Having Your Cake and Eating It


Georgia’s historical destiny has been tempered and shaped at many different crossroads of social, economic and geopolitical character. The truth-seeking process here has always been extremely painful, and often times has not resulted in anything overly significant for the nation’s good.

Even today, opinions differ drastically over whether it was the right decision to ask for the protectorate of the Russian Empire a little over two hundred years ago when Georgia had lost its crucial defensive war against Persia, as a result of which materialized the compelling circumstance pushing Georgia right under the rule of a powerful northern neighbor of the same faith. The royal decision of that time has always been a matter of dispute in this country – research, books, articles, conferences, public commentary and governmental opinions have all been poised to elucidate the issue, but we the people of Georgia are still unclear about it: was it good or bad that Georgia once made that historic step towards palling up with Russia both in a tactical and strategic sense?

The discussion is still hot, and hard feelings about the whole thing never go away. This is why Georgia never stops being torn apart between the two dominant political stands. Georgia does not know for sure which direction to take in its future development – to stick to its newly made geostrategic choice of propelling itself into a happy Euro-Atlantic family of nations, thus being baptized as a country of modern Western civilization, or forever forget the previous injuries and resentments and embrace again its old big brother and tested partner in order to continue the somewhat risky and precarious pattern of survival.

Thoughts are alive and churning in our unfortunate heads about both versions of further living, about playing both cards rather wisely and gingerly. The competition between the sides to win Georgia’s heart and mind, as well as its geopolitical disposition, is obvious, and Georgia’s vacillation between the two is also clearly noticeable. That said, a certain amount of latency is felt in the behavior of the fighting big powers like America and Russia and the quivering little subject of dispute like Georgia.

Now the dilemma for us is how to stay safe if the clash between the biggies, flanked by their respective smaller satellites, becomes visible. Georgia has already made a formal choice to westernize itself as much as possible at this time, having given full access to its soul and body to caring Euro-Atlantic hands; mastering their means and ways, learning their language, using their money and emulating their behavior.

At the same time, Georgia has not completely become unused to soviet-time brotherhood, way of life, economic crutches and socio-cultural exchanges. So the impression is that we want a piece of both cakes. And if we really do, why is it so impossible to have and eat both? Why can’t we say loudly and openly that we are no longer in a position of fighting for our survival and spilling blood to stay alive? Why can’t we reveal our political aspirations and strategic sentiments straightforwardly that we organically want to be part of the Western caboodle because we feel like it, and we have a simultaneous desire not to give up on Russia for good because there are some old attachments and obligations as well as hopes to resuscitate the broken marriage.

To go further with these courageous dreams, we might even play a conciliatory role between the two snarling animals, refusing the position of a miserable bone of contention. Cautiously eschewing the possible image of a geopolitical speculator, Georgia might have a good chance of making an exemplary peaceful haven out of its territory by talking persistently and transparently to each and every member of its closest geopolitical community about mutually beneficial cooperation and fruitful coexistence between all of them. Why should this be impossible? Why can’t Russia and Turkey make peace here on this beautiful land – the door is open! Why can’t America and Russia shake hands while sitting at the festive Georgian table? Why can’t the Azeri and Armenians give each other a hug when visiting Tbilisi and having fun together? Is this too romantic a thought? All in our hands at these weird crossroads!

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

18 February 2016 21:15