Russia's issue has become a very popular and important factor in election campaigns of various countries. Suffice it to say that Vladimir Putin’s name is heard during the ongoing election campaign in U.S. as frequently as the names of the presidential candidates are. If this is happening in U.S., “the Bastion of Democracy,” can you imagine what is happening in Georgia?
For instance, the United National Movement (UNM) Party calls its rivals pro-Russian forces and Putin’s agents. The funniest thing about this is that there are almost no pro-Russian parties in Georgia. Any force that is not Russophobe is labeled as pro-Russian there.
The centrists are the only pro-Russian party in Georgia, and they have openly told about that in their campaign advertising. In an interview with Ukrainian mass media, the UNM experts called the leaders of the Centrist Party Temur Khachishvili and Vladimir Bedukadze as criminals, since the first headed security agency under Eduard Shevardnadze and the second made public shocking video tortures at Georgia’s Gldansk prison. Such a strange assessment criteria!
All the other politicians who have not fallen into the anti-Russian paranoia just suggested to normalize the relations with Russia.
Most of those parties did not overcome the 5% threshold to the parliament. It was evident from the very beginning. Neither MP Tamaz Mechiauri nor journalist Valery Kvaratskhelia were political heavyweights, with all due respect to their civic stance. In this light, Nino Burjanadze’s Party showed quite good a result in Adjara, but failed to overcome the 5% threshold to the parliament, receiving 3.53% of total votes.
Nino Burjanadze is a well-known politician. She was once speaker of the parliament and acting president. Breaking ties with the United National Movement, she has turned into an uncompromising fighter against that political force. Despite this, she failed to push her party into the parliament.
Why has such experienced and eminent politician failed?
Perhaps, the reason is the growing non-confidence of voters into the politicians who have been in the forefront for a long time and failed to fulfill their promises. More and more voters think that the calls for normalization of relations with Russia may be a political trick to catch their votes. Meantime, voters have got used that most of such promises usually remain unfulfilled.
Evidently, this was one of the factors that predetermined the failure of the party of industrialists. This explains why one of the founders and leaders of the Industry Will Save Georgia Party Zurab Tkemaladze left his post.
It is evident that voters prefer real steps to declarations and good intentions. It is of paramount importance for the political leadership of Georgia to understand that the country needs a more responsible social domestic policy and a balanced multi-vector foreign one not to let Big Powers to turn the country into a pawn on the global chessboard.
How will change the foreign policy of the Georgian authorities now, after the Georgian Dream Party swept the elections and received a majority in the parliament?
Yet four years ago launching fight with the United National Movement that was on the height of its power, the Georgian Dream promised its voters to normalize the relations with Russia, since it was the open demand of most voters. To that end, it took some measures, but did not manage to make any breakthroughs.
After a series of fraud and election rigging, UNM received 40% of seats on the parliament, which helped Mikheil Saakashvili retain his power for another year. Georgia faced a paradox – the president of the country was the leader of the party that lost the elections.
Using these factors, the UNM managed to kill many bills submitted by the Georgian Dream to the parliament and kept creating obstacles to the rival party.
Immediately after the first round, acting prime minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili made an important statement saying Georgian Dream’s policy towards Russia was right.
“Georgia will continue the last four years’ policy to ease tension in the relations with Russia. We will continue searching ways to normalize the relations with Russia, buy everyone must understand that this will not happen at the expense of Georgia’s territorial integrity,” the acting president said then.
It is clear that the territorial integrity is of prior importance for any government of Georgia. It is important to comprehend that the territorial integrity of Georgia’s does not depend on Moscow’s will. Only Georgians, Abkhazians and Ossetians can settle this issue through peace talks. Definitely, Moscow will support any peaceful initiative.
Instead, something does generate doubts i.e. the contradictory actions of the Georgian leadership. Advocating for better relation with Russia, Georgia welcomes NATO’s military buildup in the Black Sea saying this will upgrade the security of the region. Unfortunately, the effect of that security became evident in Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine. Hopefully, this list will not expand any more.
In 2017, Georgia will be hosting the South Eastern Europe Defense Ministerial (SEDM). For the first time, the country will come out as a full participant, unlike the ministerial held in Batumi in 2013.
As Russophobia is being stirred-up globally, Georgian Dream will have to try hard to meet the requirements of the multi-vector policy, which is vital for the country.
Irakli Chkheidze for EADaily