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 Friday, April 8 2022 12:18
David Stepanyan

Forecast: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan can use the competition  between the West, China, Russia, Turkey and Iran in their favor only  if they act together

Forecast: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan can use the competition  between the West, China, Russia, Turkey and Iran in their favor only  if they act together

ArmInfo.  In an interview with ArmInfo, Professor of the Georgian Technical University, Doctor of International Relations, conflictologist Amiran Khevtsuriani comments on the latest geopolitical impulses around Georgia and Armenia in the  context of the war in Ukraine; shares his own vision of the future of  the South Caucasus, integration projects with the participation of  Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

- As far as it seems possible to judge from the statements of  Ukrainian top officials, the current developments in and around  Ukraine have already led to Kyiv's abandonment of its intentions to  join NATO. In your opinion, will this situation somehow correct  Georgia's NATO aspirations?

- The Ukrainian government, headed by President Zelenskyy, showed an  impeccable example of struggle and resilience in this situation,  which was a complete surprise for many of us. They completely control  the situation in the country, coordinate the actions of the Armed  Forces, and most importantly, they managed to fully consolidate the  Ukrainian nation and unite it against the enemy. Against this  background, the statements of the Ukrainian authorities, including  completely legitimate claims against their partners, cannot be  ignored, because today the fate of the civilized world is being  decided in Ukraine. As for abandoning NATO, I think it is wrong to  put the question in this way. Theoretically, this is possible, but  only with a conditional replacement for "NATO 2".

Otherwise, it's simply out of the question. That is, Ukraine should  accept a shield of guaranteed security, and not what was the result  of the Budapest Memorandum, in exchange for which Ukraine gave up its  nuclear potential. So there can be no question of a direct rejection  of NATO, such a decision cannot be made by the Ukrainian government  alone, because such issues are to be decided primarily by the  Ukrainian people - through a referendum. As for Georgia, our country  is an integral part of this process. Today, our fate is also being  decided in Ukraine. For its part, Georgia will never give up its  Euro-Atlantic choice.

- More than a month has passed since Georgia applied for EU  membership. As far as I know, there is still no concrete answer from  Brussels. Please,  share your assessment of Georgia's European  prospects. And has the situation around Ukraine changed these  prospects?

- You are right, more than a month has passed, but there is still no  positive response from Brussels, and this is really alarming. And the  Georgian government is directly responsible for this. It's one thing  to apply and another to take concrete action. Unfortunately, recently  more and more unpleasant statements are being made about our country  from the tribune of the European Union, which can jeopardize its  European future.

Of course, this process is directly related to the developments in  Ukraine, as well as to the tense relations that are becoming more and  more evident between the Georgian and Ukrainian authorities. It is  urgent to normalize these relations and return them to their former  course, because Georgia and Ukraine are historical friends, we have  one goal and one common enemy.  Today, more than 2,000 Georgian  volunteers are fighting for Ukraine, and this is logical. I remain  optimistic and I think that Georgia will definitely become a member  of the European family together with Ukraine. I am sure that the same  will happen in the case of Armenia as well.

- What role does Bidzina Ivanishvili continue to play in Georgian  politics in general, and in Georgia's refusal to join the sanctions  against Russia in particular?

- It is difficult for me to answer this question, because Ivanishvili  has been out of sight for a year now. He left the post of chairman of  the ruling party and announced that he was leaving politics and would  never return. And of course, I don't know what's going on behind the  scenes.  However, there are, of course, doubts that he is still the  main decision maker in the country. As for the issue of not joining  the sanctions, I think that this wording is somewhat exaggerated,  because we are automatically involved in the policy of sanctions,  since we are affiliated with international financial institutions and  live by their agenda.

I think that this topic has been over-dramatized, which was partly  due to the statements of some representatives of our government. What  is the point of systematic repetition of not joining the sanctions,  when it irritates your strategic partner, Ukraine, a lot? And as it  turned out, not only the atter. Especially when you are literally  part of these sanctions. In such cases, it is necessary to be a  little more diplomatic and restrained.

-  In recent months, discussions about the possibility of joining an  alliance with Russia and Belarus have intensified in Armenia,  especially in the context of the situation in Ukraine. As far as I  know, Moscow continues to view the South Caucasus as a single zone of  its own influence.  Have any proposals been voiced in this context in  Georgia as well, and how does the Georgian society feel about such a  prospect?

- As a friend of your country and people, I will never want such a  perspective for your country.  This step will be an act of  self-liquidation of the Armenian state, which will subsequently  affect Georgia as well. I consider it completely unacceptable to even  talk about joining in this union, especially in the current  conditions. This is an alliance that has committed a real genocide  against the "brotherly" Ukrainian people. Today, the entire civilized  world has united against these two countries, and in such a  situation, what relation can Armenia have to them?

As for the second part of the question, this topic is not even at the  level of discussion in the Georgian society, it is taboo. We will  never return to the Russian past, because we know very well what it  is. However, this does not mean that there are no pro-Russian forces  in Georgia.  They exist, but their impact on society is negligible.

- The success of the model of economic development of all three  countries of the South Caucasus within the framework of a single  integration project seems to be axiomatic. In your opinion, what has  hindered the last 30 years and continues to hinder the achievement of  such an understanding in our countries today?

- During the last thirty years, no other region of the post-Soviet  space has had such serious fluctuations as the countries of the South  Caucasus. It is the presence of three frozen conflicts that has given  us the status of a tense and unstable region. Such a prospect, along  with the destructive role of Russia, was fueled by the fact that in  the conditions of the important geopolitical processes taking place  around the region, all three countries of the region pursued  completely different and inconsistent foreign policy courses.

Consequently, the chances of creating a unified regional security  system were also zero. It is this reality that needs to be changed,  and it is possible only with our reasonable actions. We have never  been concerned about our common regional image, we have never  presented ourselves as a united force in the international arena, we  have never had common regional projects, moreover also a normal  threesome neighborly dialogue. Once this mutual estrangement is over,  and external players  see even a drop of wisdom in us, they will look  at us and talk to us in a completely different way.

- For the last several hundred years, the South Caucasus has remained  an arena of competition and struggle for influence for the Russia,  Turkey and Iran. Can we state that today the situation in our  countries continues to be determined by this historical fact? Or, in  the current realities, another player has wedged into the Caucasian  geopolitics - the West?

- Everything changes with time, and this is an axiom. Time has also  changed the world, which, thanks to modern technology, has somehow "  shrunk ". Therefore, it is clear that such a geopolitically important  region as the South Caucasus could not remain the sphere of interests  of only the three former empires listed above. Therefore, new  powerful non-regional players have emerged, such as the collective  West and China. . Of course it's good for us, and if we behave wisely  and rationally, we can use this competition to our advantage. As I  said above, for this, first of all, it is necessary that all three of  us (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) once and for all resolve the  problems between ourselves and act as a single force in relations  with external players. 

I assure you, it is quite possible. If our generation does not  succeed, believe me, the next generation will surely do it, because  our unity has no alternative. It will be very disappointing if we  fail to do it and miss a historic opportunity.

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