Beka Chedia, Ph.D. (Political Science), head of publishing projects of the Tbilisi School of Political Studies (Tbilisi, Georgia)

When Georgia became a newly independent state in December 1991, it regarded the West as a geopolitical entity, while Europe became part of its living space.

Later, when Europe finally sorted out its status, Georgia found its place on the continents political map.

Very much interested in the European Unions expansion, Tbilisi had to answer the question: What is Europe after all?

In Soviet times, Europe was divided (for political rather than geographic reasons) into Western and Eastern Europe.

The Iron Curtain disappeared together with the Soviet Union to make way for the newly independent states and new geopolitical realities in Eastern Europe.

Today Tbilisi is wondering: Does Georgia stand the chance of gaining full membership in the European Union?

Rooted in the Past: Georgian Europeism. History, Culture, Geography or Politics?

History. Georgia has never let Europe out of its sight. In 1713-1716, Prince Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, a prominent public and political figure of his time, toured Europe in search of political support and, possibly, a union. He visited Pope Clement XI and French King Louis XIV; he even adopted Catholicism, but his efforts remained unappreciated.

In the 18th century, the idea of Europeism gained even wider currency in Georgia. In his The Sage of the Orient (written in Georgian), the first political treatise in Georgia, Alexander Amilakhvari testified that the European enlighteners, Montesquieu in particular, exerted huge influence on Georgian society.

In the 19th century, Georgia remained as Europe-oriented as ever. Iakob Gogebashvili, one of the most prominent public figures of his time, wrote in so many words: Since the 18th century, our nation has been aware of the need to draw closer to Europe.

In 1918, it looked as if the dream had finally come true. Having detached itself from the Russian Empire, Georgia allied with Germany only to discover that the alliance was built on sand. Europe, as represented by Germany, betrayed Georgia. It abandoned it to its fate: having lost the battle against the Soviet occupants, Georgia also lost, for many years to come, the chance of developing along with Europe.

It should be said that the Social-Democratic government of Georgia that was in power in 1918 was the first of its kind on the continent. In his work Georgian Foreign Policies (in Georgian), Prime Minister Noah Zhordania wrote that at all times his country had been striving toward Europe and its culture and.

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