On 19 October 2020, Tbilisi-based think-tank “Geocase” had an honor to host a webinar - “Israel-UAE Diplomatic Breakthrough and its Impact for the Middle East and South Caucasus” moderated by Victor Kipiani, Geocase Chair. The event aimed to discuss key issues around new diplomatic deals for normalization of the relations between Israel and UAE, as well as Bahrain. The webinar speakers, H.E. Ran Gidor (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Israel to Georgia), Emil Avdaliani (Non-resident Fellow, Geocase) and Vakhtang Charaia (Head of TSU Center for Analysis and Forecast) examined the implications of the current developments on regional stability and prosperity in the Middle East at large and on the South Caucasus.
On August 13 Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that they planned to normalize relations. The agreement involves establishing diplomatic relations between the two Middle East states. In September normalization of relations with Bahrain also followed. The agreements mark the latest series of Israel signing diplomatic agreements with Arab nations after reaching similar deals with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. The new deals open the way for other potential agreements on advancing business relations, direct flights, scientific cooperation, and full diplomatic ties at the ambassadorial level.
These two events have region-wide repercussions ranging from the US foreign policy in the Middle East to Arab states’ position to Iran’s weakened diplomatic stance. Therefore, webinar participants responded to the following questions: How the recent diplomatic deals affect Israel-Palestine relations and, more broadly, the Middle East? Is this the beginning of a new round of peacemaking in the Arab world? How this affects Iran’s position in the region? What is the impact of the diplomatic breakthrough in for the South Caucasus region?
With the regard to the U.S. role and support in the region, Victor Kipiani addressed Georgian policy-makers and implied that “for addressing the existing problems in an innovative way, in resolute manner there should be no path dependences and when we speak about path dependence, we clearly realize what that means. The direct talks and direct contacts always matter, and the Israeli case shows how much those are. Israel’s example also shows us that innovative approach and leadership matters. And we, as small nation should always remember how important a bipartisan (from U.S.) support is.”
In closing remarks on the matters of experience exchange for the South Caucasus region, speakers have shared mostly optimistic opportunities. H.E. Ran Gidor admitted he wished for Israel to have such regional “harmony” with neighbors, as Georgia has with three of its neighbors, and even with the absence of diplomatic relations with Russia, the country never stops its touristic and commercial traffic. Additionally, Ambassador stressed out the significance of multilateral relations: “recent events, post Covid-19 diplomacy have shown us clearly that the only way to move forward is to join hands and inject more resources in multilateral organizations such as UN, WTO, WHO, EU, because only concerted action could provide to the effective solution of the challenges that are not unique for one country but to the International world.”
Emil Avdaliani summarized US diplomacy’s regional impact in his speech. “To put this diplomatic breakthrough not only in a regional but also in a global context, I believe that this great recalibration of US policy in the Middle East, particularly from the Middle East into the pacific region, once again shows how fundamental as well as instrumental US diplomacy is for the region overall.”
Vakhtang Charaia congratulated all participants of negotiation for successful final results and wished this success to be also shared by Georgia. “I believe sooner, or later Georgia will be the major player of the region if Georgia will have enough support from the strategic partners, Georgia will start a new level.”
The webinar participants highlighted the importance of the UAE and Israel successful negotiation for the regional stability and wished this kind of accomplishments for Georgian diplomacy.
Watch the webinar here