What Will the New Dialogue Format with Russia Bring for Georgia?
By Giorgi Bilanishvili, Research Fellow at Rondeli Foundation
In recent years, Georgian officials have expressed the idea of creating a new dialogue format with Russia on numerous occasions. According to their assessment, this should facilitate the resolution of the complicated problems existing between the two countries; first and foremost, those connected with the occupied territories. The former Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, was the first to speak about this publicly back in December 2017. More specifically, he expressed his readiness to get personally involved in the Geneva International Discussions which, in principle, would have amounted to the formation of a completely new format. Very recently, the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, commented on this topic, stating that creating a format similar to that of the Normandy Four would be advisable for Georgia.
The idea of forming a new dialogue format with Russia cannot be assessed exclusively negatively. In theory, it could bring positive results for Georgia.
At the same time, it must also be pointed out that the so-called constructive policy that has been exercised by the Georgian Dream towards the Russian Federation since the 2012 Parliamentary Elections has not met with an adequate response from Russia. To speak of nothing else, it was in recent years that the tragic cases of Giga Otkhozoria, Archil Tatunashvili and Davit Basharuli took place. In addition, those who murdered these people have “demonstratively” received no punishment to this day.
Apart from this, the illegal detaining of Georgian citizens takes place regularly, coupled with moving the occupation line deeper within the territory controlled by the Government of Georgia. Pressure on the Georgian population living in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region has been intensified and their rights are being severely restricted.
At the end of September 2019, the first meeting between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and Russia since 2008 was not followed by any kind of promising response from Russia. Moscow has almost unequivocally stated that it does not plan on discussing the issue of occupation in any format, yet expects the Georgian side to continue dialogue nonetheless.
Now, let us move our attention from a rather heavy Georgian reality to the experiences of other countries. Among these, we should first speak about Ukraine which has for years futilely tried to resolve its very complicated problems with Russia in the abovementioned Normandy format.
At the beginning of December 2019, after a three-year pause, another meeting of the Normandy Four ended without any results. The three-year pause preceding the meeting does not bode very well for the efficiency of the format either and the gravity of the situation was further underlined by the fact that the meeting took place in a rather charged atmosphere.
Despite the fact that it was during his presidency that the Minsk Memorandum and Protocol were signed, the former President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, is now opposed to the implementation of this agreement, even though its implementation is the main topic of discussion of the Normandy format.
It would seem that the current President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, is also at best cautious about the implementation of this agreement. The reason for this is quite simple. According to the assessment of experts, in case of the implementation of the Minsk Protocols, Ukraine will be under the serious risk of a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Apart from the fact that the Normandy format has failed to find a political mechanism for resolving the conflict, the situation on the frontline remains difficult as well. After the most recent meeting of the Normandy format was completed, four Ukrainian soldiers died and seven were wounded on the Donbas front in the week of December 9-15. According to the information of the Ukrainians, Russian hybrid forces kept firing every day within that week.
Therefore, from this standpoint, talking about the efficiency of the Normandy format for Ukraine would unfortunately be completely groundless.
If we move our attention from Ukraine to Belarus, we shall see how the Russian Federation uses bilateral formats with its immediate allies. Belarus is probably the closest ally and strategic partner for Russia from the post-Soviet states. According to the statement of the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, partnership between the two countries does not only cover trade and financial-economic issues but a “common space for defense and special force activities” is also created.
Despite all of this, from the beginning of 2019, expert assessments and unclassified reports of the intelligence services of various countries stated that Moscow would be increasing pressure on Minsk with the aim of integrating Belarus into Russian Federation.
The developments confirmed that these expectations were justified. It would seem that the pressure on Belarus was exercised during the whole year on the basis of the 1999 agreement between the presidents of two countries on creating an allied state. The pressure reached its peak at the end of the year.
Given this background, Belarus is clearly trying to protect its sovereignty. On December 7, 2019, the main topic of the meeting between the leaders of the Russian Federation and Belarus that took place in Sochi was to agree on the roadmap for the further integration of the two countries. The meeting did not turn out to be very fruitful. Before departing to Sochi, President Lukashenko stated that “they never even considered for Belarus to become part of any other country, including its brotherly Russia, and this is not expected to happen in the future either.”
Soon after the completion of this meeting on December 9, the Head of the General Staff for the Belarussian Armed Forces, Oleg Belkonev, stated that official Minsk is ready to conduct joint exercises with NATO. However, he also added that such exercises can only take place with the understanding that Belarus is a strategic partner of Russia. Despite the second part of the statement, the political meaning behind it is quite clear.
Belarus’s position became even clearer after December 24 when in his interview with Echo of Moscow, Lukashenko stated that the possible attempt of the violation of the sovereignty of Belarus by Moscow will cause Russia’s conflict with the West; more specifically, NATO.
As it would seem, the fear of the danger of annexation from Russia is quite well grounded. How justified it is to think that Belarus will manage to evade this danger by holding a bilateral or even a multilateral dialogue with Russia alone is also quite simple to answer. Especially, since it seems that the results of Belarus’s dialogue and partnership with Russia is on full display.
Unfortunately, neither the time nor the political context give us the ground for thinking that Georgia’s starting a new dialogue format with Russia will bring positive results.
If the Government of Georgia still decides to launch such a format, this cannot only be justified by the fact that there is no alternative to dialogue. It must be stated from the outset what results we are expecting from this dialogue and when they will come. In such a case, even though the probability of reaching something positive with Russia will not increase, at least the political responsibility of the government will become clear.
- War in Ukraine and Russia’s declining role in the Karabakh peace process
- The Russian Exclave of Kaliningrad and the Lithuanian "Sting"
- Seventh Package of Sanctions and Embargo on Russian Gold
- What could be the cost of “Putin’s face-saving” for European relations
- In line for the candidate status, Georgia will get a European perspective. What are we worried about?
- The break-up of the Hungarian-Polish coalition - an opportunity for the EU
- Failed Tskhinvali Referendum
- The War and Georgia
- "Autocratic Peace"
- “Rural Orbanism”- Polarization as a determinant for Hungary's political future
- Illegal Presidential Elections in the Tskhinvali Region: Why Bibilov Lost and What to Anticipate in Future
- How to Respond to Russian Ultra-Orthodox-Historic-Hegemonism?
- The War in Ukraine and the UK’s New Role in Eastern Europe
- What Will the Abolition of the OSCE Minsk Group Bring to the South Caucasus?
- The Presidential Election in France and Europe’s Political Future
- Will Pashinyan Be Able to Make a Drastic Turnaround in Armenian-Azerbaijani Relations?
- Why Has the Abkhaz Side Become More Active on Social Networks?
- Why a Neutral Ukraine Is Not on Putin’s Mind (Ukraine’s Neutral Status Is Getting Closer, but What Does It Mean to Putin?)
- Europe's energy future - challenges and opportunities
- Uncontrolled Mass Immigration and the Position of the Georgian Government
- Changes in Putin's propaganda narratives since the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Ukraine will soon embark on a path of practical integration into the European Union. What about Georgia?
- Positions and Actions of Turkey in the Russo-Ukrainian War
- NATO’s possible expansion in Northern Europe and its significance for Georgia and Ukraine
- Political Winter Olympics in Beijing
- What Is behind Putin’s Sudden Gambit in Ukraine?
- Abkhazia in 2021: Energy Crisis, New “Minister” and Political Controversy
- L'Europe pourra-t-elle éviter le “déjà vu” ? (France, President of the Council of the European Union, and the Tensions in Eastern Europe)
- US-Russia Relations and the Issue of Ukraine
- The New Targets of Ramzan Kadyrov’s Regime
- What are the Prospects of the Eastern Partnership Summit Set on 15 December?
- The Upcoming EaP Summit - Why the Trio Initiative Should Finally Find Its Way
- What Will the Post-Merkel Era Mean for the EU’s Russia and Eastern Neighbourhood Policy?
- What Lies Behind the Growing Cooperation of the Georgian and Hungarian Governments
- “Doberman” as a Minister: Inal Ardzinba’s Prospects and Challenges
- The Belarus Crisis: How to Enhance Our Resilience Against the Russian Strategy for Its Near-Neighborhood
- Moldova’s Gas Crisis Has Been Russia’s Yet Another Political Blackmailing
- EU-Poland’s worsened relations and what it means for the EaP
- Lessons From Germany on Political Culture: What Georgia Can Learn From the German Parliamentary Elections
- Belarus One Year On: An Insecure Regime Under Russian “Protection”
- Why Did Iran-Azerbaijan Relations Become Strained?
- Russia’s Parliamentary Elections - What Can Be Said About the Regime’s Stability
- An Emerging Foreign Policy Trend in Central and Eastern Europe: A Turn from China to Taiwan?
- Vaccination: “To Be, or not to Be”…
- Can Georgia use China to balance Russia?
- Sharia Patrols in Kabardino-Balkaria: A Growing Trend or a Local Conflict?
- Belarus’ exit from the Eastern Partnership and what to expect next
- Pacta Sunt Servanda: Agreements must be kept
- The West vs Russia: The Reset once again?!
- Associated Trio, What is Next?
- Formation of a New “Political Elite” in Abkhazia - Who Will Replace the Old “Elite?”
- The symbolism of the EU flag and why a true Christian would not tear it down and burn it
- The Cyber-Dimension of the Geneva Summit
- Securitization of the Arctic: A Looming Threat of Melting Ice
- Europe in Anticipation of the Results of a “Harmful Deal”
- What Should Georgia Expect from the NATO Summit
- The Issue of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region in the Context of NATO and European Union Membership
- (Re)Mapping the EU’s Relations with Russia: Time for Change?
- USA, Liberal International Order, Challenges of 2021, and Georgia
- The Political Crisis in Moldova: A Deadlock without the Way Out?
- Russia's Testing or Bullying?
- Georgia's transit opportunities, novelties and challenges against the backdrop of the pandemic
- ‘Vaccine Diplomacy’: A New Opportunity for Global Authoritarian Influence?
- Deal with the ‘Dragon’: What Can Be the Repercussions of the China-EU Investment Agreement?
- Georgia’s Application for European Union Membership
- A New Dawn for Transatlantic Relations under Biden’s Presidency: What Are the Hopes for Georgia?
- The End of the Russian Natural Gas Monopoly in Balkans
- Who did the judge sentence: Navalny, Putin or Russia?
- Biden’s Conundrum
- 2020 Developments in Abkhazia: “Elections,” the Pandemic and Deeper Integration with Russia
- The Hungarian Crisis: Is the EU Failing against Authoritarianism?
- Could Belarus Become a Prelude to the Great Polish-Swedish War 400 Years Ago?
- Vladimir Putin's Annual Grand Press Conference - Notable Elements and Messages
- COVID 19 Pandemic Economic Crisis and Reducing the Instability of Georgia’s National Currency
- Russia’s Energy Policy in the Tskhinvali Region
- Who Won and Who Lost with the War in Karabakh?
- What Russia has Gained in Karabakh
- What Armenia Did and Did not Lose as a Result of the Ceasefire Declaration in Karabakh
- Escalation of the Karabakh Conflict: Threats and Challenges for Georgia
- Protests in Belarus, Lukashenko and the Russian Federation
- Some Thoughts on the Use of the Term „Post-Soviet Space“
- Georgia’s European Way During the Period of Pandemic Deglobalization
- Turkey's Caucasus Policy Against the Backdrop of the Latest Armenia-Azerbaijan Tensions
- Khabarovsk Krai Protests as an Indicator of the Russian Federation’s Stability
- The Pragmatism and Idealism of the Georgian-American Partnership
- Independence of Georgia and the Historic Responsibility of Our Generation
- Trio Pandemic Propaganda: How China, Russia and Iran Are Targeting the West
- Complications Caused by the Coronavirus in Turkey and Their Influence on Georgia
- From Russia with… a Canny Plan
- “Elections” in Abkhazia: New “President’s” Revanche and Challenges
- Consumer Crisis in the Tskhinvali Region: Food for Thought
- Georgians Fighting the Same Battle 99 Years Later
- Georgian Defense – Political Paradox and the Vicious Circle of Not Having a System
- Confrontation between Russia and Turkey in Syria
- Why It Matters: Georgia’s 'Troll Scandal' Explained
- Political Crisis in Occupied Abkhazia
- What is the Significance of Killing General Qasem Soleimani?
- On the “Russian Culture Center” in Georgia
- Whither Economic Policy?
- Main Messages of Russian Propaganda
- Massive Cyberattacks On Georgia Calls For Defense And Resilience
- What do we know about the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Georgia?
- What is the Connection between NATO and Reclaiming Abkhazia?
- New Focuses of the Anti-Occupation Policy
- Georgia's Problems are not Addressed at G7 Meetings: Who is to Blame?
- Vladimir Putin’s Main Messages in his Interview with the Financial Times
- Georgia and Russia’s Post-modern Fascism
- Dugin has Come Out as a Supporter of Georgia – How Did This Happen?
- The Outcome of the European Parliament Elections - What Does it Mean for Georgia?
- Deterring Russia
- On NATO, Russia and Pat Buchanan
- Why Local Elections of March 31, 2019 in Turkey are Important?
- Does the Principle of Strategic Partnership Work in Ukraine-Georgia Relations?
- A New Chance for Circular Labor Migration between Georgia and the EU
- Modern Russia’s Own Wars of Religion
- Georgia’s Trade with Electricity: The Influence of Bitcoin
- Bolton’s visit to Moscow– what to expect in U.S-Russia relations?
- Georgia’s External Trade: How to Strengthen Positive Trends
- The Risk of the Renewal of the Karabakh Conflict after the Velvet Revolution in Armenia
- The Situation in Syria’s Idlib Province, Interests of the Parties and Threats
- The Helsinki Summit and its General Results
- Why It Is Necessary to Know the Day the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 Started
- Georgia’s Position in the Westernization Index 2018
- Why Did the Results of the G7 Summit in Charlevoix not Meet Our Expectations?
- How to Win Cold War 2.0
- The Ben Hodges Model – a Real Way for Georgia’s Membership in NATO
- The Russian “Ambassador’s” Rotation in Abkhazia
- Why did the Foreign Ministers of G7 not remember Georgia during their 23 April 2018 Toronto Meeting?
- Georgia and the American Strategy
- Putin’s Pre-Election Economic Promises: Myth and Reality
- Trade of Electricity: Successes of 2016, Reality of 2017 and Future Prospects– the Impact of Bitcoin (Part Two)
- Let Geneva Stay the Way it is
- Trade of Electricity: Successes of 2016, Reality of 2017 and Future Prospects – the Impact of Bitcoin (Part One)
- Turkey’s Military Operation in Afrin – a New Phase in the Syrian Conflict
- Kremlin New Appointments and the Occupied Regions of Georgia
- Geopolitical Vision of the Russian Opposition
- Dangers Originating from Russia and Georgia’s Security System
- Eurasian Custom Union and problems of Russian – Georgian FTA
- Is Georgia’s Export Growth Sustainable?
- Russia’s Influence over the Field of Security in Tskhinvali Region is Growing: Support for Full Integration
- What Awaits the People of Gali?
- Growth of Military Spending and Relations with Russia: Azerbaijan trying to Gain Advantage over Armenia
- Disrupt and Distract: Russia’s Methodology of Dealing with the West
- Trojan Horse Model IL- 76 or Why Would Russia Want to Fight Georgia’s Forest Fires
- Russian Diplomats in Georgia – who are they, how many of them are there and what are they up to
- Putin’s Visit to the Occupied Abkhazia: Was our Reaction Actually Adequate?
- Pence’s Visit to Georgia: Several Lessons and What We Should be Expecting
- Is it Acceptable for Georgia to Declare Neutrality?
- Georgia’s European Perspective in the Context of EU’s Future Evolution
- Brexit Negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom have been re-launched: What will be their Influence on Georgia?
- How to Stop the “Creeping Occupation”
- Kremlin’s Policy in the Occupied Regions of Georgia Moves to a New Stage
- Syrian Civil War in the Context of Regional Security
- The Winnable Second Round of Russia’s Neighbors’ Struggle against Its Imperialism
- Turkey’s Domestic and Foreign Policy in the Context of Regional Security
- Post-Soviet States – Struggle for the Legitimation of Power
- Parliamentary Elections in Armenia – The Triumph of the Governing Party
- Current Foreign Policy of Georgia: How Effective is it in Dealing with the Existing Challenges?
- Military Resilience - a Needed Factor for NATO-Partners
- Observations on the Agreement Reached with Gazprom
- New Russian Weaponry in the Caucasus and Its Impact on Georgia’s NATO Aspiration