I am just back from Tbilisi in Georgia, where I received this unorthodox welcome from a Tbilisi-based academic. “You have heard of the end of the earth. Well this is it. We are the last outpost of western civilisation.” This is not the normal Georgian line. The usual spin is that Georgia is a central part of the west – and always has been – apart from unfortunate periods on invasion by Mongol hordes (Tamburlaine passed through on numerous occasions) – or incorporation into various incarnations of the Russian empire.
There is certainly no denying Georgia’s ancient Christian culture and its historic links to Europe. The question for the Georgians is whether all this history will help them achieve their dearest political and strategic wish – membership of Nato. Right now they are feeling a bit let down because they failed to get a “Membership Action Plan” at the recent Nato summit in Bucharest, although they did get a promise that they will be Nato members – some day. The Georgians think things are a bit more urgent than that, since the Russians are (according to them) rapidly consolidating their grip in the break-away Georgian territory of Abkhazia. Read more