On November 1st, 2018, The Citadel was honored to welcome Davit Bakradze, Georgia’s Ambassador to The United States. Mr. Bakradze talked about Georgia and a lot of their country’s ongoing issues. He spoke about topics like their desire to join NATO and the EU, their relationship with The United States, and their ongoing relationship with Russia.
Mr. Bakradze gave us a brief history of Georgia. He educated everyone on the history between Russia and Georgia and how they had been apart of the Russian Empire during the Czar era. He informed us that they became independent after the fall of The Russian Empire for a brief time. However, in 1921, the USSR invaded them and took over Georgia. For seventy years, The USSR reigned supreme over most of Eastern Europe including Georgia. After the fall of the USSR in 1991, Georgia immediately declared their independence and adopted much of their original constitution. Since then, the Russia-Georgia relationship has been filled with a lot of tension. The way they’ve tried to combat the threat of Russia is by joining NATO. Mr. Bakradze explained to us that because Georgia is on the border of Russia, Russia feels threatened by the potential of Georgia joining NATO. He told the audience that the 2008 Russia-Georgia Crisis has played a factor in how fast they’ll join NATO. He said that NATO does not want to get involved in a potential military confrontation with Russia, but the plan is still for Georgia to join NATO in the near future.
When Mr. Bakradze got around to questions, I felt the need to ask about him the current status of Georgia-U.S. Relations. What I asked him was how he felt the relationship was under The Trump Administration compared to The Obama Administration. He explained that Georgia has always enjoyed a good relationship with The United States. He told us that though he wasn’t serving in his current position as Ambassador during the Obama Administration, that he felt The Trump Administration had really taken steps to assist Georgia. Something interesting he stated was that as of us a few months ago, The U.S. has entered into a business partnership with Georgia so that Georgia can buy U.S. Military weaponry, and equipment. He also stated that though The United States help train Georgian military forces, that Georgia is taking steps to become more independent and less reliant on outside assistance. They want to improve their reputation and be taken more seriously on the world stage.
Something interesting that I really took away from this experience was how important it is to be educated upon world affairs. I did not know anything about the country Georgia before I went to hear Mr. Bakradze speak. I thought he was an extremely impressive individual who carried a lot of charisma. He was very intelligent in the way he conversed with the audience and his presence at The Citadel is something to be appreciated. I hope to see The Citadel host more people like Mr. Bakradze in the future.
-Cadet Grady Edwards