How and why the music was chosen is not known. But as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze exchanged kisses and signatures, the melody eventually morphed into the more stately sounds of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the European Union anthem, and the protocol faux-pas faded away.
Nonetheless, a dangerous hopak dance remains underway in Ukraine, a country especially on many people's minds in Georgia now and for several reasons.
Many see the Ukrainian crisis as a grim warning of the pressures Georgia may face now, after initialing the Association Agreement with the EU and accelerating its drive toward Europe. With Russian troops entrenched in separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia, essentially in a gunshot from Tbilisi, Moscow does have some influence on Georgia, including a shared, majority Orthodox Christian faith and relatively conservative social views.
But a special vibe also explains why Georgia identifies with Ukraine in this fight. The enmity between Tbilisi and Moscow has varied only in degrees since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union, and for many Georgians, Ukraine -- largely blond, largely Russian-speaking and with a soft spot for Georgian products -- has become the friendly Russia of earlier years. For those Georgians who face linguistic, cultural and financial restraints within the EU, Ukraine has become the place to do business, and to party like back in the old days.
This connection only intensified under ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who studied in Kyiv, and is a personal friend of ex-President Viktor Yushchenko. Under Saakashvili, Tbilisi did not shy from inserting itself into Ukrainian affairs and openly tried to mess with the Kremlin’s plans there.
Wearing Ukrainian flags around their necks as scarves, parliamentarians from Saakashvili's United National Movement have called for condemning Moscow’s actions in a statement on Ukraine. The majority of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition went with more neutral wording, yet share the wariness about any Russian interference with Georgia's European aspirations.