Ukraine should take a closer look at what’s going on in Georgia — opinion

The Georgian parliament has passed a bill on “foreign agents,” or the so-called “Russian law,” in the second reading, which has already led to large-scale protests in Tbilisi.

As well as warnings from the West that further work on this document will lead to the suspension of Georgia’s EU integration. However, neither the opinion of their own society nor the statements of Western politicians have influenced the Georgian government’s stance.

At a rally in support of the bill, “oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, former prime minister and real patron of the ruling party, called for a ‘final verdict’ on the opposition, which he accuses of being ‘foreign agents’ of the global war party of the European Union and NATO who are ‘preparing a revolution’ before the October elections.”

“Never before has the intention to return Tbilisi under Moscow’s wing, which seized a fifth of the country’s territory in 2008, been expressed so clearly,” a columnist of the Italian newspaper La Stampa wrote.

Read also: Georgia’s worries on Russian influence go beyond foreign agents law, states Salome Zourabichvili

Georgian PM Irakli Kobakhidze, who is considered one of Ivanishvili’s favorites, directly accused former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan of organizing the protests.

“Spoke to Counselor of the U.S. Department of State [Derek Chollet] and expressed my sincere disappointment with the two revolution attempts of 2020-2023 supported by the former U.S. Ambassador and those carried out through NGOs financed from external sources. Had these attempts been successful, the second front line would have been opened in Georgia,” Kobakhidze wrote on Twitter.

This phrase about the “second front line” is key in the political tactics of Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream party. Georgian public opinion supports Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, but at the same time fears a repeat of the events of 2008. And the current Georgian government is actively stoking these fears, trying to present itself as the only force that can keep Georgia from a new war with Russia.

And isn’t that what an ardent supporter of the current Georgian government, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, is doing? “European leaders are dragging the continent into war instead of peace,” Orbán recently said in his speech on the anniversary of Hungary joining the European Union. Sounds awfully similar to Ivanishvili’s speech in Tbilisi, does it not?

Intimidating your populace with the threat of war — in Georgia’s case after a recent war — is the very political capital that allows the authorities to hold and cement power. And Ukraine should take a closer look at this example today.

Read also: Georgia risks sliding into Russia’s orbit — opposition MP

In response, of course, I will hear that Georgia didn’t have such destruction in 2008 that Ukraine now has after [Russia’s] full-scale invasion. Although the actual history of the conflict is deeper: Georgia has lived in conflict with Russia since the first days of its independence, they had wars and ethnic cleansing, sabotage, but none of it prevented the success of the Georgian Dream party and the idea of preventing a new conflict. So, I would propose a completely different formula: the more severe the war, the greater the desire to prevent it in the future.

And the greater the popularity of politicians who will pledge to avert more violence, even at the cost of risky compromises with Moscow and strengthening authoritarian tendencies. Therefore, not becoming a country where a “Ukrainian Dream” can triumph politically is as important a task for Ukraine as surviving and ending the war with Russia.

We’re bringing the voice of Ukraine to the world. Support us with a one-time donation, or become a Patron!

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine