We Love Them, We Love Them Not…


Forecasts in politics are considered a thankless task, especially when it comes to Russia. However, it should be noted that the Kremlin’s new policy has been successful so far. “Refrigerator” instead of “Iskanders” turned out to be much more attractive for Georgians than anyone in Moscow could have imagined. Apparently, this is what the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov had in mind when he announced the increase of staff members in the Russian section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia. Taking into consideration the ‘army’ of Georgian job seekers, the ‘news’ announced by the Russian diplomat seems quite reliable: “The number of visa applications has increased by 30%, therefore we wish to receive support from our Swiss colleagues in increasing the staff of our consulate by a few positions.”

In light of this announcement, the results of the survey conducted by the NDI and published after Lavrov’s speech gain a rather original meaning. To the question about which country carries the biggest threat to Georgia, 47% of those interviewed answered Russia, while only 8% responded the Islamic State and other countries. We are dealing with a really interesting phenomenon as the citizens of a country which considers Russia its main enemy at the same time considers it to be its main employer. Member of non-parliamentary party ‘Democratic Georgia,’ Petre Mamradze, believes that the desire of ordinary citizens to go to Russia is not accidental. “This is crucial for the existence of Georgia. Today, up to a million Georgian citizens sending money to Georgia live in Russia. They are supporting their families and relatives with the money made in Russia. Therefore, many Georgian citizens want to go to Russia and find a job there. Apart from this, the historical factor has to be taken into consideration, too,” says Mamradze. Official Russian data suggests that about 160 thousand Georgian citizens are living in Russia today, not the million Mamradze suggested. However, this does not change the existing reality.

This fact could have been explained by the general peculiarity of social surveys, but considering the recent events taking place in Georgia, it still remains a mystery. Some time ago, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the informal leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, announced that, “All in all, Russia cannot put South Ossetia and Abkhazia on its shoulders and take it away, can it?” And the fact that the shareholder of Gazprom is repeating this famous Georgian narrative is the most interesting part about the announcement. Shouldn’t a political leader carry more responsibility than ordinary citizens? Member of the ‘Expert’s Club,’ Vakhtang Maisaia also sees evidence of Georgian Dream supporting pro-Russian sentiments. He is confident that, despite the official western propaganda, governmental actions are still against it. “78% of the population supported NATO integration in 2008. Today, only 52% do. It is because of this government that the electorate has moved to the camp of pro-Russians,” says Maisaia.

Of course Russia cannot carry our territories “on its shoulders” and take it somewhere. But it doesn’t need to do this and most importantly it doesn’t plan on doing so. The Kremlin already did what it wanted by sending military forces to these territories; it doesn’t want to do more than that. Another achievement of the Kremlin is added to all of this: Russia conducts direct negotiations with Official Tbilisi and not in the presence of the international community. Apparently, it was no accident when the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Russia told Giorgi Karasin, “We do not need intermediaries with Georgia.” After this, it should come as no surprise that the population perceives Russia both as its enemy and its savior. In general, naivety in politics is described by another word which has something with do with stupidity. If we continue the same course of the foreign policy that we have been following over the last 20 years, the “Bilateral meetings with Karasin” won’t bring anything other than damage.

Zaza Jgarkava

14 April 2016 19:50