Georgia: Schizophrenic about Sochi?
When Russia moved the Sochi Olympics security zone 11 kilometers deep into neighboring breakaway Abkhazia, Tbilisi protested, but sotto voce. Not loud enough to disrupt its official attempts to normalize ties with Moscow.
Government officials call that pragmatism. But, increasingly, some Georgians term it schizophrenia.
Georgia has shown signs of such an ailment before. In an attempt to establish what they term the border of breakaway South Ossetia, Russian troops, stationed in South Ossetia since the 2008 war with Georgia, have been weaving fences through Georgian-held territory, often cutting through villages and pasture-land.
Tbilisi also has protested the fence fetish, and alerted its friends in the West, who, in turn, have shook their heads with the requisite expression of concern, but gone no further.
Yet despite these affronts from Moscow, Tbilisi is still dispatching a team of athletes to the Olympics. To appease domestic criticism, though, no senior government officials will be tagging along. Team Georgia will include a mere four athletes.
As another overture, Georgia earlier had offered to help Russia in providing security for the Sochi Games. That’s kind of you, Moscow said, but added that to normalize ties, Tbilisi needs to perform a little “formality” and accept the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
So, where has the policy of "pragmatism" gotten Tbilisi?
The Georgian government argues that avoiding fresh diplomatic conflicts with Russia is especially important now to stay on track to formalize a critical trade agreement with the European Union.
The post-Sochi period will show just how effective playing the constructive card will be in averting such a turn of events.