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"Georgia's Foreign Policy Impasse  Is Consensus Crumbling?"

George Khelashvili,Tbilisi State University

PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo No. 187

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Abstract

A broad, pro-Western consensus over foreign policy goals has existed in Georgia since the late 1990s, but it is not certain whether this will be sustained in the future. The consensus was based on a few widely shared assumptions, including Georgia's geostrategic importance in the post-Soviet region, the indispensability of the so-called pro-Western course, and an irreconcilably dualistic nature of world politics played out as a geopolitical great game between Russia and the West.

The aftermath of the war of August 2008 put these assumptions under serious question. Georgia, a self-perceived regional pivot, came under direct Russian military attack, but neither the United States nor Western European states bothered to strain their relations with Russia, let alone come to Georgia's military aid. Western states have not been effective in ensuring the "de-occupation" of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Georgia still deems to be inalienable part of its territory. Quite the opposite, the United States engaged Russia in an apparently positive-sum game of "reset." All Georgia received from this post-war international situation was U.S. and European financial aid, which felt more like "guilt money" than a serious postwar reconstruction aid package. Georgia did not receive strategic backing from the West except for qualified sympathy and occasional rhetorical support.