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Georgia (country)

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Coordinates: 42°00′N 43°30′E / 42.000°N 43.500°E / 42.000; 43.500

Georgia
საქართველო
Sakartvelo
Motto: 
ძალა ერთობაშია
Georgian territory under central control in dark green; uncontrolled territory in light green
Georgian territory under central control in dark green; uncontrolled territory in light green
Capital
and largest city
Tbilisi
41°43′N 44°47′E / 41.717°N 44.783°E / 41.717; 44.783
Official languagesGeorgian
Recognised regional languagesAbkhaz[a]
Ethnic groups
(2014[a])
Religion
(2014)
  • 10.7% Islam
  • 1.2% Others / None[3]
Demonym(s)Georgian
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic
• President
Salome Zourabichvili
Irakli Garibashvili
Shalva Papuashvili
Legislature
The Tripartite division
1463–1810

12 September 1801

26 May 1918
25 February 1921
• Independence from the Soviet Union
 • Declared
 • Finalized


9 April 1991
26 December 1991
24 August 1995
.გე
Website
www.gov.ge
  1. ^ Data not including occupied territories.
  2. ^ Data including occupied territories.

Georgia (

transcontinental country at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is part of the Caucasus region, bounded by the Black Sea to the west, by Russia to the north and northeast, by Turkey to the southwest, by Armenia to the south, and by Azerbaijan to the southeast. The country covers an area of 69,700 square kilometres (26,900 sq mi), and has a population of 3.7 million people.[b][10] Tbilisi is its capital as well as its largest city, home to roughly a third of the Georgian population
.

During the

eventually disintegrated under the hegemony of various regional powers, including the Mongols, the Turks, and various dynasties of Persia. In 1783, one of the Georgian kingdoms entered into an alliance with the Russian Empire, which proceeded to annex the territory of modern Georgia
in a piecemeal fashion throughout the 19th century.

After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Georgia emerged as an independent republic under German protection.[11] Following World War I, Georgia was invaded and annexed by the Soviet Union in 1922, becoming one of its constituent republics. By the 1980s, an independence movement emerged and grew quickly, leading to Georgia's secession from the Soviet Union in April 1991. For most of the subsequent decade, post-Soviet Georgia suffered from economic crisis, political instability, ethnic conflict, and secessionist wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Following the bloodless Rose Revolution in 2003, Georgia strongly pursued a pro-Western foreign policy; it introduced a series of democratic and economic reforms aimed at integration into the European Union and NATO. The country's Western orientation soon led to worsening relations with Russia, which culminated in the Russo-Georgian War of 2008; Russia has since been occupying a portion of Georgia.

Georgia is a

unemployment. It was one of the first countries in the world to legalize cannabis, becoming the only former-socialist state to do so. The country is a member of international organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE, Eurocontrol, the EBRD, the BSEC, the GUAM, the ADB, the WTO, and the Energy Community
.

Etymology

"Georgia" on a medieval mappa mundi, AD 1320.

The first mention of the name

Arabic ĵurĵan/ĵurzan. Lore-based theories were given by the traveller Jacques de Vitry, who explained the name's origin by the popularity of St. George amongst Georgians,[16] while traveller Jean Chardin thought that Georgia came from Greek γεωργός ('tiller of the land'). Alexander Mikaberidze wrote that these century-old explanations for the word Georgia/Georgians are rejected by the scholarly community, who point to the Persian word gurğ/gurğān (گرگ, 'wolf'[17]) as the root of the word.[18] Starting with the Persian word gurğ/gurğān, the word was later adopted in numerous other languages, including Slavic and West European languages.[18][19] This term itself might have been established through the ancient Iranian appellation of the near-Caspian region, which was referred to as Gorgan ("land of the wolves").[18][20]

The native name is Sakartvelo (

Kartvelians'), derived from the core central Georgian region of Kartli, recorded from the 9th century, and in extended usage referring to the entire medieval Kingdom of Georgia by the 13th century. The self-designation used by ethnic Georgians is Kartvelebi (ქართველები, i.e. 'Kartvelians'), first attested in the Umm Leisun inscription found in the Old City of Jerusalem
.

The medieval

Iberians (Iberoi, Ἰβηροι in some Greek sources).[22] The Georgian circumfix sa-X-o is a standard geographic construction designating 'the area where X dwell', where X is an ethnonym.[23]

Today the official name of the country is Georgia, as specified in the Georgian constitution which reads "Georgia is the name of the state of Georgia."[24] Before the 1995 constitution came into force, the country's official name was the Republic of Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს რესპუბლიკა, romanized: Sakartvelos Resp'ublik'a). It is sometimes still referred to as the "Republic of Georgia" by people and the media.[25][26]

History

Claw foot of the royal throne and patera depicting emperor Marcus Aurelius uncovered near Mtskheta
, 2nd century AD.

Prehistory

The territory of modern-day Georgia was inhabited by

Shulaveri-Shomu culture.[30]

Antiquity

Mirian III
converted the nation to Christianity in the 4th century.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Georgia has been the

Iberia in the east. In Greek mythology, Colchis was the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius' epic tale Argonautica. The incorporation of the Golden Fleece into the myth may have derived from the local practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers.[33] In the 4th century BC, a kingdom of Iberia – an early example of advanced state organization under one king and an aristocratic hierarchy – was established.[34]

After the

Iberia (eastern Georgia), and was widely practised there.[41]

Middle Ages up to early modern period

Northwestern Georgia is home to the medieval defensive Svan towers of Ushguli and Mestia
.

Located on the crossroads of protracted Roman–Persian wars, the early Georgian kingdoms disintegrated into various feudal regions by the early Middle Ages. This made it easy for the remaining Georgian realms to fall victim to the early Muslim conquests in the 7th century.

Bagratid Iberia

The extinction of the

Iberian monarchy, remaining Georgian lands were divided among rival authorities, with Tbilisi remaining in Arab hands
.

Kingdom of Abkhazia

Bedia Chalice, a medieval Georgian goldsmithery dated c. 999, was commissioned by King Bagrat III for Bedia Cathedral
in Abkhazia.

An

Constantinople and recognized the authority of the Catholicate of Mtskheta; the Georgian language replaced Greek as the language of literacy and culture.[44][45] The most prosperous period of the Abkhazian kingdom was between 850 and 950. A bitter civil war and feudal revolts which began under Demetrius III (r. 967–975) led the kingdom into complete anarchy under the unfortunate king Theodosius III the Blind (r. 975–978). A period of unrest ensued, which ended as Abkhazia and eastern Georgian states were unified under a single Georgian monarchy, ruled by King Bagrat III of Georgia (r. 975–1014), due largely to the diplomacy and conquests of his energetic foster-father David III of Tao
(r. 966–1001).

United Georgian monarchy

The stage of feudalism's development and struggle against common invaders as much as common belief of various Georgian states had an enormous importance for spiritual and political unification of Georgia feudal monarchy under the Bagrationi dynasty in the 11th century.

The Kingdom of Georgia reached its zenith in the 12th to early 13th centuries. This period during the reigns of David IV (r. 1089–1125) and his great-granddaughter Tamar (r. 1184–1213) has been widely termed as Georgia's Golden Age or the Georgian Renaissance.[46] This early Georgian renaissance, which preceded its Western European analogue, was characterized by impressive military victories, territorial expansion, and a cultural renaissance in architecture, literature, philosophy and the sciences.[47] The Golden age of Georgia left a legacy of great cathedrals, romantic poetry and literature, and the epic poem The Knight in the Panther's Skin, the latter which is considered a national epic.[48][49]

David suppressed dissent of feudal lords and centralized the power in his hands to effectively deal with foreign threats. In 1121, he decisively defeated much larger Turkish armies during the Battle of Didgori and liberated Tbilisi.[50]

Queen Tamar, the first woman to rule medieval Georgia in her own right.[51]

The 29-year reign of Tamar, the first female ruler of Georgia, is considered the most successful in Georgian history.[52] Tamar was given the title "king of kings" (mepe mepeta).[51] She succeeded in neutralizing opposition and embarked on an energetic foreign policy aided by the downfall of the rival powers of the Seljuks and Byzantium. Supported by a powerful military élite, Tamar was able to build on the successes of her predecessors to consolidate an empire which dominated the Caucasus, and extended over large parts of present-day Azerbaijan, Armenia, and eastern Turkey as well as parts of northern Iran,[53] until its collapse under the Mongol attacks within two decades after Tamar's death in 1213.[54]

The revival of the Kingdom of Georgia was set back after Tbilisi was captured and destroyed by the

Black and White
sheep Turkomans constantly raiding its southern provinces.

Tripartite division

Vakhtang VI
was caught between rival regional powers.

The Kingdom of Georgia

Ottoman Turkey subjugated the eastern and western regions of Georgia, respectively.[56]

The rulers of regions that remained partly autonomous organized rebellions on various occasions. However, subsequent Iranian and Ottoman invasions further weakened local kingdoms and regions. As a result of incessant Ottoman–Persian Wars and deportations, the population of Georgia dwindled to 784,700 inhabitants at the end of the 18th century.[57] Eastern Georgia (Safavid Georgia), composed of the regions of Kartli and Kakheti, had been under Iranian suzerainty since 1555 following the Peace of Amasya signed with neighbouring rivalling Ottoman Turkey. With the death of Nader Shah in 1747, both kingdoms broke free of Iranian control and were reunified through a personal union under the energetic king Heraclius II in 1762. Heraclius, who had risen to prominence through the Iranian ranks, was awarded the crown of Kakheti by Nader himself in 1744 for his loyal service to him.[58] Heraclius nevertheless stabilized Eastern Georgia to a degree in the ensuing period and was able to guarantee its autonomy throughout the Iranian Zand period.[59]

In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, by which Georgia abjured any dependence on Persia or another power, and made the kingdom a protectorate of Russia, which guaranteed Georgia's territorial integrity and the continuation of its reigning Bagrationi dynasty in return for prerogatives in the conduct of Georgian foreign affairs.[60]

However, despite this commitment to defend Georgia, Russia rendered no assistance when the

punitive campaign subsequently launched against Qajar Iran in 1796, this period culminated in the 1801 Russian violation of the Treaty of Georgievsk and annexation of eastern Georgia, followed by the abolition of the royal Bagrationi dynasty, as well as the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Pyotr Bagration, one of the descendants of the abolished house of Bagrationi, would later join the Russian army and rise to be a prominent general in the Napoleonic wars.[62]

Within the Russian Empire

On 22 December 1800,

Bagrationi royal family was deported from the kingdom. The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Prince Kurakin.[67]

In May 1801, under the oversight of General Carl Heinrich von Knorring, Imperial Russia transferred power in eastern Georgia to the government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lazarev.[68] The Georgian nobility did not accept the decree until 12 April 1802, when Knorring assembled the nobility at the Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the Imperial Crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were temporarily arrested.[69]

In the summer of 1805, Russian troops on the Askerani River near

1804–13 Russo-Persian War and saved Tbilisi from reconquest now that it was officially part of the Imperial territories. Russian suzerainty over eastern Georgia was officially finalized with Iran in 1813 following the Treaty of Gulistan.[70] Following the annexation of eastern Georgia, the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti was annexed by Tsar Alexander I. The last Imeretian king and the last Georgian Bagrationi ruler, Solomon II, died in exile in 1815, after attempts to rally people against Russia and to enlist foreign support against the latter, had been in vain.[71]

From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars now against

Mingrelia, although a Russian protectorate since 1803, was not absorbed until 1867.[72]

Russian rule offered the Georgians security from external threats, but it was also often heavy-handed and insensitive. By the late 19th century,

Mensheviks
, who became the dominant political force in Georgia in the final years of Russian rule.

Declaration of independence

Noe Zhordania, Prime Minister of Georgia who was exiled to France
after the Soviet takeover

After the

Menshevik Social Democratic Party of Georgia won the parliamentary election and its leader, Noe Zhordania, became prime minister. Despite the Soviet takeover, Zhordania was recognized as the legitimate head of the Georgian Government by France, UK, Belgium, and Poland through the 1930s.[74]

The 1918

Georgian–Armenian War, which erupted over parts of disputed provinces between Armenia and Georgia populated mostly by Armenians, ended because of British intervention. In 1918–1919, Georgian general Giorgi Mazniashvili led an attack against the White Army led by Moiseev and Denikin in order to claim the Black Sea coastline from Tuapse to Sochi and Adler for the independent Georgia.[75] In 1920 Soviet Russia recognized Georgia's independence with the Treaty of Moscow. But the recognition proved to be of little value, as the Red Army led by Joseph Stalin invaded Georgia in 1921 and formally annexed it into the Soviet Union in 1922.[73]

Soviet Socialist Republic

In February 1921, during the

.

Joseph Stalin, an ethnic Georgian born Iosif Vissarionovich Jugashvili (იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი) in Gori, was prominent among the Bolsheviks.[77] Stalin was to rise to the highest position, leading the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death on 5 March 1953.

In June 1941,

invaded the Soviet Union on an immediate course towards Caucasian oil fields and munitions factories. They never reached Georgia, however, and almost 700,000 Georgians fought in the Red Army to repel the invaders and advance towards Berlin. Of them, an estimated 350,000 were killed.[78] The Georgian uprising on Texel
against the Germans was the last battle of the Second World War in Europe.

After Stalin's death, Nikita Khrushchev became the leader of the Soviet Union and implemented a policy of de-Stalinization. This was nowhere else more publicly and violently opposed than in Georgia, where in 1956 riots broke out upon the release of Khrushchev's public denunciation of Stalin, which had to be dispersed by military force.

Throughout the remainder of the Soviet period, Georgia's economy continued to grow and experience significant improvement, though it increasingly exhibited blatant corruption and alienation of the government from the people. With the beginning of perestroika in 1986, the Georgian Soviet leadership proved so incapable of handling the changes that most Georgians, including rank and file communists, concluded that the only way forward was a break from the existing Soviet system.

After restoration of independence

On 9 April 1991, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the

referendum held on 31 March.[79] Georgia was the first non-Baltic republic of the Soviet Union to officially declare independence.[80] In August 1991, Romania became the first country to recognize Georgia.[81]

On 26 May, Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected as the first President of independent Georgia. Gamsakhurdia stoked Georgian nationalism and vowed to assert Tbilisi's authority over regions such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia that had been classified as autonomous within the Georgian SSR.[82]

He was soon deposed in a

bloody coup d'état, from 22 December 1991 to 6 January 1992. The coup was instigated by part of the National Guards and a paramilitary organization called "Mkhedrioni" ("horsemen"). The country then became embroiled in a bitter civil war, which lasted until nearly 1994. Simmering disputes within two regions of Georgia; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, between local separatists and the majority Georgian populations, erupted into widespread inter-ethnic violence and wars.[82] Supported by Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia achieved de facto independence from Georgia, with Georgia retaining control only in small areas of the disputed territories.[82] Eduard Shevardnadze (Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1985 to 1991) returned to Georgia in 1992.[83]

During the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993), roughly 230,000 to 250,000 Georgians[84] were expelled from Abkhazia by Abkhaz separatists and North Caucasian volunteers (including Chechens). Around 23,000 Georgians fled South Ossetia as well.[85]

In 2003, Shevardnadze (who won re-election in 2000) was deposed by the Rose Revolution, after Georgian opposition and international monitors asserted that 2 November parliamentary elections were marred by fraud.[86] The revolution was led by Mikheil Saakashvili, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze, former members and leaders of Shevardnadze's ruling party. Mikheil Saakashvili was elected as President of Georgia in 2004.[87]

Following the Rose Revolution, a series of reforms were launched to strengthen the country's military and economic capabilities, as well as to reorient its foreign policy westwards. The new government's efforts to reassert Georgian authority in the southwestern autonomous republic of

crisis in 2004.[88]

The country's newly pro-Western stance, along with accusations of Georgian involvement in the

relations with Russia, fuelled also by Russia's open assistance and support to the two secessionist areas. Despite these increasingly difficult relations, in May 2005 Georgia and Russia reached a bilateral agreement[90] by which Russian military bases (dating back to the Soviet era) in Batumi and Akhalkalaki were withdrawn. Russia withdrew all personnel and equipment from these sites by December 2007[91] while failing to withdraw from the Gudauta base in Abkhazia, which it was required to vacate after the adoption of the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty during the 1999 Istanbul summit.[92]

Russo-Georgian War and since

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice holding a press conference with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili
during the Russo-Georgian War.

Tensions between Georgia and Russia began escalating in April 2008.[93][94] A bomb explosion on 1 August 2008 targeted a car transporting Georgian peacekeepers. South Ossetians were responsible for instigating this incident, which marked the opening of hostilities and injured five Georgian servicemen. In response,[95] several South Ossetian militiamen were killed by snipers.[96] South Ossetian separatists began shelling Georgian villages on 1 August. These artillery attacks immediately caused Georgian servicemen to return fire periodically.[93][96][97][98][99]

On 7 August 2008, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili announced a unilateral ceasefire and called for peace talks.[100] However, escalating assaults against Georgian villages (located in the South Ossetian conflict zone) were soon matched with gunfire from Georgian troops,[101][102] who then proceeded to move in the direction of the capital of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) on the night of 8 August, reaching its centre in the morning of 8 August.[103] According to Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer, the Ossetian provocation was aimed at triggering the Georgian response, which was needed as a pretext for premeditated Russian military invasion.[104] According to Georgian intelligence,[105] and several Russian media reports, parts of the regular (non-peacekeeping) Russian Army had already moved to South Ossetian territory through the Roki Tunnel before the Georgian military action.[106]

Russia accused Georgia of "aggression against South Ossetia",

Abkhaz forces opened a second front on 9 August by attacking the Kodori Gorge held by Georgia.[108] Tskhinvali was seized by the Russian military by 10 August.[109] Russian forces occupied Georgian cities beyond the disputed territories.[110]

During the conflict, there was a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Georgians in South Ossetia,[111] including destruction of Georgian settlements after the war had ended.[112] The war displaced 192,000 people,[113] and while many were able to return to their homes after the war, a year later around 30,000 ethnic Georgians remained displaced.[114] In an interview published in Kommersant, South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said he would not allow Georgians to return.[115][116]

European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia was dispatched to the buffer areas.[120] Since the war, Georgia has maintained that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are occupied Georgian territories.[121][122] Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Georgia has topped the list of countries which Russian exiles departed to after the war began; Russians are allowed to stay in Georgia for at least one year without a visa, though many Georgians view the presence of more Russian citizens in Georgia as a security risk.[123]

Government and politics

Salome Zourabichvili at the Enthronement of Naruhito (1).jpg
Irakli Garibashvili 2013. 2 (cropped).jpg
Salome Zurabishvili
President
Irakli Garibashvili
Prime Minister

Georgia is a

Irakli Gharibashvili
has been the Prime Minister of Georgia.

Legislative authority is vested in the Parliament of Georgia. It is unicameral and has 150 members, known as deputies, of whom 30 are elected by plurality to represent single-member districts, and 120 are chosen to represent parties by proportional representation. Members of parliament are elected for four-year terms. On 26 May 2012, Saakashvili inaugurated a new Parliament building in the western city of Kutaisi, in an effort to decentralize power and shift some political control closer to Abkhazia.[125] Saakashvili's rivals, who came to power later in 2012, never truly accepted the move to Kutaisi and six years later Parliament returned to its old location in Tbilisi after adapting the constitutional clause.[126]

Different opinions exist regarding the degree of political freedom in Georgia. Saakashvili believed in 2008 that the country is "on the road to becoming a European democracy."[127] Freedom House lists Georgia as a partly free country (2008[128]), recognizing a trajectory of democratic improvement surrounding the 2012–13 transfer of power, yet observing a gradual backslide in later years.[129]

Recent political developments

Parliament of Georgia is a supreme national legislature for the country. The executive power is vested in the office of a Prime Minister, but is accountable only before the parliament, as the president of a country is a ceremonial head of state.[130]

In preparation for the 2012 parliamentary elections, Georgia implemented constitutional reforms to switch to a parliamentary democracy, moving executive powers from the President to the Prime Minister.[131] The transition was set to start with the October 2012 parliamentary elections and to be completed with the 2013 presidential elections.

Against the expectations of the then ruling

parliamentary elections in October 2012, bringing an end to nine years of UNM rule and marking the first peaceful, electoral, transfer of power in Georgia. President Saakashvili acknowledged the defeat of his party on the following day.[132] Georgian Dream was founded, led and financed by tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, the country's richest man who was subsequently elected by parliament as new Prime Minister.[133] Due to the incomplete transition to parliamentary democracy, a year of uneasy cohabitation between rivals Ivanishvili and Saakashvili followed until the October 2013 presidential elections.[134][135]

In October 2013, Giorgi Margvelashvili, a candidate of the Georgian Dream party, won the presidential election. Margvelashvili succeeded president Mikheil Saakashvili, who had served the maximum of two terms since coming to power after the bloodless 2003 "Rose Revolution".[136] However, the new constitution made the role of president largely ceremonial. With the completed transfer of power, Prime Minister Ivanishvili stepped aside and named one of his close business associates as next Prime Minister.[137] Ivanishvili has since been called the informal leader of Georgia, arranging political reappointments from behind the scenes.[138]

In October 2016, the ruling party Georgian Dream won the parliamentary elections with 48.61 percent of the vote while the opposition United National Movement (UNM) gained 27.04 percent of the vote.[139] Most of Georgian Dream's coalition parties had left the coalition and landed outside of parliament. As result of the mixed proportional-majoritarian system, with a threshold of 5% for the proportional vote and redefined majoritarian districts, only four parties entered parliament, with the Georgian Dream party gaining a constitutional majority of 77% (+36 seats). This electoral imbalance became a key issue of political and civil society strife in the following years.[140][141][142] After international mediation to overcome the deep political crisis in the runup to the 2020 parliamentary elections an amended electoral system was adopted, specifically for the 2020 elections.[143]

Meanwhile, Salome Zurabishvili won the 2018 presidential election in two rounds, becoming the first woman in Georgia to hold the office in full capacity after Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze held the office as female interim President twice, in 2003 and 2007. Zurabishvili was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party. It was the last direct election of a Georgian president, as additional constitutional reforms removed the popular vote.[144]

On 31 October 2020, the ruling Georgian Dream again led by Bidzina Ivanishvili secured over 48% of votes in the parliamentary election under a different electoral system. 120 parliamentary seats were elected through proportional vote while 30 seats were elected through single mandate majoritarian constituencies. The threshold for the proportional vote was lowered to 1%, which resulted in 9 parties being represented in parliament. As largest faction, having secured 90 out of 150 seats, Georgian Dream formed the country's next government and continued to govern alone. The opposition made accusations of fraud, which the Georgian Dream denied. Thousands of people gathered outside the Central Election Commission to demand a new vote.[145] This led to a new political crisis that was (temporarily) resolved with an EU brokered agreement,[146] from which the Georgian Dream later withdrew.[147]

In February 2021, Irakli Garibashvili became Prime Minister of Georgia, following the resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia.[148] Garibashvili, who had an earlier term as prime minister in 2013–15, is known as a political hardliner.[149]

On 1 October 2021, former President Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested on his return from exile. Saakashvili led the country from 2004 to 2013 but was later convicted in absentia on corruption charges and abuse of power, which he denied.[150]

Foreign relations

Pro-NATO poster in Tbilisi

Georgia maintains good relations with its direct neighbours Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, and is a member of the United Nations, the

The explicit western orientation of Georgia, deepening political ties with the US and European Union, notably through its EU and NATO membership aspirations, the US Train and Equip military assistance programme, and the construction of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline, have frequently strained Tbilisi's relations with Moscow. Georgia's decision to boost its presence in the coalition forces in Iraq was an important initiative.[163] The European Union has identified Georgia as a prospective member,[164] and Georgia has sought membership.[165]

Georgia is currently working to become a full member of

NATO. In August 2004, the Individual Partnership Action Plan of Georgia was submitted officially to NATO. On 29 October 2004, the North Atlantic Council of NATO approved the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) of Georgia, and Georgia moved on to the second stage of Euro-Atlantic Integration. In 2005, the agreement on the appointment of Partnership for Peace (PfP) liaison officer between Georgia and NATO came into force, whereby a liaison officer for the South Caucasus was assigned to Georgia. On 2 March 2005, the agreement was signed on the provision of the host nation support to and transit of NATO forces and NATO personnel. On 6–9 March 2006, the IPAP implementation interim assessment team arrived in Tbilisi. On 13 April 2006, the discussion of the assessment report on implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan was held at NATO Headquarters, within 26+1 format.[166] The majority of Georgians and politicians in Georgia support the push for NATO membership.[167]