could only emerge
victorious in a confrontation with Moscow by placing a bet on
full-scale cooperation with the United States, European countries
and international organizations (primarily NATO). The general
expectation was that the “Western choice” would bring Georgia
internal stability and peace. This position has naturally provoked
a strong reaction from Moscow, which is resentful of any
extra-regional players appearing in the post-Soviet era.

Today, it seems
that the array of mutual charges and claims has been exhausted. The
question arises: Will the entire positive experience in
Russian-Georgian relations be limited to historical recollections?
If politicians in both states are not being disingenuous when
saying that good-neighborly relations between the two countries are
in the national interests of both Russia and Georgia, where is the
potential for breaking the deadlock and restoring trust?

AN OBJECTIVE
APPROACH

Today, like never
before, analysis of Russian-Georgian relations requires an
objective approach. Objectivity is not synonymous to impartiality:
it would be na?ve to believe that the ethno-political problems of
the Caucasus today can be studied on the basis of the “without
anger and bias” principle.

First, all talk
about hidden motives behind Moscow and Tbilisi’s actions will
remain pure speculation until researchers gain access to essential
documents and archives. What were the circumstances in which the
Georgian authorities made the decision to “march on Tskhinvali” in
1989, or to bring troops into Abkhazia in August 1992? What was
really happening in the Pankisi Gorge in the late 1990s, and who
stood behind Ruslan Gelayev’s raid in the Kodori Gorge in 2001?
What unidentified flying objects appeared in the zones of the
frozen conflicts? Finally, who in Russia prepared and issued the
orders to deport Georgians in the fall of 2006? All these questions
can only be answered after the relevant archival materials have
been studied. In the meantime, we will have to make do with
memoirs, eyewitness accounts, sociological surveys and
anthropological studies.

Second, no matter
how much Russian and foreign analysts talk about their objectivity,
it is unavoidable that the researchers’ level of “impartiality”
will be minimal. For most analysts of Caucasian affairs today,
concepts such as militants, refugees, terrorists or advocates of
the national idea and religious revival are not abstract
notions.

So what is an
objective analysis of Russian-Georgian relations? Today,
post-Soviet politics have become extremely personified. We say
‘Georgia,’ when we actually mean Mikhail Saakashvili. We say
‘Russia,’ when we are really talking about Vladimir Putin.
Oftentimes, there are attempts to limit the tensions in the
Caucasus (disputes between Russia and Georgia, the ongoing conflict
between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the problems of the unrecognized
states) by explaining them as confrontations between particular
personalities, be it Putin and Saakashvili, or Ilham Aliyev and
Robert Kocharyan.

Meanwhile, an
in-depth analysis of the situation in the region leads to the
following conclusion: even the highly influential leaders of the
Caucasus countries (among them Russia, which includes seven
Caucasian and four “near-Caucasian” administrative entities of the
Russian Federation) have to act within the narrow corridors of
opportunity. The leadership of the Caucasian administrative
entities is tied hand and foot by objective circumstances, and
taking these circumstances into account is essential for strategic
policy planning in the Caucasus. An objective approach would help
avoid both illusions and inadequate assessments concerning the
prospects for the evolution of a particular ethno-political
crisis.

Today, the
Georgian president (whoever he might be now or in the future)
cannot abandon political claims to Abkhazia or South Ossetia
without putting his position at risk. Therefore, attacking Mikhail
Saakashvili for excessive Russophobia is a serious
over-simplification of the situation. Likewise, the assertion that
Saakashvili is a “U.S. puppet” is too sweeping of a generalization
and categorical. In striving to “consolidate Georgia,” he is acting
like a pragmatic politician. If Russia’s political resources were
used to attain this objective, he would become pro-Russian. But
since Moscow rules out the possibility for a unilateral withdrawal
from Abkhazia and South Ossetia (without fully resolving the
conflicts in these trouble spots), Saakashvili opted for a
strategic partnership with the United States.

The Georgian
leader is not an easy partner to deal with. He is prone to populism
and ethno-nationalism. Yet, one cannot ignore the fact that he
enjoys considerable popularity in his country (this is even
acknowledged by his opponents in Georgia). Nor can one disregard
the consensus on Abkhazia and South Ossetia that has evolved within
Georgia’s political and expert community. Today, the president is
being criticized for his antidemocratic and populist policies
(voiced by the Republican Party and the New Right Forces of
Georgia), for shortfalls in Georgia’s social policy and extreme
“Westernism” (voiced by the Labor Party, led by Shalva
Natelashvili), and his insufficient stance in dealing with Russia
and the CIS (voiced by the Republican Party). At the same time, all
of these parties completely support the president’s approach toward
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Even Igor Giorgadze, former security
minister and now leader of the Justice party (who is seen in
Georgia as a Russian spy), in his policy speeches, says that
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are inalienable parts of a single
Georgia.

Not even Eduard
Shevardnadze was ready to give up Abkhazia, although the former
first secretary of the Central Committee of Georgia’s Communist
Party was linked to Russia (both formally and informally) much
closer than his successor is now. It was on Shevardnadze’s watch,
in 1994, that Georgia joined the CIS, acceded to the Collective
Security Treaty, gave the go-ahead to a peacekeeping operation in
Abkhazia, and started demonstrating a pro-Russia mood. In 1993, the
former Transcaucasian Military District Force was reorganized as
the Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasia. A year later,
Moscow and Tbilisi signed a treaty on military cooperation, and
then the Group of Russian Border Forces in Georgia was created.
During the first half of the 1990s, the Russian military bases in
Georgia became a target of critical attacks by the opposition, but
not by Tbilisi.

Shevardnadze
hoped to regain control of Abkhazia with Russian assistance, but to
no avail. The short-term resumption of the Georgian-Abkhazian
conflict in 1998 pushed Georgia toward the United States, but
Shevardnadze could not be blamed for that. Any Georgian leader in
his place would have done the same or almost the same.

THE SOUTH
CAUCASUS AND THE SECURITY OF THE NORTH CAUCASUS

The Russian
position is also clear-cut. Russia’s interests in Abkhazia were
formulated by Boris Yeltsin, who at first was not ready to support
Abkhazian leader Vladislav Ardzinba. Shevardnadze, Yeltsin’s former
colleague at the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee, was
closer to him in many respects, but objective circumstances
compelled him to distance himself from the “White Fox.”

Those
circumstances included the Adyg-speaking parts of Russia
(Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Adygeya, and the
Krasnodar Territory). These are regions with complex histories and
a long list of complaints against Russia – from the Caucasus War
and the resettlement of Abkhazians to Turkey after the
Russo-Turkish War of 1877-878, to cultural assimilation. Had Russia
just “ditched” Abkhazia, Russia’s “internal Abkhazia” could have
caused serious problems. Against the backdrop of Chechnya and
Dagestan, such a move would have been dangerous to Russia’s
internal security.

A similar
situation is developing in South Ossetia, as distinct from
Adzharia, another breakaway region in Georgia (Russia has no ethnic
or cultural links with the Adzharians, thus, the striking contrast
between Moscow’s reaction to two events in 2004: the ouster of
Adzharian leader Aslan Abashidze and an attempt by Georgia to lay a
siege on Tskhinvali). Tbilisi continues to dramatize the problem of
Georgian (or rather, Megrelian) refugees from Abkhazia, but keeps
silent about the exodus of Ossetians from Georgia in the early
1990s. In pre-war Georgia, about 100,000 Ossetians lived outside
South Ossetia, whereas in the former South Ossetian Autonomous
District they numbered 63,200 (according to 1989 statistics).
Ossetians were the fifth largest ethnic community in the Georgian
Soviet Socialist Republic, after Georgians, Armenians, Russians,
and Azerbaijanis, while their overall number exceeded the number of
Abkhazians who lived in concentrated settlements (according to the
1989 nationwide poll, there were 93,000 Abkhazians). Before the
1990-1992 hostilities, Ossetians lived mainly in Tbilisi (33,318),
Tskhinvali (31,537), Gori (8,222), and Rustavi (5,613).

Today, there are
about 30,000 Ossetians in Georgia. It is very difficult to make
judgments about their real situation since no monitoring has been
conducted for the past few years. However, there is no reason to
trust Tbilisi’s statements that the rights and freedoms of
Georgia’s ethnic Ossetians are fully guaranteed. Meanwhile, almost
all refugees from Georgia’s inland regions (including South
Ossetian residents) have settled down in North Ossetia, which is a
part of Russia (including in the Prigorodny District, which is
being claimed by neighboring Ingushetia). This category of North
Ossetia’s population became the susceptible to the nationalist
rhetoric of North Ossetian political leaders in the early
1990s.

During the
Ossetian-Ingush conflict of 1992 (the first armed conflict on
Russian soil), residents of Georgia’s inland regions and South
Ossetia played a rather active role. This accounts for the strong
reaction from Russian leaders whenever there are any indiscrete
actions or militarist rhetoric coming out of Tbilisi (for example,
the statement by former Defense Minister Irakly Okruashvili about
‘celebrating the New Year in Tskhinvali’). New waves of refugees to
North Ossetia would only serve to worsen Ossetian-Ingush
relations.

The majority of
ethno-political problems in the south of Russia are closely linked
to conflicts in the former Soviet Transcaucasian republics. This
refers not only to open but also latent conflicts. The forcible
ouster of Kvareli Avars from Georgia in the early 1990s created
trouble spots in the north of Dagestan. The Avars, who were moving
to the Kizlyar and Tarum areas of Dagestan, came into conflict with
ethnic Russians and Nogays, which caused a substantial outflow of
Russians from northern parts of Dagestan. The settlement of the
“Chechen issue” is to a considerable degree contingent on the
settlement of the situation in Georgia’s Akhmeta District (Pankisi
Gorge). Therefore, security in Russia’s Caucasus is impossible
without stability in Georgia.

Russia can be
criticized for supporting Abkhazian separatism, but the pro-Russian
mood of the overwhelming majority of the Abkhazian community (as
well as of Abkhazia’s other ethnic communities – Armenians,
Russians) and their reluctance to see anyone but Russian troops as
a peacekeeper is a fact that cannot be ignored. Unsurprisingly,
there are simply no pro-Georgian politicians in Abkhazia – this,
given that the Abkhazian “government-in-exile” is led by ethnic
Georgians. The situation in South Ossetia is somewhat different.
There are pro-Georgian politicians there (e.g., Dmitry Sanakoyev
and Uruzmag Karkusov), while both Sanakoyev (the current
“alternative” president of South Ossetia) and Karkusov fought
against the Georgians in the 1990-92 conflict.

Whereas Tbilisi
is ready to negotiate the high status for Abkhazia as part of
Georgia (although the Abkhazian authorities today are striving for
full independence), its position with respect to South Ossetia is
different. Presently, officials in Tbilisi use the term “Tskhinvali
District” in reference to the area, and refuse to revoke a decree,
dating back to the days of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, on the abolition of
the South Ossetian autonomy (1990). In effect, they still adhere to
the formula devised by Gamsakhurdia himself: “there are Ossetians
in Georgia, but there is no Ossetia.”

This explains the
popularity of Eduard Kokoity, the leader of the de-facto state of
South Ossetia. Ethnic minorities in Georgia are interested in the
Russian presence in Georgia and regard Russian peacekeepers as a
guarantee of their security. And whereas the withdrawal of Russian
troops from Georgia is a foregone conclusion, it is premature to
push for the pullout of peacekeepers from South Ossetia or
Abkhazia. Especially considering that they ensured the repatriation
of about 60,000 Georgian (Mingrelian) refugees to Abkhazia, and
also prevented further Georgian-Abkhazian conflicts – in the spring
and summer of 1998, the fall of 2001 and the winter and summer of
2006.

As for Russian
operations in South Ossetia, in the early 1990s they helped protect
Georgian villages there.

The overriding
priority for Moscow today is not to acquire new territories. Russia
has to show to the Georgian elite, as well as to the international
community, that rejection of Russian
peacekeepers is bound to revive conflicts,
jeopardizing the security of Russia’s North Caucasus – consider the
events around Tskhinvali in 2004-05 and the Kodori Gorge in 2006.
But the build-up of Georgian military might and militarist rhetoric
with respect to South Ossetia and Abkhazia can destabilize Russia’s
border regions, which would be more than just a “loss of face” to
Russia.

So, improvement
in Russian-Georgian relations can only be expected in areas that
are not directly connected with South Ossetia or Abkhazia. For
Georgia to leave Abkhazia or South Ossetia means to admit the
failure of the “Georgian independence” project, which started in
April 1989. To Russia, that would mean further destabilization in
the North Caucasus. But what are the alternatives for ending the
stalemate?

Today, Russia and
Georgia have different views on the causes and character of these
interethnic conflicts. Tbilisi and Moscow differently assess the
“Westernization” of the South Caucasus and the post-Soviet area as
a whole. In Georgia’s estimation, European and North Atlantic
integration is a criterion of civilization and democracy; for
Russia, it is an encroachment on her special interests. The two
also disagree on Russia’s military-political presence in the
Caucasus. Whereas to Moscow, it is primarily an issue of security
in the North Caucasus, to Tbilisi, it is imperial ambitions and the
threat of annexation.

IN SEARCH OF A
NEW “MENU”

The list of
contradictions, claims and counterclaims made by the two countries
could be continued ad infinitum. Unfortunately, it is far more
difficult to “inventory” possible areas of rapprochement and
harmonization of interests. Meanwhile, such areas do exist, as
Moscow and Tbilisi have stated repeatedly. It is another matter
that such areas of overlapping interests have not been
systematized. Experts from both countries have not taken it upon
themselves to prepare a new “menu” of Russian-Georgian
relations.

There is some
experience along these lines in Eurasia. In the early 1990s,
Russian-Azerbaijani relations dramatically plummeted. Bilateral
relations were plagued by the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh, which
Azerbaijan lost in 1994. But by excluding the autonomous area from
the Russian-Azerbaijani agenda and concentrating on other issues,
which earlier had seemed secondary (cross-border cooperation, the
problem of “divided people,” cooperation in the Caspian, economic
relations, and the fight against Islamic radicalism), the two
countries brought their positions considerably closer to each
other. The fruit of the efforts were quickly forthcoming: two
official visits by the Russian president to Azerbaijan, a deal with
Baku on the future of the Gabala radar in Azerbaijan, active
cooperation between the countries’ business elites, and the
recognition of Moscow’s role as mediator in the
Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.

Incidentally, the
statement about the need to deploy peacekeepers (quite possibly
from Russia) in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was first
proposed not by Yerevan but by Baku. During his first visit to
Azerbaijan, in 2001, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the
burial site of Baku residents who were killed in a police operation
in January 1990, which was perceived as a positive signal.
Unfortunately, later, during a breakdown in energy negotiations
between Russia and Azerbaijan in late 2006, critically referred to
as a “gas attack,” practically wiped out the achievements that
Moscow had made in its relations with Baku in the previous six
years.

Constructive
development of Russian-Georgian relations today requires a similar
“Azerbaijanization.”

First, the
Ossetian and Abkhazian issues should be excluded from the political
“menu.” They should be transferred from the category of propaganda
provocations to the pile of diplomatic problems.

Second, emphasis
should be placed on tackling problems affecting the national
security of both countries, primarily the joint protection of the
Chechen, Ingush, and Dagestan sections of the state border.
Incidentally, the U.S. administration no longer provides Georgia
effective assistance in guarding its borders. Russia could assume
this responsibility, also enlisting the support of the
international community and clearing itself of charges of pursuing
an anti-Georgia policy.

The security of
areas bordering Georgia is a key to stability in Russia’s North
Caucasus, especially considering that politicians and experts in
Tbilisi still shudder at the memory of “free
Ichkeria,”w
ith many Georgian officials stating off the record that the
“self-determination of the North Caucasus” would be a nightmare for
their country. Georgia needs Russia as a strong and viable state,
capable of effectively controlling its southern borders. Further
destabilization of Dagestan will not be limited to a “Pankisi
scenario” for Georgia. In the event of a full-scale crisis in this
Russian republic, Georgian territory will quickly become a place of
missionary activity by the Salafis (Wahhabis), already fraught with
a rise in sectarian problems and interethnic conflicts.

The next
important step in improving our relations should be revisiting the
idea of creating joint anti-terrorist centers. Nino Burdzhanadze,
Gela Bezhuashvili and many other high-ranking state and government
officials in Tbilisi put forward this idea. Russia could thus
preserve, in some form or other, its military-political presence in
the region and also help Georgia create effective anti-terrorism
forces. Today, Tbilisi would probably make this plan contingent on
a number of conditions. However, it must be said that this idea was
much closer to its practical implementation in 2004 than it is now
– at least there was no “Abkhazian” or “Ossetian” linkage
then.

Finally, our two
countries cannot ignore the subject of economics; Kakha Bendukidze
(economy minister) and Salome Zurabishvili (former foreign minister
who is now in opposition to the Georgian presidential team) drove
home this point. Privatization of Georgian enterprises by Russian
business would be a sure guarantee of Georgia’s successful
development without any confrontation with Russia. The United
States and the EU consider the South Caucasus a high-risk region,
whereas Russian business, supported by the Russian and Georgian
states, could also be useful in expediting Georgia’s economic
recovery and economic diversification.

To jumpstart the
deadlocked relations, it is essential to abandon the phantoms and
delusions that have affected the minds of politicians and diplomats
on either side of the Caucasus Ridge.
It is time Moscow realized that economic blockades and “wine wars”
can only strengthen Mikhail Saakashvili’s regime. Meanwhile,
internal discontent with his populist policies and authoritarian
methods recedes in the face of the looming threat from the north,
which strengthens national solidarity. The fear of the Russian
Federation unites people with different political views around the
Georgian president.

If the Kremlin
has a problem with Saakashvili and identifies Georgia’s policy with
him, betting on such politicians as Igor Giorgadze is not a very
good way of forcing a regime change. It seems that the experience
with Raul Khadzhimba (Russia’s protege at the presidential
elections in Abkhazia in 2004) has taught it nothing; betting on
“reliable people” only because they belong to the “intelligence
community” does not seem to work. Giorgadze – unlike Salome
Zurabishvili, a strong opposition figure, or Kakha Bendukidze, who
is slightly critical (in particular, on the issue of Georgia’s CIS
membership) – does not enjoy much support in Georgia and is rather
reminiscent of an ordinary political émigré. Today,
Russia needs “reliable Georgians” – not at well-guarded facilities
near Moscow – but in Tbilisi.

At the same time,
Georgia’s hopes for Western assistance seem na?ve at best. To the
Americans, the Caucasus is important primarily as an element in
their complex geopolitical schemes (Iran, the Middle East). To the
United States, which is seeking political domination in the Middle
East, the reopening of ethnic conflicts is something it would
obviously want to avoid. Washington, which is becoming bogged down
in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in the standoff with Iran, will
not want to get involved in some war for “great
Georgia.”

Europe, with its
“policy of good-neighborliness,” also has a different agenda. The
EU is interested in building bridges to hydrocarbon-rich parts of
the Caspian and Central Asia, while the Caucasus is a transit
territory whose stability is crucial for these plans. Resolving
ethnic conflicts and spreading the European system of values is the
EU’s priority in the Caucasus.

But when the EU
takes stock of the situation in the Caucasus from a political
perspective, factoring in the problem of unrecognized states, it
will see the possible implications – e.g., Tbilisi’s military
revenge in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, accompanied by a surge in
xenophobia and military hysteria, casualties, and a flow of
refugees. After the trouble it had in the former Yugoslavia, the EU
will hardly want to take responsibility for resolving the problem
of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Especially considering that in
the foreseeable future, the EU will have too much on its plate to
get involved in external problems. Furthermore, judging from its
experience in Yugoslavia, the EU is more likely to recognize new
states than fight for somebody else’s territorial
integrity.

Thus, U.S. and EU
presence in the South Caucasus, so desired by Tbilisi, would only
complicate rather than facilitate the “consolidation of Georgian
lands.” Moreover, Moscow’s position will continue to toughen as
Georgia moves toward NATO. Attempts to bypass Russia by way of the
Western flank will be to no avail. Therefore, there are no
alternatives but to identify those “points of convergence” between
Moscow and Tbilisi.