NATO MEMBERS IN TRANS-CAUCASIA ?
While this has escaped the attention of the American press, it appears the Republic of Georgia has quietly been attempting to build a relationship with NATO
is an ancient Christian nation and former Soviet Republic in the resource-rich
Trans-Caucasian region. The Georgians have a long history of suffering oppression from outside powers including the Iranians, Turks, Mongols, Russian Tsars and Soviet Communists. When not struggling against foreign rule, they tend to feud with their neighbors or amongst themselves being divided into ethnic tribes like the Abkhazians, Mingrelians, Svanyi among others. Since independence Russia has meddled in Georgia's internal affairs to encourage ethnic separatism in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and been a party to a number of peacekeeping and anti-terrorist agreements with Georgia.
, the former Soviet Foreign Minister under Gorbachev whose administration replaced the democratically elected but nonetheless weird and authoritarian regime of ousted president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, is essentially a survivor in a very tough neighborhood. Most people, to the extent that they remember Shevardnadze, is his courageous resignation as Foreign Minister, warning Gorbachev of a possible hardline Communist coup. It is worth recalling that Shevardnadze began his Soviet career using the Interior Ministry (MVD) to investigate and destroy a rival Communist faction in the Georgian Communist Party apparatus, catching the eye of KGB chief and Politburo member Yuri Andropov who also sponsored Gorbachev and Vladmir Kryuchkov, who later used his post as KGB Chairman to launch the Coup in 1991. A friend of the West today, yes. A model democrat or a liberal, no.
Relations between NATO ,other European political structures and the United States should continue with an emphasis on preventing Georgia's territorial disintegration, integrating it's economy with that of Europe and creating a professional military force capable of clamping down on ethnic paramilitaries, Chechen rebels and gangster bands without recourse to direct Russian assistance.