Most of the American bandwidth for developments in the former Soviet Union is being taken up these days by events in Ukraine. But in late February, something very interesting happened in Washington that had to do with Georgia.
The Russia-Ukraine crisis is putting the South Caucasus country of Georgia on a faster track toward closer ties with the European Union; less clear are the implications of the Crimean standoff for Georgia’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
There is a guerrilla war going on in the middle of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. But this is no armed conflict. It’s a struggle over green space and greenbacks, and one with important implications for grassroots activism throughout the region.
Driving in Georgia can seem like something right out of a Mad Max movie. But after decades of a free-for-all road culture, Georgian motorists are being asked to discover their brakes and remember the difference between red and green.
Compared with the gargantuan scale of the US National Security Agency’s surveillance machine, the 21,000 cell phones that the government of Georgia can supposedly monitor each day is miniscule. But anger over state snooping is still creating a PR challenge for officials in Tbilisi.
For Georgia, the signing of an association agreement marks a major stride toward the European Union. But the pact should not be construed as an insurance policy against continued meddling by Moscow, experts say.
The Georgian Dream coalition, which controls the parliament in Georgia, seems to be playing fast and loose with parliamentary procedure, at least when it comes to its efforts to relocate the legislature.
Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili claims his intended resignation later this month will help break the South Caucasus country’s dependence on strong political personalities. Yet, even if he gives up his formal title, political analysts in Tbilisi expect Ivanishvili to remain the power behind the Georgian government.