Shockingly enough, it turns out that bold irredentist moves by the biggest country in a region tend to spook its neighbors. That, at least, is the tone set by Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili as he spoke to reporters during his first trip to Brussels to meet with EU and NATO officials.
On the precedent of Ukraine:
“A country that is alienating its neighbors, that is threatening its neighbors … What does the country want to achieve? I don’t have a good answer. The country with the biggest territory in the world is looking for a few more square meters.”
On Putin’s plans for a Eurasian Economic Union—the trading bloc launched earlier this year between Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, and Russia, which was in the mind of Vladimir Putin to include Ukraine:
“There is a much more interesting European market, many more possibilities, but [Russia is asking] why don’t you join the Russian market just because Russia wants you to. The values that are embedded in the [Russian] political system … are alien for us. They were alien for us when we were part of the Soviet Union.”
On Russia’s security offers:
“In 1994, Ukraine disarmed its nuclear weapons in a deal signed by Russia, based on goodwill to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity. On the 20th anniversary of this historic action, what do we see? We see occupied Ukraine, we see occupied Crimea.”
Amid a shakeup which saw the sacking of a pro-Western minister of defense from the Georgian Dream governing coalition last year, Svante Cornell asked whether Georgia was slipping away from the West. Though the political scene in Georgia remains complex, this is strong language coming from the Georgian president. Perhaps the balance is tipping away from Moscow among Georgia’s ruling elites.