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The Unfinished “European Dream” of Georgia

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In 2008, at the Bucharest Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), member states agreed that Ukraine and Georgia would become future members of the alliance. NATO’s eastward expansion has subsequently led Russia to increase its pressure on neighboring states. In February 2022, Russia launched a new operation targeting Ukraine’s capital Kiev, following its attacks on Georgia’s separatist South Ossetia region in 2008 and Crimea in 2014.

Also during this period, Russia asked NATO to cancel the membership commitments made to Ukraine and Georgia in 2008 and to promise not to deploy weapons on the Russian border. [1] Russia sees Georgia’s NATO membership as a move to take control of critical energy infrastructure in the Caspian and Black Sea regions In simplest terms, Georgia is Russia’s gateway to the south. Therefore, Moscow opposes Tbilisi’s formal integration into the Western camp.

Seeking to encircle Russia from the south, the United States of America (USA), the European Union (EU) and NATO are trying to be effective in the strategically important South and North Caucasus. The possible NATO membership of Ukraine and Georgia, and Russia’s attacks on these countries in response, have been clear indicators that the Black Sea has turned into a new playground and crisis geography. These memberships have the potential to turn the Black Sea into a crisis zone on a range of issues, particularly in the areas of food and energy. Despite these dangers, countries such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova continue to rely on NATO and EU institutions.

The countries of the North and South Caucasus support the EU’s efforts to promote peace and stability in the region.[2] Likewise, the EU continues to deepen its partnership with the countries of the North and South Caucasus within the framework of the Eastern Partnership Program. In this context, Brussels sees Georgia as the leader of the Eastern Partnership Program in the South Caucasus. In return, Tbilisi continues to integrate with the EU in all areas and seeks Western support to protect its national borders. However, the EU has not yet been able to ensure Georgia’s territorial integrity. Instead, the EU, which harshly criticizes Moscow and imposes economic sanctions, is failing to ensure security in the region.

Georgia continues to make efforts to ensure compliance with European standards in legal and political terms. Thanks to the EU’s support to date, Georgia has gained significant opportunities both politically and economically. The reforms implemented within the framework of the Eastern Partnership Program show that Georgia is moving decisively towards Europeanization.

NATO also occupies an important place in Georgia’s European dream. However, in the face of the country’s de facto occupation by Russia in 2008, NATO countries couldn’t find a formula to provide direct military support to Georgia, ultimately leaving Tbilisi feeling abandoned. In 2022, the war in Ukraine and the fact that Kiev was left alone this time revived Russian anger in Georgia. A scenario similar to the one in 2008, when Russian forces entered Tbilisi, could have been reenacted in Kiev in 2022. Because of these fears, ‘anti-Russia’ has become a fundamental national consciousness in the societies of Georgia and Ukraine.

Although the EU and NATO support Georgia and Ukraine, they do not ignore the Russian factor in the region. Failing to receive the necessary support from both the EU and NATO, countries such as Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova feel that they are alone against Russia and are gradually losing faith in the West. If Russia gets the results it expects from Ukraine and is able to repair the economic damage, it may turn its attention to the North Caucasus once again. The failure of the West to show the necessary reaction to Russia so far raises the possibility of such a scenario happening

As a result, Western powers, which are trying to hit Russia in different areas, may favor the continuation of the crisis in the Black Sea. Therefore, Georgia’s interaction with the West will only escalate regional tensions and make Tbilisi a target for Moscow once again. To prevent this, the Georgian Dream Party, which is in power in Georgia, announced that it would initiate impeachment proceedings against President Salome Zurabishvili for her visits to the European Union (EU) against the will of the government.[3] This situation can be seen as an indicator that Georgia will continue to balance between Europe and Russia.


[1] “Rusya: NATO Ukrayna ve Gürcistan’a Verdiği Üyelik Taahhüdünü Geri Çekmeli”, Euro News, https://tr.euronews.com/2021/12/10/rusya-nato-ukrayna-ve-gurcistan-a-verdigi-uyelik-taahhudunu-geri-cekmeli, (Erişim Tarihi: 02.09.2023).

[2] “Украина, Грузия и Молдавия призвали ЕС признать их европейскую перспективу”, Ria, https://ria.ru/20211216/perspektiva-1763962743.html, (Erişim Tarihi: 02.09.2023).

[3] “Gürcistan’da İktidar, AB Yanlısı Cumhurbaşkanı Hakkında Görevden Alma Süreci Başlattı”, Euro News, https://tr.euronews.com/2023/09/01/gurcistanda-iktidar-ab-yanlisi-cumhurbaskani-hakkinda-gorevden-alma-sureci-baslatti, (Erişim Tarihi: 02.09.2023).

Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk Tamer graduated from Sakarya University, Department of International Relations in 2014. In the same year, he started his master's degree at Gazi University, Department of Middle Eastern and African Studies. In 2016, Tamer completed his master's degree with his thesis titled "Iran's Iraq Policy after 1990", started working as a Research Assistant at ANKASAM in 2017 and was accepted to Gazi University International Relations PhD Program in the same year. Tamer, whose areas of specialization are Iran, Sects, Sufism, Mahdism, Identity Politics and Asia-Pacific and who speaks English fluently, completed his PhD education at Gazi University in 2022 with his thesis titled "Identity Construction Process and Mahdism in the Islamic Republic of Iran within the Framework of Social Constructionism Theory and Securitization Approach". He is currently working as an Asia-Pacific Specialist at ANKASAM.