Experts comments CACDS - Southern Caucasus

Georgy Mchedlishvili: “Today's Russia cannot be a companion in principle. Or about Georgia in global processes »

CIAKR-South Caucasus presents an interview with Professor of the Black Sea University Georgi Mchedlishvili (Tbilisi).

At a recent global conference in India Raisina 2020, where 18 foreign ministers were present, it could be noticed that neither we - Georgia, nor our great eternal neighbor - the occupier, are not visible or almost not visible in this international view ... We are, as if, embedded in our paradigm ...

For the past 30 years, we have been forced, as now, to withstand Russia's aggression against Georgia, which has poured into various forms. Moscow is opposed to the movement and aspirations of Georgia to the West, and this has not been removed from the Kremlin's agenda. Russia is critically present in the life of Georgia, 20% of Georgian territories are occupied today, which is a huge problem.

And yet, despite all this, despite many problems of this period, there has been a significant "westernisation" of Georgia, its rapprochement with the US, the EU, European "visa-free", economic contacts, free trade and much more. For us, pursuing the West is not just an adherence to our cultural and genetic code, as ancient Europeans and an inseparable part of world Christianity, but also an attempt to escape from Russia. That is, for us it is a double purpose: and to return to the historic house, plus we simply have no other choice. If we do not get there, then we will be sad. And this is not necessarily a full occupation, integration into Russia, it can be a guarantee of political underdevelopment. There just won't be a Georgia that can take place. And we have the potential to become a normal state.

Of course, in order to normalize our statehood and further its development, we must look to the outside world. Until recently, our review / coverage, roughly speaking, ended in Sighnaghi or Baku. We did not perceive, for example, even Central Asia, despite the fact that these are former Soviet republics. We have gone different ways with them, and today we are a little ahead of them, in terms of the development of free speech, democratic institutions. At the same time, we are far from Western European countries. We are somewhere in the interval ... And in this race not many runners. Today it is Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia that are trying to become pro-Western.

The rest are watching how we try to run ...

Due to the fact that Russia has such an aggressive presence in different regions, we are very limited in opportunities. Although with some countries, such as China, we have managed to develop certain relationships, free trade agreements and so on. We have a number of embassies in Latin America and Asia, as well as an embassy in Australia, thanks to which, except for Nauru, no one recognized Abkhazia's independence. That is, until recently our main mission in Australia was to achieve the non-recognition of our separatist regions by a number of dwarf states in the Pacific, as the number of these state units is important to the UN. And the Russian Federation tried to achieve this by bribing these oceanic states, such as Nauru, but, fortunately, at other points we maintained our positions. That is, everything is again sharpened in Russia ...

Why it is possible to welcome the active position of China today - as this is, among other things, a certain balance against the strong Russian presence. If trade with China increases, Georgia will become more independent of economic pressure from Russia. These are the capital truths.

For example, if Georgia expands its trade with China, then Georgian wine will be sold in the Chinese market and much more successfully than in Russia. Unfortunately, this has not happened and 60% of Georgian wine in our country still goes to Russia…

One moment - wine we have only the seventh export position ... This is, rather, our mental, brand position. And in India, we just recently learned about us, thanks to Georgian wine ... One can ask the following question: what can be important for Europe? Perhaps it is precisely the building of our relations with Asia? Central Asia is a key region for us, it is our neighbors in the region. Azerbaijan and Armenia are, of course, Central Asia as well. there goes the Silk Road to China. And secondly, we are already seriously talking about the Indian Silk Road, which will pass through Central Asia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan ... It is important to fight here, so that this path also goes through our territory. And, of course, modern seaports are important here: it is important to work with Kazakhstan and their port of Aktau, it is very important to work with Azerbaijan (they have a beautiful port of Alat) and it is very important that we have an Anakliya port. These are the three A's. If we have this bundle, then we will be very important for Europe ...

Even if 1% of these transportation passes through our territory, it will be a huge advantage for us. It is clear that it is important for the South Caucasus that all three states be united in a single policy, although, of course, this is hindered by the Karabakh conflict. For Europe, such stability is important, especially since we are very close to the Middle East, when in peacetime this economic potential could also be harnessed.

For example, in 2015, I believed that signing a treaty on Iran's 5 + 1 nuclear program, which ensured that Iran would not enrich uranium above the permitted level, could bring good dividends. And IAEA monitoring was very intense. But, unfortunately, Iran has begun to use the situation to ignite conflicts in neighboring countries.

Iran as the conquistadors of the East ...

Yes, Shiite crusaders. Therefore, Iran has not been able to use its potential to a degree, as Russia did not do at the time, which had a great deal of economic and political support from the West in the early 1990s. To become a normal state, not to turn into a kind of oligarchy that has turned into a Putin model.

Here are the mistakes of B. Clinton, who did not pay much attention to US foreign policy ...

… And he patted Yeltsin's shoulder. But, first of all, it is the responsibility of the state itself, which has the desire to achieve higher goals. But, unfortunately, it so happened that the aggressive hawks won. And Iran, which has great cultural ties with our region, has become not a developed country, but a conflicting state. In doing so, Iran has excluded itself as an international actor in these relations, and the Middle East, with its ongoing conflicts, largely limits our ability to do so. Although there is Central Asia, there is China, there is India.

Two major US and Chinese centers of major importance for our development in the future may also be joined by India. It has the chance to become a major international player, thanks to its growing economic and human potential, plus a political regime - with certain conventions - but democratic.

I would also add the technological potential of Bangalore here. Surprisingly, despite the large number of very rich people and the huge number of practically beggars, the technologies there are developed to a very high level. Google is headed by an Indian today…

India's potential, like China's, is enormous. Over the past three years, their economic growth has totaled about 30%. In the case of China, it is more than a trillion dollars. Even if 1% of their projects will come to Georgia in the future, it is a huge financial opportunity and assistance for us.

If we look at the GDP dynamics of the Pacific countries, they are catching up with Europe and the US as a whole, and at this rate of growth they will soon outpace the West. Today, the growth of India's economy is 7-8%, with such growth in the economy and population, this is very serious.

India still has problems with the clans of society. If China goes all over the country, under the leadership of the Communist Party, to the victory of capitalism, then India has a somewhat different situation, although both countries do not represent a mono-state model.

China has huge development potential. In the Forbes list by number of millionaires, he is already catching up with the United States. But will there be an economic confrontation between the US and China in the future, as in 2018?

It will be obligatory…

While all this has reduced President Trump to a fighting draw, it would not be desirable for Georgia to have to choose between the two poles again. I don't think that will come to this…

Already have to choose…

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned (regarding the port of Anaclius) that he was following the interests of the US and Europe, not Russia and China, it was clear that he mentioned Russia, given the sentiment in Georgia, and China as the main destination for the US. We need to understand that the Russian Federation is just under 2% of the world gross national product and less than 2% of the population, and hydrocarbons are the main product of its export. It should also take into account brain drain and other problems in the post-Soviet space. If Russia were a normal European country, then it would be much easier for us to move with it to the West. But today's Russia is not a travel companion.

Georgia alone cannot hardly be of interest on a global scale, but the region of the South Caucasus as a whole is certainly not. If all three countries are together, this is an ideal option. If you look at the map: from the south of us the blazing Middle East, from the north - Russia, and there remains a narrow neck connecting us with Central Asia and China, and in the opposite direction - through Turkey or the Black Sea with the West. The fight between the US and China will continue. How can we do so in order to remain a subject in this confrontation?

It is necessary to develop internally, to try to weaken the influence as much as possible and to position ourselves away from Russia, as soon as possible to complete the construction of the port of Anakliya, there are a number of other energy projects…

I would also add an upgrade of the railway, both Georgian and Azerbaijani, which are not in very good condition today. Iran is an important point for the world community, and the various conflicts in the region, their timetable, interfere with the solution of specific problems, including communication, and make us look for other solutions out of them, which may, in a sense, be at our fingertips ...

Despite expectations after the 2008-2009 crisis, there is an economic growth in the region of Southeast Asia, including countries such as Bangladesh. And geographically - closer to China than Georgia than to Germany. In the Middle East, however, there is once a tendency to normalize the situation. There is and is increasing with population in many countries and the need for drinking water than Georgia could provide for a number of countries. We have very considerable untapped potential in a number of areas.

Over the last year or two, Georgia's trade and exports have grown, with the deficit narrowing slightly. But Georgia's positioning as a stable, developing, trying to modernize, moving in this direction has been stagnant over the past two years. Even in areas such as press freedom, pluralism.

The pre-election regime, which takes place in other countries normally and calmly, is still accompanied by similar failures in various spheres of life ...

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