Georgia – A New Cornerstone in Transatlantic Relations

The active transatlantic flirt between Europe and the USA was re-energised after World War II and lasted until the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

© AP Photo | Shakh Aivazov

The active transatlantic flirt between Europe and the USA was re-energised after World War II and lasted until the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tracing the story back, from Georgia’s perspective transatlantic cooperation began with the establishment of the Western European Union (WEU), primarily against Germany.

Subsequently, US foreign policy underwent several abrupt changes, ushered in by growing concern over the increasing power of the USSR as an actor that managed to succeed where Hitler’s Germany had not. Consequently, the principle of mutual defence was agreed, leading to the establishment of NATO – and the gates to the era of the Cold War were opened wide.

After the USSR dissolved, former Soviet Republics embarked on their own independent nation-building processes, significantly impeded in separatist regions by civil and military conflicts orchestrated by the newly established Russian Federation, in order to keep particular strategic regions under its strategic control. Even today, 26 years since regaining their sovereignty, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan face and have faced multiple challenges engendered by the conflicts fostered and supported by the Russian Federation in order to keep NATO and the WEU away from Russia’s claimed “sphere of influence”.

The Russian invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, in 2008 and 2014 respectively, helped NATO to reshape and re-define its role in the post-cold-war world, after a period of political recession as a… Click to Tweet
In the light of Russia’s undermining of the principle of territorial integrity, upon which the European security architecture had rested for decades, NATO resurrected itself and started to consider ways to respond.

Notably, the NATO-Warsaw Summit marked a major change in the Alliance’s policy to strengthen the eastern flank. Earlier, at the NATO summit in Wales

after the annexation of the Crimea, NATO promoted the idea of reforming already-existing forces – the NATO Response Force (NRF) and the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force… Click to Tweet
Stationed in carefully considered locations, these forces are a rapid action tool to deter possible conflict with Russia.

On top of that, the

Black Sea has become an active strategic spot encapsulated in NATO’s security arrangements with Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia. In the case of Turkey, its role in the regional… Click to Tweet
A state with aspirations of becoming a strong regional power, Turkey has wide-ranging partnership opportunities with Russia regarding the Black Sea and their shared anti-Western political inclinations.

Due to these political dynamics, Georgia’s strategic significance has greatly increased. First, its physical location between Turkey and Russia makes Georgia an important partner. Second, while aspiring to be a member of NATO, the country supports and contributes to NATO’s security architecture within the Black Sea region. Third, as part of the NATO Response Force, Georgia hosts the multinational US Army Europe-led exercise, Noble Partner. Noble Partner exercises were established in 2015 in order to train service members from the Georgian Armed Forces and NATO member states for the NRF and to assist Georgian troops in improving their interoperability with NATO military units. In a nutshell, the exercise enables Georgia to comply with, interoperate with and contribute to the NRF.

In contrast to the above-mentioned political dynamics, the world operates on multiple levels. Aside from European security arrangements, the U.S. is facing a strategic shift from Europe to Asia that creates a significant uncertainty about Russia, and so the idea of enhancing European military capacity is discussed at length within the EU.

But, before unleashing the EU’s military potential, a well-remembered promise made at the NATO Bucharest Summit about the Ukraine and Georgia joining the membership of NATO (a process stalled by Russia’s actions) should be revisited as a matter of trust. Furthermore, reversing any apparent loss of trust between Russia and NATO means recognizing Russia’s “sphere of influence”, which directly challenges Europe’s own security arrangements and the logic of Western sanctions on Russia. For instance, President Obama’s attempt to rebuild trust between the West and Russia resulted only in the latter’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent involvement in Syria. 

Some may argue that multi-layered institutional arrangements should be employed in order to prevent Russia pressuring the rest of Europe, but we have to ask first if restoration of trust actually… Click to Tweet

Originally published in European Security and Defence magazine

You might be interested in America and Europe in the Wake of post-Atlanticism Along with Russia and China

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Author

  • Beka Kiria is Director of the Gagra Institute. Prior to founding the Institute, Kiria was an independent political analyst and worked at the Ministry of Defence of Georgia in the capacity of Senior Specialist at Defence Policy and Planning Department. He developed a number of key national defence and security documents and led a legislative review of the defence and security sector acts. Kiria graduated from the University of Leicester, UK with Master’s degree in Public International Law. Previously, he studied International Relations at Cambridge Art and Science College, UK.

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