What Yanukovych’s Victory Means For Georgia

By Ghia Nodia
Radio Free Europe
10 February 2010

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko (right) greets his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili in Kyiv last November. Will Viktor Yanukovuych greet him so warmly?

…In recent years, Ukraine served as Georgia’s bridge to the West — not the only one, but an important one. Ukraine has considerably more geopolitical and economic weight than Georgia and is geographically much closer to the heart of Europe. It is much harder for European countries to ignore Ukraine’s ambitions of membership in NATO and the European Union than it is to brush Georgia off.

After the colored revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, despite all their differences, the two countries came to be viewed together as two countries that had made a distinct choice in favor of Western values. In both cases, this choice had to be viewed in the context of the open enmity of Russia, which actively tried to influence both countries and force them to change their political course. Now it is clear that this connection has been broken…

…The election in Ukraine has revealed a paradox: a pro-Russian candidate won, but he won as a result of genuine, competitive, democratic elections — something that draws Ukraine toward Europe and away from Russia. In addition, the business community will push Kyiv toward a European direction (despite its not-very-European character). In this light, Ukraine has more common interests with Georgia than with Russia.

The feeling of solidarity between Georgia and Ukraine did not begin with the colored revolutions and the personal ties between Yushchenko and Saakashvili. And it will not disappear under President Yanukovych. The postrevolutionary period was a peak in relations between the two countries and that peak is undoubtedly behind us.

Georgia will have to assess its geopolitical losses, but it must also not fail to consider the opportunities for continuing to develop bilateral cooperation, even if it must be pursued in less glamorous forums.

The complete article is at Radio Free Europe.

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