Foreign policy and domestic constraints: what political regimes can and cannot do in Georgia
Georgia’s rapprochement with Russia started after the 2012 change of government, after which GD attempted to restore economic and interpersonal ties between the two countries. This rapprochement was made in the name of a pragmatic and interest-oriented foreign policy. This policy change was not driven by ideological concerns, although the party is mostly supported by a socially-conservative electorate that harbors some pro-Russian sentiments. The party also includes some pro-Russian politicians and factions. It seems that some influential groups within GD sought to persuade the Georgian public of the correctness of restoring political ties with Russia by using economic and social incentives. However, deliberately or not, GD step-by-step moved Georgia into Russia’s political orbit.
From this perspective, the recent protests marked the end of an era. The Georgian public took the political process into its own hands and warned the government that any rapprochement with Russia must remain strictly economic and cultural in nature, and that political rapprochement, even symbolic, crosses a red line. While it’s too early to tell, the aftermath of the demonstrations may stop the government’s seven-year-long project of rapprochement with Russia. That being said, it is important to highlight the Georgian public have nothing against ordinary Russians they only have problem with political Moscow.