National Identity and Foreign Policy

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
The purpose of this article is to determine the interaction between national identity and foreign political course, both in general and also specifically on the example of Georgia. National identity involves answers on questions such as: who are we? What is our function? Who are “ours” and who are “others”? The question arises thus: What is the role of national identity in the state's foreign political course? Since, national identity is the determining factor of foreign policy the question can be raised: What is the relationship between national identity and the national interests in foreign politics? It is evident that every country has its national interests and it depends on the place of the state in the international system, its power and strength, historical factors, economical potential, resources etc. The national interests of big states differ from the ones of small and weak countries. If the first one's interests often are hegemonic, the weak states main concerns are keeping sovereignty and territorial integrity. From Georgia's neighboring countries, the national identity of Russia is determined as “The third Rome”, “Messiah”, superpower, whose existence without the empire is impossible. This type of self-identification implies that it must have small and weak states under its influence and first of all, it should be post-soviet sphere. Its foreign policy goals also serve this purpose. Turkey has on a lesser scale but still hegemonic interests. After the end of the cold war, the nationalism of Atatürk, also known as “Turkism” is slowly shifting into Neo-ottomanism, which includes the leading role of Turkey in the states from the previous Ottoman Empire. Accordingly, the modern foreign policy of Turkey is a manifestation of this identity. The national identity of Azerbaijan, as a younger nation, was observed in two ways: Turkism (one nation, two states) and Azerbaijanism, whose significance lately has been growing stronger. The manifestation of the latter is Azerbaijan's balanced policy, but the strong roots of Turkism causes the recognition of Turkey as an older brother and as the main strategic partner of Azerbaijan. As for Armenia, its national identity is based on the perception of a distinctive and suffered nation. The national idea of restoring “Great Armenia'' put it in a difficult position. Today, the main national interest of Armenia is survival from hostile neighbors, which is guaranteed by Russia. Therefore, this explains Armenia's full dependence on Russia. Georgia's national identity is multifaceted. At first glance, Georgians are a separate nation, who doesn't have relative nations. Therefore, its foreign policy should be based on neutrality. On the other hand, Georgians first and foremost are Caucasians and its efforts should be directed to creating a Caucasian union, where it will have a leading role. According to other views, Georgia belongs to an Orthodox Christian civilization, therefore its political course should be directed towards the orthodox world. Ideas were expressed about Eurasianism of Georgia. In the case of Georgia, all of these ideas related to the connection between Georgian identity and its foreign policy are unacceptable. The first two because they are utopian, the rest because of evident Russian characteristics and incompatibility with Georgia's national interests. This path was simply not left for Georgia. Georgia‟s national interest, sovereignty and territorial integrity, progress, economic progress and democracy are possible and guaranteed only by close contact with the Western world. That is why Euro-Atlantic integration is the main foreign political interest of Georgia. However, how much is this related to Georgian national identity? Of course Georgians consider themselves more as Europeans rather than Asians, but self-identification as “real Europeans” or part of Western civilization is difficult. According to Huntington's vision, Georgians are a “torn nation” which belongs to one (Orthodox) civilization, but the political orientation is towards the second (Western) civilization. It is possible to say that Georgia‟s national interests define its Pro-Western political course, which in this case, can be less explained by Georgians European identity. In our opinion, we are dealing with the opposite event: Foreign political course affects national identity and Georgian national identity is being Europeanized.
National Identity, national interests, foreign policy