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The impact of Orthodoxy on Georgia's geopolitics ^ | Wednesday, October 13, 2004 | The Messenger

Posted on 10/17/2004 8:33:05 PM PDT by Destro

Wednesday, October 13, 2004, #195 (0719)

The impact of Orthodoxy on Georgia's geopolitics

There is growing attention being paid to the role of Christian Orthodoxy in the formation of a country's geopolitics. This has become particularly important for Georgia, as it impacts on the country's relations with Russia and the West.

Most of the Orthodox Christian countries experienced a very similar fate during the 20th century. For much of the last one hundred years Orthodox Christians were persecuted in Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Russia and Belarus by the communist, atheist regime.

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of communist rule, all these now sovereign nations have had to forge a new politics and new relations with the international community, and all have experienced a resurgence of Orthodox belief which has necessarily impacted on their political orientation.

Particularly in Russia, the new administration tries actively to use its Orthodoxy to achieve its geopolitical goals. In their book, Russian analysts Alexandre Dugin and Alexandre Panarin identify Christian Orthodoxy as the essence of Russia's geopolitics.

They argue that Russian Orthodox Christianity is, on the one hand, considered a factor which could help Russia to achieve a domineering role in its formal spheres of influence, while on the other hand, Russian analysts are afraid lest Orthodox Christianity become the primary factor influencing Russia policy; which could cause serious internal problems for Russia as well as in the international arena.

The NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999 was a test for Russian Orthodox geopolitics. In this period the Russian mass media repeatedly argued that this war against Yugoslavia was merely a repetition of the centuries long controversy between Western and Eastern Christianity.

Russian politicians and analysts believed that the Yugoslav conflict should have woken up the Orthodox world, thus separating it even more deeply from the Western world and as a result uniting it around Russia.

Within the Orthodox geopolitics of Russia there is a significant place for Georgia, and this reinforces the belief that Georgia should separate from the West and turn back and integrate into Russia's military, political and economic space.

In Georgia, Christian Orthodox geopolitics has not yet become a special interest for analysts' research, although it is beginning to attract some attention. Nevertheless, two broad tendencies can be viewed.

On the one hand, there are some supporters of the Russian Orthodox view that Russia is the leader of the Orthodox Christian world and that other Orthodox countries should unite behind it in confronting Western Christianity. Such supporters frequently quote the phrase of the well-known American political analyst Zbigniew Brzezinski that after eliminating communism the major threat to the West is Christian Orthodoxy. These Russian-leaning supporters understand Georgia's current pro-West orientation as a threat to the national identity of the country.

On the other hand, however, many Georgians consider it absolutely unacceptable to exercise Orthodox solidarity as a political argument. They associate the communist attack on religion with rule by Moscow, and more specifically point to Russia's centuries-long policy of putting pressure on Georgian religion, and attempt to eradicate Georgian Orthodoxy in favor of Russian Orthodoxy.

Indeed, some cite the defacing of the Georgian fresco of Shota Rustaveli in the now Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Valley of the Cross in Jerusalem as evidence that there can never be true solidarity between Orthodox churches.

The attempt to promote this Orthodox solidarity, because it entails a pro-Russia orientation, has led some analysts to see Georgian Orthodoxy as actually holding back the country from greater Western its integration.

This lack of consensus suggests that Georgia is far from elaborating an accepted conception of its post-Soviet identity and orientation, and the place within this of the Orthodoxy. The need for such a conception, which focuses primarily on Georgia's long-term national interests has become urgent, particularly at a time when the country is seeking to restore its territorial integrity, because without the country cannot develop a meaningful, unified foreign policy.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS: caucasus; georgia; orthodoxy; russianorthodox

1 posted on 10/17/2004 8:33:06 PM PDT by Destro
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To: Destro
Such supporters frequently quote the phrase of the well-known American political analyst Zbigniew Brzezinski that after eliminating communism the major threat to the West is Christian Orthodoxy.

What is the source of Brzezinski's statement?

2 posted on 10/23/2004 5:41:12 PM PDT by stripes1776
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