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Georgia playing the card2010-07-20 10:19
During his visit to France, President Saakashvili received a harsh warning from his colleague Nicolas Sarkozy as to Iranian policy. Saakashvili was told that his desire to be on easy terms with EU should not go against the policy conducted by European Union in the region. And then it turned out suddenly that the visa-free regime will soon be set up between Iran and Georgia. What does this step mean against the background of attempts to isolate Iran? Does anyone really believe that a bankrupt country is carrying on its own policy against its creditors' interests? No doubt Tbilisi is taking steps that are contrary to European Union's policy but do they also contradict the USA's interests?
Active communication between Tbilisi and Teheran causes a number of suppositions. The first thing obvious is the realization of Washington's orders to approach Iran in order to set up a negotiating platform through Georgia and soften confrontational relations between the USA and Iran. Indeed, the plan seems to be good enough. On one hand, Washington cannot give up its fierce statements in respect of Iran but on the other hand, the USA have exhausted themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan and it would be a deathly step to initiate an adventure with Iran. Saakashvili is the most suitable candidate for mediation: he is dependant, obedient and can perfectly see his benefit of becoming a potential candidate for Nobel Prize. Besides, the moment has been selected with care: Russia has supported UN's sanctions that caused Teheran's discontent.
However, there is another less possible scenario: after a number of adventures, including military ones, Obama's administration grew cooler towards Georgia and Hillary Clinton's visit only confirmed that clinging to the Caucasus may cost too much. Having noticed the coolness, Saakashvili might have chosen another way, which is politically justified but is rather unreliable - blackmailing.
He simply imitated Turkey's actions, which tried to press upon European Union by establishing strategic partnership with Russia. One should remember Turkish prime minister's visit to Batumi. Erdogan arrived in Georgia after visiting Baku and Iran. There is a possibility that wishing to strengthen relationship with Iran Turkey is looking for supporters of such policy.
But no illusions: Georgia and Turkey are not the same. Mikhail Saakashvil must have hoped to win the support of Obama's administration in exchange for close communication with Iran. Iranian president was allegedly invited to Tbilisi for that very purpose, which became a true "mutiny aboard" and the United States gave Georgia a yellow card. Afterwards, Georgians started excusing themselves and denied Iranian president's scheduled visit.
However, there is too much noise caused by the activation of Georgia-Iran relations. On one hand, it is important for Georgia to maintain historical relationship with Iran, which is one of its interests. Iran is an important large state with the population of 70 million people. It is a sales market, a partner and a creditor for Georgia's current losing economy. It is true that the USA have got their own interests in the South Caucasus but the relations of Georgia and Iran cannot alter those interests. At the same time, Tbilisi should consider the international community's critical attitude towards Teheran.