Civic IDEA’s Statement Regarding Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze’s Foreign Policy Messages Aired on February 23rd

The dangerous illusion of the Georgian Dream’s “multi-vectoral” foreign policy

Facts Only:

  • The US-Georgian strategic partnership is strengthened by the Strategic Partnership Charter.
  • We have only a joint statement regarding the Sino-Georgia strategic partnership, which represents neither agreement nor binds the PRC in any way toward Georgia.
  • The preservation of Georgia’s territorial integrity and its non-recognition policy heavily relies on foreign policy backing from the US and the EU.
  • In contrast, the PRC has consistently withheld support for the crucial UN resolutions concerning the occupation of Georgian territories.
  • Georgia’s Defense and Security Sector and its national system for deterring Russian aggression predominantly and almost entirely depend on the United States’ political, financial, and professional support.
  • Despite the ongoing aggression in Ukraine, China remains a strategic partner of Russia, thereby effectively endorsing the aggressor’s occupation policies.
  • Following Russia’s aggression in 2008, the United States played a pivotal role as the primary advocate, donor, and lobbyist in rallying support. This support helped rescue the country from the humanitarian, economic, and financial crises resulting from the war, thereby ensuring its stability.
  • Following the Russian aggression in 2008, when the resolution on the Status of IDPs and refugees from Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia was adopted in 2009, the PRC abstained from voting. Disappointingly, in 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the country voted against the resolution along with Russia.
  • Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when small economies faced particular peril, American assistance programs remained steadfast without interruption, while China’s already modest investment package declined, falling below zero.

We believe the Prime Minister’s statement overlooks Georgia’s security and foreign policy priorities in favor of internal political party interests, driven by foreign policy populism and a failure to acknowledge the evident disparity in support for Georgia’s national interests between the United States and China.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on the backdrop of the erosion of European security architecture, the Georgian government chose a policy of strategic ambiguity. On one side, it expresses a desire to join Western institutions under pressure exerted by citizens, while on the other, it enhances trade and economic ties with Russia while pursuing a strategic partnership with China.

Abstract clichés of international relations cannot be used as a legitimizer of the mentioned foreign policy behavior. Mr. Kobakhidze’s statement that he seeks “to [equally] deepen the strategic partnership both with the United States of America and China.”, in the best case, is a naive wish to paint the desired as reality and in the worst case, evil populism sold to the Georgian population. In the Great Power Competition era, the possibility of equally deepening relations with the US and China is decreasing for any actor, specifically for a relatively smaller country.

The possibility of balancing Russia’s interests in Georgia through China’s influence is even more absurd. Even before the war in Ukraine, China-Russia interaction was based on a cooperation-competition-reciprocity formula, and since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, these two countries have been acting in coordination towards a final revision of the global order, potentially resulting in the disappearance of countries akin to Georgia from the map.

In reality, the country’s sovereignty and security issues serve the Georgian Dream’s party agenda of maintaining power. Unlike Western democracies (which, while cooperating with various countries, are often limited in knowledge of the content of political system), the People’s Republic of China engages with any regime, particularly in countries of the Global South.

Hence, there is no mere chance that as domestic authoritarianism in Georgia has intensified, the Georgian Dream has seen closer ties with China as a vital foreign policy lifeline. This specific example once again proves that the government, left behind an unbalanced institutional control and accountability, represents a tremendous threat to the future of Georgia. In the presence of the Georgian Dream’s uncontrolled majority, there is a high probability that we are left with authoritarianism “legitimized” by the communist party, thereby solidifying both poverty and political elites.

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