What will Georgians choose: their past embodied by Abkhazia or a European future? Opinion from Abkhazia

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Abkhazia-Georgia and “foreign agents” bill

Despite massive public resistance, the Georgian Parliament managed to push through the adoption of the “foreign agents” bill. While there remains a chance for a presidential veto, the ruling party, Georgian Dream, seems determined enough to overcome this hurdle.

This law is widely seen as Russian-inspired. The paradox lies in the fact that it was adopted by a country that has steadfastly pursued a pro-Western path throughout its years of independence.

In Abkhazia, which Georgia considers occupied by Russia, there is still no “foreign agents” law, despite Kremlin’s persistent recommendation over the past decade. While the Abkhaz government has promised Moscow to adopt it, there seems to be little enthusiasm to fulfill this commitment, especially considering the negative sentiment among the society.

In Georgia, society also reacted strongly against the idea of the “foreign agents” bill, but it was still adopted, and very swiftly. Unlike the Abkhaz authorities, who have been deliberating over the draft law for ten years, Georgian Dream didn’t drag its feet. This raises some interesting considerations.

While in the Abkhaz case, the Kremlin essentially dictates the adoption of the “foreign agents” bill, in Georgia’s case, it was more of a tempting offer based on mutual benefit.

In my subjective view, for the Georgian government to push through this law despite public resistance, contrary to the demands and threats from friends like the European Union and the United States, there had to be a special motive.

And that motive is Abkhazia, the main irreparable loss for the majority of Georgians.

The Kremlin could have promised to facilitate the reunification of Abkhazia and Georgia. Naturally, not in the same form as during Soviet times, when Abkhazia, with its autonomous status, was fully under Tbilisi’s control, but perhaps in the form of a confederation.

This would benefit Moscow, as it would permanently bind Georgia to itself with the lure of Abkhazia.

For official Tbilisi at this moment, it also seems advantageous, as Georgians would gain something they have been reminiscing about with tears in their eyes.

Of course, the Abkhaz would vehemently oppose this, but apparently, Moscow believes it can persuade them.

The founder of the Georgian Dream, oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, is undoubtedly a shrewd businessman who understands the value of any commodity. However, there’s one nuance he seems to overlook in this situation.

No matter how you look at it, Abkhazia, in the Georgian perception, is already the past, almost a myth. It’s a sort of nostalgic image. It’s like old folks reminiscing about their glorious youth, which has nothing to do with the present.

Georgian Abkhazia remains in the past, irretrievable, distant, Soviet past. But today’s Abkhazia is a completely different substance, not the one Georgians dream about now.

And if the “confederative deal” between Moscow and Tbilisi does happen, Georgian society, after touching this “substance,” will inevitably feel deceived. They will realize that they were sold the past, taking away their European future in return.

To me, the Georgian “foreign agents” bill is a kind of maturity test. When you have to choose one thing: either nostalgic past or life-affirming future.

Georgians now have a ticket to Europe without luggage. If you want to fly, you’ll have to leave behind the baggage of Abkhazia, no matter how dear it is to you.

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