Dr. Darchiashvili, as this is your first time on our show, please tell us a little bit about yourself, your interests and your endeavors!
Over the past two decades, Georgia has weathered storms of political upheaval, economic instability, and even outright conflict. The scars of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War still linger, serving as a stark reminder of the tumultuous times the nation has endured. In the aftermath of the Rose Revolution in 2003, hopes were high for democratic consolidation and economic prosperity. However, the road to progress was marred by internal divisions, external pressures, and regressions in reforms.
There’s a running joke in Armenia that wherever Pashinyan visits, the government resigns. He visited Georgia on January 26 and the following day, Georgia’s prime minister Gharibashvili resigned. On February 2 Pashinyan visited Kazakhstan and on February 5 the government of Kazakhstan resigned. Pashinyan’s travel itinerary should come with a disclaimer: ‘Warning: may cause sudden vacancies in government positions… except in Armenia, where apparently such luck takes a vacation!’
On 14 December 2023, the EU accepted Georgia’s application for candidate status. Yet, one can imagine that Georgia’s EU ascension journey is just beginning.
Georgia’s (and Ukraine’s) membership candidacy comes in the midst of a brutal war that is now almost 2 years old with no end in sight. In this context, there is immense pressure from major warring sides to pull countries in their direction. So far, Georgia has managed to successfully navigate these turbulent diplomatic waters.
Georgia’s military is already very much integrated with NATO. And I’m sure many Georgian political forces would support deepening that by official membership. We know that Russia gets extremely irritated when a NATO official praises Armenia for some policy or another. We also know Russia’s insistence on having a neutral Ukraine on its borders and this issue could be cited as one of the main reasons for the war in Ukraine.
On January 26, Pashinyan was in Tbilisi, meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili. A strategic partnership agreement was signed between the two countries that encompass nearly a dozen spheres, excluding defense, but not a lot is known about the content of the agreement yet.
Regardless of their political leanings, all Armenians place a high value in the improvement of relations with Georgia but many of us want to know what real benefits this deal will provide. Additionally, different analysts have differing interpretations of this development: some claim that this is a step in the direction of pulling Armenia more towards the west; while others say that this move will benefit the Iran-Armenia-Georgia geopolitical axis and economic North-South corridor, strengthening relations with Iran.
During the 44 day war, we saw that Georgia actually blocked military supplies from Russia to Armenia. Even during the latest shipment of French “Bastion” armored personnel carriers, there was news that the shipment was held up in Georgia until Paris twisted Tbilisi’s arms. Meanwhile on a weekly basis we see military supplies from countries like Israel and Turkey pass unfettered through Georgian airspace and territory.
Georgia is concerned about Russian influence and encroachments from the north. Armenia is concerned about Turkish influence on Georgia from the south. Turkey, of course, is the hand of NATO in the South Caucasus.
All right, that’s our show, we hope you found it useful. Please find us on Social Media and follow us everywhere you get your Armenian news, the links are in the show notes. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. We’ll talk to you soon!
Dr. David Darchiashvili is a Former MP of the Georgian Parliament from the party United National Movement (2008-2016). Currently he’s not affilicated with any political parties and concentrates on his research and teaching at Ilia State University Tbilisi, with expertise in International Relations. From 2002-2003 Dr. Darchiashvili was a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. He has authored many articles and books, one of his latest publications is Georgia: Warlords, Generals, and Politicians, By David Darchiashvili and Stephen Jones, 2020, Oxford Research Encyclopedias.
Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.
Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.