Author: Valeri Chechelashvili, Senior Fellow at Rondeli Foundation
Georgia and Ukraine’s problems with the Russian Federation are an integral part of the global confrontation between Russia and the civilized world. Therefore, hopes for their resolution exclusively in a bilateral format are at best naive.
Georgia and Ukraine can progress towards such a resolution only with the support of the world community and, above all, the most important global players – the United States and the European Union. Challenging this thesis is dangerous for anyone’s professional reputation.
The G7 is a platform where global players – the USA, the core states of the European Union: Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy, as well as Japan and Canada elaborate a common position and approve decisions with far-reaching consequences on the wide spectrum of international relations. The importance of the G7 institution is hard to overestimate. For the diplomacy of any state, the most important achievement is the support expressed at the G7 Summit. This directly and particularly applies to Georgia in light of the abovementioned thesis about the need to mobilize international support in the fight against the aggressor. Unfortunately, our successes in this field are not entirely impressive. This is particularly true when compared with Ukraine’s foreign policy successes. The country has almost the same system of foreign policy priorities as Georgia as well as the same structure of challenges. The adversary is common as well – Russia which is occupying territories of both countries.
In 2018, at a meeting of the G7 Foreign Ministers in Toronto (the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Mr. Pavlo Klimkin, was also invited to participate) and the Summit of the Heads of State / Government of the G7 in Charlevoix, Ukraine managed to achieve serious successes. A number of paragraphs were devoted to Ukraine’s problems in the Final Documents of these meetings. The documents did not say a word about Georgia’s problems. We wrote about these developments last year (see: “Why did the Foreign Ministers of G7 not remember Georgia during their 23 April 2018 Toronto Meeting? ” and “Why Did the Results of the G7 Summit in Charlevoix not Meet Our Expectations?”.
Certain hopes were associated with the G7 Chairmanship of France this year. These hopes were strengthened after the inauguration of the new President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili, especially after her visit to France was announced on February 17.
At the end of 2018, we wrote about respective positive expectations and the possible actions of Georgian diplomacy (see: “Salome Zurabishvili Will Have the Opportunity to Secure Important Diplomatic Success for Georgia in France in 2019”.
The first assessments made by the President of Georgia after her visit were also encouraging. Madame President, after returning to Georgia on February 22, positively assessed the results of her visits to France and Germany. She emphasized that she “is happy with France’s readiness to fully support Georgia that exceeded all expectations.” Further quote: “France expressed readiness to fully support Georgia. Now we have to wait until these statements are reflected in real actions. I would say that France’s attitude towards Georgia has changed. This referers to strengthning cooperation in military and airspace defense. I have not heard such a firm and supportive position from France for years”.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry welcomed the results of the visit as well, particularly emphasizing the importance of the D. Akhvlediani France-Georgia Dialogue initicated by the President of Georgia. Indeed, this very important platform expands the capacity to activate the international authority of France in support of our country.
It seemed that under the French Chairmanship, the G7, along with the problems of Ukraine, would elaborate a clear position on the challenges Georgia faces keeping in mind the fact that these problems are generated in the same place. And that is the Kremlin.
Unfortunately, we have to admit that for Georgia the year 2019 is again the one of missed opportunities. At least, in the sense of asserting priorities on the G7 agenda. And again, this is amid the successes of Ukrainian diplomacy.
The meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers was held in Dinard – Saint – Malo on April 5 – 6 this year. In its Final Communique in two expanded paragraphs, Numbers 43 and 44, Chapter “Regional Crisis and Threats,” the meeting reflected its position on Ukraine, expressing its full support for Ukraine under the ongoing Russian aggression. Not a word about Georgia again . And this is as if Georgia is not suffering from Russian intervention, creeping occupation and so on.
In accordance with the practice of the G7 meetings, the essence of these paragraphs will be respectively reflected in the Final Documents of the G7 Summit which is scheduled to be held in Biarritz on August 24 – 26.
Why did Georgian diplomacy miss this unique chance? Why did the President of Georgia not take advantage of her opportunities to advance Georgia’s interests in France, at least within the context of the G7 decisions? And why, after all, were consultations with Ukraine not held? Ukraine, which is, by the way, as declared, our strategic partner? Why were positions between strategic partners not coordinated?
Everyone can give his own answer to these questions. Meanwhile all of us together have to state with regret that the effectiveness of Georgian diplomacy needs better quality. At least in mobilizing the resources of the G7 as an institution to defend and advance our interests.