Where does Georgia stand 15 years after the war?

The Russo-Georgian War began 15 years ago, on 8 August 2008. Russia used the long-simmering conflict over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia - which formally belong to Georgia - to attack Georgia and permanently secure an increased military presence in the region. But Russia wields great influence far beyond this in Georgia today, commentators emphasise.

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The Conversation (FR) /

Bolster pro-European forces with accession status

The country needs a clear EU perspective, advises economist Jean-Paul Michel Larçon in The Conversation:

“Refusing its accession on the grounds of unmet requirements and punishing the current government would discourage the public opinion, which is predominantly pro-European, as well as political players who think along the same lines. ... The March 2023 demonstrations against the 'foreign agents' bill illustrated the division in the country and the fragility of the situation. ... To safeguard the future, the ideal situation would be for the European Union to grant Georgia the status of an accession candidate, subject to certain conditions.”

Delfi (LT) /

Too focused on Russia

Vytautas Bruveris, editor-in-chief of ELTA news agency, notes that Russia's position vis-à-vis Georgia is regrettably strong. In Delfi he writes:

“Judging by all parameters, the unoccupied remainder of Georgia has only slid backwards in recent years. The government has not officially given up its goals of bringing the country into the EU and Nato, but these are just empty words. In fact Tbilisi not only feigns efforts at integration and reform, it is also pushing the country towards a Russian-style kleptocratic autocracy. Moreover, the oligarchic structures backing the government, with their interests and dependencies linked to Russia, also dictate the essentially pro-Russian policies of the state.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Propaganda bearing fruit

Yuri Panchenko of Ukrainska Pravda also sees Georgia moving closer to Russia:

“A very important thesis of the current Georgian government is that the West is allegedly demanding that Georgia 'open a second front' in the war against Russia. Although no Western politician has actually said this (and on the Ukrainian side top politicians have never made such demands), the massive propaganda is bearing fruit. A large proportion of the voters of the [ruling] Georgian Dream party believe or have been convinced that the current problems in Georgia's relations with the EU are not a result of the country turning its back on democracy but of its unwillingness to enter into a new war with Russia.”

Kommersant (RU) /

Abkhazia and South Ossetia questions slow the thaw

The relations between Georgia and Russia remain complicated, Kommersant explains:

“Disagreements over the status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are the stumbling block in Russian-Georgian relations: every step the countries take towards each other ends where talks on status begin. But this does not mean that these steps die on the vine: there is intensive trade and joint business projects between the two countries, Russian tourists come to Georgia just as gladly as those who wanted to escape the mobilisation in autumn 2022. ... At present, the Georgian establishment is divided regarding its attitude towards Russia and the latter's actions in Ukraine.”