Reflections on Georgia’s Western Aspirations (Attitudes towards EU and NATO Integration)
“I am Georgian and, therefore, I am European” (Europe, 2022). Well-known phrase of the former speaker of the Georgian parliament Zurab Zhvania made in 1999 implied the idea that Georgia was supposed to be the part of European Alliance. Since that period, this phrase has been providing different interpretations of Georgian identity. If many Georgians believe in the importance of having closer ties with the West, and see the benefits of it, these aspirations sometimes have transactional undertones (Kakabadze, 2004). According to the survey conducted in September, 2020 by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) on behalf of Carnegie Europe and the Levan Mikeladze Foundation for the joint Future of Georgia project, most Georgians still follow Zhvania’s lead. Many identify themselves as Europeans and want their country to become a member of both the EU and NATO. Yet their views on Europe remain complex (CRRC-Georgia, 2021).
Interesting is to find out what does it mean to Georgian society to be European? Does this mean an embrace of the social agenda and values of Western Europeans? Or is West merely seen as a protector of Georgians’ security? Georgians’ answers to these questions are sometimes contradictory, as they seek to establish a special place for themselves on the margins of Europe.
Keywords: EU, Georgia, integration, NATO, West
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