The Role of the EU in Georgia
Throughout the centuries and during political changes, the ideological distance between Europe and Georgia has been changing too, creating or opening borders, underlining differences or highlighting similarities.
Georgian culture has always been a part of Europe (spiritually, mentally) and Western civilization by sharing values, narratives and discourses.
Historically, Georgia has been at the crossroads of cultures and civilizations, religions and political ambitions, West and East, North and South. Starting with its ancient Silk Road, it has been a transit country until today. Always under the pressure of surrounding emperies it was difficult for Georgia to choose its own way — its own road to freedom.
Looking at European-Georgian relations in every new decade, visions and contexts were always changing. However, on the other hand, there are traditional themes and issues that have been constant over the past decades.
Against the backdrop of those traditional issues, the question today is: where is our historical place in Europe?
Three European Dimensions: Political, Geographical and the dimension of values
Political and Geographical dimensions do not depend on us — they are determined by others — while values and their recognition is our choice.
And our choice is Europe, by affiliating ourselves with Western civilization and by sharing the same values.
From ancient times onwards, we are on the brick of Western civilization and on our way to join the Western world, sharing the same historical roots from which this civilization arose.
For me and for ordinary citizens, success for Georgia is equated with its political convergence to Europe and the European Union. It is equated with the assurance of our future development as free citizens.
At present, our achievement is a formatted association agreement with the European Union and the visa-free movement of Georgian citizens within the Schengen zone.
What does the European Union mean for us?
For us, the EU is the right to construct (to build) a free democratic society without “older brothers and comrades”, freedom of self-expression, guarantees for the protection of human rights and diversity.
Why the European Union and not the EuroAsian Union?
We already have been there. Once we went through Soviet Union’s hell and, as you know, if a child burns his hand once, he will never make the same mistake again. Starting with our ancestors, Europe and the Western civilization have been the historical choice until today.
On the basis of its ancient culture, Georgia has always been fighting for the civil liberties of its citizens.
Obstacles along the way to freedom:
Today we are standing at the border of the European Union, waiting for the moment to cross this boundary.
We are face to face with the Center-Periphery Dilemma. This dilemma plays a significant role in cultural and humanitarian issues. These spheres are the most sensitive ones and the most tangible ones for citizens.
In the light of severe post-Soviet propaganda, which tries to deepen Euroscepticism, the only correct choice is Europe and to become free citizens of this 21st century Union.
Leaving past experiences behind, Europe is our way into the future.
Dr. Levan Khetaguri, Director and Professor of Arts Research Institute of Georgia, President of Stichting Caucasus Foundation, member of ASfE Strategy Group and European Cultural Parliament, Secretary General of UNESCO ITI Georgian Natioal Center, author and translator of academic articles and books, invited professor at different universities, producer. Main field of activities are performing arts and cultural policy.