Is Georgia’s European future at risk?

The Hub: International Perspectives – Friday, November 7, 2014 – 12:51

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By Zaza Gachechiladze, The Messenger

Defense Minister Irakli Alasania’s dismissal and his party the Free Democrats’ quitting the Georgian Dream coalition raised questions over Georgia’s European future. Alasania stressed that the country’s western course is now in danger. However, the former official refrained from giving more details or names. The government maintains that such speculations are nonsense.

At his special briefing on November 4, Alasania pushed forward that the current developments regarding the Defense Ministry were deliberate actions aimed at damaging the country’s image, and Georgia’s integration into the European space. The same sentiments were repeated by former ministers of Foreign Affairs and Euro-Atlantic Integration, who resigned following Alasania’s firing.

Analyst Elene Khoshtaria is certain that the Georgian Dream was intent on ridding itself of Alasania.

“The coalition is in crisis, it is practically destroyed. It is very obvious that the problem does not concern only Alasania, the issue affects Georgia’s pro-western intentions,” Khoshtaria said.

Foreign diplomats also chimed in. Former Foreign Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt informed that the “attack on the Ministry of Defense resulted in the dismissal of Minister Alasania. The country’s [European] course is at risk.”

The United National Movement criticized Alasania for not saying who it is that is hampering Georgia’s pro-Western course. They suspect that the Founder of the Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili is orchestrating the pro-Russian sentiments through the hands of the current Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili.

Meanwhile, the current government denies suggestions that Georgia’s European orientation will change and stress that Europe is the choice of Georgian people and not of any government.

“Europe is a firm destination of Georgians and their government, statements concerning some deviation from this course are naive, and are far from reality,” Gharibashvili said.

The government statements on the issue were welcomed by the international community. However, they stressed that they are closely observing the current developments in the country. NATO Special Representative to the South Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai thanked the three ministries for their constant cooperation and non-stop promotion for Georgia’s advancement in the foreign field.

“I am glad that the Prime Minister stated the current developments would not change Georgia’s push towards the Euro-Atlantic space,” Appathurai said.

The Director of the McCain Institute of International leadership Curt Walker, believes Alasania’s dismissal from the cabinet is more related to internal political issues, rather than to the general political orientation of Georgia. Speaking to Voice of America, Walker said it looks like there has been tension between Gharibashvili and Alasania for some time now, and as a result, the defense minister had to be sent away from the team.

It appears Georgia is on the edge of a political crisis. It will be up to the Georgian Dream government to quell any fears and to maintain its course towards Europe as they have vowed to do.

 

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