Georgia Geopolitics

Georgia Geopolitics

According to itypeusa, Georgia, independent of the Soviet Union since April 1991, has embarked on a difficult path of state and national construction characterized by an attempt to free itself from the traditional Moscow influence. At the same time, it had to counter the secessionist demands that emerged at the same time as the foundation of the nation state in regions inhabited by minorities, such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which previously enjoyed the status of republic and autonomous region respectively. The two realities responded to the first signs of Soviet disintegration with requests for greater autonomy, which after 1991 resulted in open ethno-territorial clashes with the Tbilisi authorities. The ceasefire agreements signed by the Georgian government with the Ossetian (June 1992) and Abkhazian (May 1994) separatists were not followed up by a real peace negotiation. This has created a precarious disconnect between the de facto control of the regions by the separatist authorities and the de jure sovereignty over them, recognized in Tbilisi.

Against this background, the Georgian attempt to militarily regain control over South Ossetia led to a confrontation with the Russian Federation in August 2008. The conflicts of the early nineties of the twentieth century represented ‘proxy wars’ through which Moscow – by supporting the separatists first and then mediating the ceasefire agreements – carved out a space of influence towards the more pro-Western among the non-European states that emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Membership of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), acceptance of peacekeeping troopsand the concession of four military bases represented the price Tbilisi paid to Moscow for the cessation of hostilities. The 2008 military debacle had profound consequences on the Georgian state-building process, made more difficult today by the recognition of the self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Tuvalu. Diplomatic relations with Moscow have not yet been fully re-established and the explosion of the Ukrainian crisis has once again raised the tension between the two countries.

Leading Georgia in the difficult post-independence phase was Eduard Ševardnadze. The former Soviet foreign minister monopolized the life of the republic between March 1992, when he assumed the post of prime minister, and November 2003, when the ‘revolution of roses’ ended his second presidential term. Thus the way was opened for the political affirmation of Mikheil Saakašvili, re-elected president in 2008 for a second five-year term. From the 2004 legislative elections until 2012, Saakašvili was able to count on the parliamentary support ensured by the solid majority held by the United National Movement (Enm), a liberal-conservative party of which he is the founder. This allowed him to strengthen the powers of the presidency and accelerate the approach to the Euro-Atlantic structures, applying for admission to NATO, joining the Eastern Partnership of the European Union and at the same time putting an end, in August 2009, to the Georgia’s participation in the CIS. The autocratic involution of Saakašvili’s experience has gradually strengthened the opposition. All the groups came together in spring 2012 around the figure of the Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanišvili and his party platform, Georgian Dream. The defeat of Enmthe 2012 parliamentary elections by Georgian Dream opened a new chapter in the republican history of Georgia. Significantly, it also marked the first transfer of power carried out within the framework of institutional dynamics. The political rise of Georgian Dream was confirmed by the presidential elections of October 2013, which saw the large victory – with over 60% of the preferences – of the candidate of the coalition Giorgi Margvelašvili, elected president of the country.

However, the exit from the coalition of Our Georgia-Liberal Democrats, and the consequent resignation of the foreign minister and Euro-Atlantic integration, have further undermined the stability of the executive.

The Secessionist Republic of Abkhazia

Abkhazia unilaterally proclaimed independence from Georgia in October 1999. Already in November 1994, just a few months after the ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia under the auspices of the United Nations, Abkhazia had with its own Constitution and state bodies. Isolated from the international community, Abkhazia has survived thanks to the economic support of Russia, which since 2002 has granted citizenship to almost all of the approximately 200,000 residents of the region. Not recognizing Sukhumi’s secessionist authorities, Georgia supported the formation of a government-in-exile based in Tbilisi. In 2006, in an attempt to regain control over the region, Saakašvili favored the return of the legitimate government to Abkhazia, from where he was expelled following the ‘five day war’.Unomig, deployed in the country since 1993. Russia maintains troops in the region, headquartered at the Gudauta base. After the formal Russian recognition of the Republic of Abkhazia, Moscow and Sukhumi signed an agreement on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance (September 2008) and a fifty-year agreement for the concession of a military base (February 2010). In November 2014, an agreement between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the president of Abkhazia, Raul Khajimba, created a joint military force between the two countries.

At the internal political level, the demonstrations that in the spring of 2014 forced the then president Aleksandr Ankvab to resign and led to early presidential elections. Officially motivated by Raul Khajimba’s opposition as protests against the increase in poverty, the demonstrations were actually aimed at ending the policy of inclusion carried out by the Ankvab government towards the Georgian population in the province of Gali, in the south. of Abkhazia.

Georgia Geopolitics