ABSTRACT

Relations between Iran and Georgia have been intensifying over the past decade. Overall, the two countries are far from being top partners economically, politically or culturally. This chapter focuses on one particular aspect of their relations: the potential for Iran's religious links to grow and be used in the context of soft power. Georgia has been relatively open to Iran in terms of free movement of people and capital, unlike other Western and Western-oriented states. As Iran attempts to overcome its international isolation and the economic damage caused by decades of sanctions, it may be interested in intensive engagement with Georgia. The historically strong relations between Georgia and Iran have been scanty for quite some time. For now, Georgia's image as an open, liberal haven seems to be one stable aspect of the relations between Georgia and Iran. While general public may not be particularly eager for intensive cultural relations with Iran, Georgia's ethnic Azeri minority may be an exception.