The Soviet and Gamsakhurdia Periods

The Soviet and Gamsakhurdia Periods

Soviet policy effectively cut traditional commercial and diplomatic links to Turkey, which became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ( NATO) in 1952, and to Iran, a United States ally until the late 1970s. Instead, virtually all transportation and commercial links were directed to Russia and the other Soviet republics. The same redirection occurred with diplomatic ties, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union controlled. Shevardnadze's presence as Soviet foreign minister from 1985 to 1990 provided little direct benefit to Georgia aside from the large number of highranking guests who visited the republic in that period. That group included Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and United States Secretary of State George Shultz.

Under Gamsakhurdia Georgia's efforts to break out of the diplomatic isolation of the Soviet period were stymied by the reluctance of the outside world to recognize breakaway republics while the Soviet Union still existed. Romania, which granted recognition in August 1991, was one of the few countries to do so during the Gamsakhurdia period. Several Georgian delegations came to the United States in 1991 in an effort to establish diplomatic ties, but Washington largely ignored those efforts. Given stable internal conditions, the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late 1991 would have released Georgia from its isolation, but by that time the revolt against Gamsakhurdia was in full force. After the violent overthrow of Gamsakhurdia, other governments were reluctant to recognize the legitimacy of his successors. This situation changed in March 1992, when the internationally prominent Shevardnadze returned to Georgia and became chairman of the State Council.

In 1992 and 1993, United States aid to Georgia totaled US$224 million, most of it humanitarian, placing Georgia second in per capita United States aid among the former Soviet republics. In September 1993, Shevardnadze appealed directly to the United States Congress for additional aid. At that time, President William J. Clinton officially backed Shevardnadze's efforts to maintain the territorial integrity of Georgia. Reports of human rights offenses against opposition figures, however, brought United States warnings late in 1993 that continued support depended on the Georgian government's observance of international human rights principles.

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