What is behind the protests in Tbilisi?
The crisis in Georgia is a crisis of the political system
I think it stems from the way the political system in Georgia is structured. It seems to me that the current government of Georgia is trying to establish its power monopoly in the country. Attempts are being made to curtail the opposition.
I have not deeply studied what they have with the economy, but it seems to me that a similar thing can happen in the economic environment — that is, an attempt to concentrate all more or less significant economic flows in the hands of the authorities. I don’t think that they are aiming to stop integration into Europe, it is not an end in itself. The suspension of integration processes is a consequence of this strategy for political and economic monopoly.
Is there a Moscow factor in the attempt to adopt a “law on foreign agents”?
I do not think that the attempt to adopt a “law on foreign agents” is an echo of the rapprochement between the positions of Tbilisi and Moscow. I think that the Georgian authorities are guided, first of all, by their own interests, which I mentioned above. As for rapprochement with Moscow, it has not yet acquired political contours. Yes, there is Georgia’s refusal to participate in the sanctions policy and there is an increase in trade between Georgia and Russia.
That is, there is an obvious economic vector in this rapprochement. But it is difficult to say whether this rapprochement has any political prospects. In fact, Tbilisi is taking advantage of the current situation around Russia in order to receive economic dividends.
This is confirmed by the significant growth of Georgia’s GDP. I think the thaw between Moscow and Tbilisi is connected with attempts to solve their own problems, plus with the unwillingness to be involved in all sorts of upheavals that could arise with a different position from Tbilisi.
Abkhazia and political crisis in Georgia.
About the “second front”
Where there is an unresolved conflict and claims from one side to the other, there is always the danger of a resumption of hostilities. But if there is an economic rapprochement between Russia and Georgia, this, of course, reduces such a threat.
Georgian Dream has entered a period of deep crisis. And, it seems to me, in Georgia a change of power could have occurred if the opponents of GD had some kind of single political center, a common political platform.
In this case they would have gone further, would not have limited themselves to the abolition of the law on foreign agents. The situation was in favor of the protesters, it favored them. But the same situation showed that the main ideological opponent of Georgian Dream, represented by the United National Movement, does not enjoy wide support from the masses.
And this society is not ready to change the Georgian Dream for the UNM. Therefore, it seems to me that in the near future the process of forming a third force will begin in Georgia. It is possible that some factions from Georgian Dream will partly participate in this process.
I think that Georgia is entering a process of active internal political construction. And what ideology will be the most popular, it is difficult to judge.
As for the shouting [at a rally in Tbilisi, one of the speakers began to turn on the protesters by shouting “Sukhumi! Sukhumi! In Abkhazia, this was perceived as a call for a military solution to the Abkhaz problem], I don’t see anything particularly new here.
At all rallies someone will shout something. Moreover, the Abkhaz theme has been in the propaganda for many years. So I do not attach any importance to such cries. I do not think that there is such a threat in the near future, although we must always take into account that the situation is changing.
We are a society that has been living for many years in a state of threats, and it should not be news to us that we must be ready to repel, to stop these threats. There are military means, diplomatic means, and by the way, there are also economic means.
We must use all the tools that will make the option of resuming hostilities less likely. This is our routine, we have been living in it for 30 years.
On the proposal of the authorities of Abkhazia to make Minsk a platform for Georgian-Abkhazian negotiations
I doubt that Georgia will change the existing format of the Geneva discussions. It also didn’t happen by accident. Any mediation formats are formed based on the geopolitical alignment, on the interests of large external actors, which in one way or another can influence the conflicting parties in order to promote one or another settlement model. Thus our first negotiation format was formed. By the way, the current format is not negotiation, let’s rather call it “expert discussion”. It proceeds from who the parties would like to see as mediators, how these participants can influence one or another side, the situation in the region. So such unilateral statements can’t be thought of as more than wishful thinking.
Transit of goods as a way to stabilize the situation
How can it be interesting not only for the conflicting parties, but also for other external actors, such as Russia, Turkey, the European Union, and various international organizations? Transit could be used as a stabilization factor in the region. If we consider transit in this context, there are not only sanctioned goods, there are also completely legal goods, trade continues. Even despite the hostilities, Russia transits energy carriers through the territory of Ukraine, and Ukraine, in turn, receives money for this. So it cannot be said that there is a complete freeze of trade and economic relations. This hasn’t happened yet. Here’s something to look for in this dilemma.
We see that the process also continues in the Armenian-Azerbaijani direction. Despite the very complicated history of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey, a logistic model is being formed there which will be beneficial to various players in the future. Armenia, finding itself in a difficult situation, is looking for its place in the new world order. Abkhazia should do the same. Otherwise we will not be considered in major upheavals. And we must proceed from the fact that the range of opportunities for Abkhazia is not very wide. We can’t be inactive.
In the first post-war years, which were very difficult for the republic, Abkhazia was very active. I think that sooner or later we will again become more active, because the South Caucasus is clearly ceasing to be a dead end. After all these upheavals, it will no longer be clogged, it will perform a connecting function, the function of a corridor between front Asia and Europe, and maybe even further. The main thing here is that [we] should not be blown away by a draft, [we must] think about how Abkhazia will participate in this.