Georgia disillusioned with Europe05.03.2011 | 12:57
Gradually Tbilisi gets disillusioned with its western allies. As representatives of the authorities and expert community agree, international structures do not offer Georgia as much assistance as it would be desired. Still more often Georgians recollect the times when the United States were governed by president George Bush and the country received a powerful financial and political support. Today's Georgia is full of grievances towards its partners for their reluctance to integrate Georgia's fading beacon of Caucasian democracy into their ranks. GeorgiaTimes asked State Duma deputy Sergey Markov why the European Union is so "cold".
Literally last week Georgia's state minister for reintegration Georgi Baramidze tried to assure everyone of Georgia's exceptional success in rapprochement with Europe. Meanwhile experts from Paris, Brussels and Tbilisi, less dependent on political conjuncture, disseminated a report that harshly criticizes the European Union's eastward policies.
The work is called "Evaluation of the EU's trade policy toward Eastern neighbors as exemplified by Georgia". The group of experts from different countries was studying conditions that the European Union sets forth preparing a free trade treaty. Three scientific centers - the Center for European Policy Studies (Brussels), the Group of Global Economy at the Institute of Political Studies (Paris) and the New Economic School in Georgia. For the first time the research attempts to provide documented evidence that Georgia's integration into Europe makes no headway.
The experts refer to the conditions that the European Union sets forth to start talks on a comprehensive free-trade treaty. According to the authors of the report, these conditions are inadequately severe. Besides, as experts believe, not every country inside the European Union is ready to meet the list of requirements.
The free-trade agreement with Georgia is part of Eastern partnership scheme that the European Union invented to cooperate with countries of Eastern Europe and Caucasus.
Indeed, Tbilisi got used to a different attitude of the European Union. A few years ago Georgia was the darling of all European organizations and states that were literally dragging Georgia into Europe. No one even cared of minor details like a free trade treaty. It seemed the day of the country's accession into the European Union was near at hand.
Yet, the epoch of pragmatism is here again. Let's not go into particulars of Eastern partnership policy. The only thing to be said is that Europe abandoned the idea of rapid integration of the Caucasian states a few years ago imposing new, more stringent requirements on neighbors. Presently Georgia is unable to meet them. And, as is customary, in this case experts make far-reaching political conclusions.
The report's main conclusion is that asking the impossible the European Union seems to put political pressure on Georgia forcing it to make concessions on Russia's entry into WTO. On the whole, as always, it's Russia to blame for all Sakartvelo's misfortunes. Let's leave this conclusion on conscience of experts and let's see what the European Union really wants from Georgia.
This is what Sergey Markov, State Duma deputy, said in an interview with GeorgiaTimes in connection with Europe's "cool-off": "The whole question now is Europe's attitude to Georgia. Ask them about their attitude to Mikheil Saakashvili. He is openly referred to as a liar and a bastard not to mention other bad words. Accordingly, all this is reflected on the entire set of relations between the European Union and Georgia. Europe has no more trust in Georgian leadership", - Markov said.
To start negotiations on free trade Georgia must meet four out of eleven conditions the European Union sets forth: creation of a food security control system, introduction of European standards for industrial methods and technology, foundation of an anti-monopoly agency and elaboration of relevant laws, as well as creation of intellectual property protection system. It should be stated directly Georgia will not meet these four requirements in the next ten years. For instance, introduction of European standards of industrial methods and technology practically means complete reorganization of all Georgian industry. To do it and meet the European Union's condition the latter must first of all allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for pan-Georgian reconstruction.
Giya Jandieri, one of the leaders of New Economic School, described the process how food security control works. "Controlling food production, an inspector must be totally aware of the origin and routes a tomato reaches the market. The condition of soil it grows on, the condition of seeds. It's wrong to set such requirements in a country on our level of development. Requirements must change in the course of time", - one of the authors of the report states.
Still, the saddest conclusion of experts is that if Georgia succeeds in meeting Europe's recommendations - hypothetically - the economic growth will shrink down to average European 4%. As experts believe, this is not enough for the country's population. Thus, political destabilization will be the inevitable result.
The worst thing is that Georgians have no more trust in Europeans. It is directly written in the report: "we have no guarantees that after Georgia meets all EU requirements no new conditions will be imposed".