Georgia in the heart of the « great game »

A year after his 2004 election, Mikhail Saakachvili can be credited of a first very positive outcome : Georgia is engaged in a deeply reform process and is securing its switch to the West, provoking some grumpy reactions from the Kremlin. The new reformist team still face real challenges : boosting the reforms; improving their bilateral relationship with Moscow; resolving the internal conflicts. Pressured by Washington and Moscow (both capitals focusing on their own energetic agendas), President Saakachvili is keen to involve the Europeans further in Georgia. He prays for an enlarged OSCE mandate in South Ossetia and an active military and civilian EU presence in Abkhazia to replace the Russian forces in both places. However, to be able to commit itself further in Georgia, the European Union has first to review its policy towards Russia. This is a real challenge Brussels has to deal with if the EU wants to reassure its global credibility. – Summary AFRI-2005