Will Minsk open the EAEU doors to Tbilisi?
At the end of last week, Alexander Lukashenko visited Tbilisi accompanied by his son Nikolai. The President of Belarus met with his Georgian counterpart Georgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Georgi Kvirikashvili, Catholicos Ilia II and visited the Sarajishvili Cognac Factory.
Following the path of reviving the agrarian potential, Georgia relies on cooperation with Belarus, despite opposing foreign policy courses - Tbilisi adheres to the pro-Western views, and Minsk is in favor of the tight integration in the post-Soviet space.
Small and medium-sized businesses in Georgia see Belarus as an advantageous partner. The desire to support the cooperation is indicated by the positive rhetoric of the political elites of both states. In 2015, during the first official visit of Lukashenko to Georgia, Minsk decided to support the Georgian agrarians with the products of machine building. In Tbilisi, a joint venture was set up to produce Belarusian tractors, and a large shopping center for Belarusian products was opened. At one time, Belarus managed not only to preserve the material and technical base that it inherited after the collapse of the USSR but also to modernize production in accordance with the demands of the 21st century.
During Lukashenko's visit to Tbilisi, the previously planned agrarian vector of cooperation was confirmed. Today, 75% of the gross domestic product in Georgia consists of the agrarian production. In this regard, the parties consider the development of the trade and economic cooperation at the level of creating scientific centers for the needs of agriculture. In addition, Belarus can offer Georgian partners access to the market of the Eurasian Economic Union. Despite the fact that Tbilisi refrains from participating in integration projects where the Russian Federation is present, the possibility of selling Georgian goods in the EAEU area is not limited. In turn, Tbilisi can assist Belarusian enterprises wishing to gain a foothold in the European Union, thanks to the current agreement on Georgia's association with the EU.
The withdrawal of the republic from the CIS in 2009 was explained by a desire to break the political links, which Georgian parliamentarians consider hopeless. Now Baku remains the main partner of Tbilisi. Georgia is supporting Azerbaijan in the implementation of the global projects, such as the Trans Anatolian and Trans Adriatic gas corridors, Azerbaijan is actively investing in the development of the railway communication of Georgia. In the autumn of last year, the official opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway communication was held. Also, the railway station in the settlement of Akhalkalaki was opened.
Meanwhile, the character of the Georgian-Belarusian relations testifies that Tbilisi is ready to interact with all countries of the CIS space. The cooperation between Minsk and Tbilisi can also contribute to the normalization of the Russian-Georgian relations, thanks to Belarus’ mediation efforts. During his visit to Tbilisi, Lukashenko noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘took a second wind’ and is determined to find a common language with Georgia, but to achieve mutual understanding, the will of the Georgian leadership is needed to solve problems. Lukashenko expressed an optimistic forecast that problems can be solved soon.