Like many failed regimes dependent on foreign aid and playing one power off against another, Georgian politicians learned to pre-echo what Uncle Sam and the Eurocrats think. Some of it they meant. Our knee-jerk Cold War suspicion of the Kremlin made their Russophobia seem natural. But playing up nationalism even when it has a real emotional basis is not the way to stabilize a society, not [sic] to stabilize its regional relations.
Anti-Armenian and anti-Azeri rhetoric worried the near neighbors. Saakashvili demolished both the neo-classical building that had housed the Imperial Russian gendarmerie and a district of Armenian houses to make way for his new palace.
Georgians noted the contrast with his claims in 2003 that he only needed a “three room apartment,” but the neighboring nations heard his apologists say that the new government’s massive re-ordering of old Tbilisi only “affect Armenians, Azeris, Kurds and foreigners.”
Whereas the authoritarian Aliev clan running neighboring Azerbaijan has enough oil revenue to fund a stable state system and many Azeris have jobs, Georgia’s much-praised reforms have boosted unemployment and mass migration. The only surviving industry from Soviet days seems to be massaging the statistics.
The oil pipeline across Georgia to Turkey from the Azeri oil fields in the Caspian has been a nice cash cow for the Georgian government and its appointees, but it hasn’t provided any boost to the rest of the economy. In fact, now that the Baku-Ceyhan project is finished, lay-offs – not new jobs – are the result. Part of the political infighting in Tbilisi is to control the transit fees. ~Mark Almond
Almond’s basic message is that we should stop meddling in Georgia’s affairs. I couldn’t agree more.