Brexit: reactions in Georgia
Britain’s decision to leave the EU is particularly topical for Georgia, especially as it is looking forward to the EU’s vital decision on visa liberalization issue, to be taken in the upcoming months.
JAMnews has compiled a couple of interesting and divergent opinions in this regard:
Georgian experts and politicians about the Brexit
Ghia Nodia, a political analyst: British referendum has negative implications for Georgia in the short run: as the institution, the EU will be in the state of shock and it will not feel like dealing with others’ issues. Unlike the Great Britain (but like some continental nations), in Georgia, being a Eurosceptic means being a pro-Russian. Therefore, the latter will have much to talk about.
Russia is also at an advantage in this situation in the short run, since EU’s weakening makes Russia happy by default (another thing is, whether it strengthens Russia or not in the mid and long-term perspective).
If we look at it from broader perspective and more philosophically, this is the masses’ victory over the elites: Brexit has won a battle with the British elite’s consensus. The same trend (the elites’ struggle against elites’ consensus) could be observed in the leading western democracies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (e.g. Trump and Sanders phenomena are the manifestation of the masses’ revolt) Therefore, all that endangers the EU project, since it was the elites’ project against the masses right from its start.
Salome Zourabishvili, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia: The Great Britain is leaving Europe! It’s economy has lost 350billion within two hours (i.e. a sum that it would have to pay within 40 years to cover the EU costs. The financial loss is quite obvious.
But there is something more important: it’s a victory of selfish, recklessness, narrow-mindedness, fear and intolerance…Those, who think, it is possible either to return to the past or blind one’s eye on future challenges, or protect oneself from the global threats through isolation, are very wrong. Today, Britain has failed to face the reality and has given up on its future. Britain has turned into an island again.
Elene Khoshtaria, the United National Movement: Brexit will certainly cause a shake-up. Russia will try to deride it as ‘Europe’s weakening’. The nationalists will exult in a victory.
However, it should be taken into account, that:
- Britain was a particular case in the history of the EU’s development. It joined the EU only in 1973. In addition, it was not involved in the number of integration processes (single currency, Schengen)
- Brexit was not a ‘crazy’ anti-European process, managed by the radical nationalists. The mainstream parties and politicians were discussing some very pragmatic issues, focusing on the EU’s pros and cons (economy, investments, immigration…)
- Brexit has not made Great Britain oppose any of the European values, neither has it reverted its relations with Russia (unlike the nationalists’ slogans in France and other EU countries).
- It will be a serious signal for the EU to overcome major challenges (excess bureaucracy and regulations)
- Brexit is a historical event and the change, that provides many new opportunities for revitalizing and strengthening the European and Transatlantic family.
Giorgi Badridze, Ambassador of Georgia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: The negative outcome of the decision to withdraw from the European Union is already obvious and it will be bad for the Great Britain in the mid-term perspective. There are no guarantees that Britain will enjoy the advantages it is hopeful to receive after getting rid of the EU regulations.
As for the European Union, each problem, in turn, brings some opportunities, and if the EU makes use of them, then by the Great Britain’s withdrawal Georgia will lose an important supporter in the EU. However, on the other hand, the EU has a chance to take this referendum as a serious signal for launching the reforms, of course, if it has enough will for that. This could be the only positive way out. Otherwise, the EU will become weaker without the Great Britain. The centrist powers within it will get a new impulse. The Eurocritics have already voiced the idea of holding similar referenda in other countries. Russia will be the only country to benefit from this situation, unless there are some positive changes. Weakening of the EU and Great Britain is highly welcomed in Russia.
“We have woken up in a different epoch, Georgian Facebook users have been writing this since morning. #brexit hashtag has suddenly become extremely popular on Georgian social media.
Trend 1: “Europe would better wise up!
“An ice-cold shower to Merkel an the EU officials – the feral bureaucrats, who have done more harm to the EU idea that the open and most vigilant enemies of this establishment could do.
“With such a policy and bureaucracy, the EU didn’t have any prospects anyway. Let’s hope, they will wise up and change something.
“Let’s look at it from a positive perspective. Maybe the EU will forget about regulation of the cucumber size for a while.
“By the time we finally join it, there will be probably only Ukraine and Moldova in the EU and we will travel to each other visa-free.
“The EU means bureaucracy
“The British people are the founders of the world market economy. Consequently, they couldn’t get accustomed to the European bureaucratic, socialist system.
“Come to your sense, Europe! Through this policy the EU will throw Georgia and Ukraine into Russia’s chaps and will turn Turkey into an Islamic state.
Trend 2: “The number of Euroctics will increase and Russia will benefit from it
“The EU will no longer care for the countries like Georgia. It will take it years to overcome that skock.
“Here we go: they will start saying: “And that your EU? It doesn’t need even the Great Britain…
“And more boldly now”
“Russia feels itself the winner and that’s very dangerous both, for Georgia and the world..
“The Russian Mass Media is openly dreaming in its natural style about the British leaving the EU. Obviously there are a lot of reason…and also, it’s a common knowledge that they don’t care much for the British people’s problems either. Simply ‘the enemy should split, so that it could be easily conquered’ -it has always been a cherished dream of this media (and, certainly, of the leadership of this country).