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How will the echo from the US election reverberate in the Caucasus?2008-11-07 10:42
The US presidential election is undoubtedly the main news item of the week, and probably of the year. On the day of the vote the British newspaper The Guardian wrote: "The US election will influence everything: security in Afghanistan and Pakistan, trade with China and relations with Moscow". And it is logical to go on to say that a new script is possible in the Caucasus.
Today in his message to the Federal Assembly defining his country's foreign policy course for the coming year, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared that, "Russia will not back down in the Caucasus". So what can this region expect from the new landscape on the international arena?
There is of course not yet an unambiguous answer to this question. In Georgia many people regarded the US presidential election practically as a historical moment for their own country. Here people were backing the Republican John McCain to the last, more out of the principle that an opponent of Russia is our friend. "You can't imagine how important this (the US election - auth.) is for us," a journalist acquaintance from Georgia wrote to me. Myths have been circulating about the friendly relations between the "young Georgian reformer" Mikhail Saakashvili and 72-year old American Senator McCain. Hence Newsweek recently published an article entitled "Why McCain loves
As the authors note, Saakashvili is confident that his connections in Washington will make him impervious to criticism - in just a few years he has concentrated all power in his hands, has stopped listening to the opinions of his closest advisers and has practically neutralised the opposition by all permitted and unpermitted means. Saakashvili is almost McCain's closest friend among foreign leaders, the article points out. And it is no surprise that in a moment of crisis he turned to the Republican senator for help, writes the American magazine. According to sources within McCain's team, during the five day war he repeatedly spoke on the telephone with the Georgian president and promised his assistance in Washington's intention to apply political and diplomatic pressure onto Russia. "Stand firm. We won't allow this to happen... We are doing everything we can to stop this aggression," McCain assured his Georgian friend. Many people in Moscow and Tbilisi believe that it was precisely Washington's support and the hope for a strong friendly hand that brought about the military events in South Ossetia. In the opinion of some American politicians, Saakashvili deliberately plunged his country into a hopeless confrontation with Russia because he was trying to draw foreign powers into the conflict. In any event, relations between Georgia and Russia have been damaged to such an extent that "there is nowhere left to go". And the choice made by the American people has not entirely justified the hopes of the Georgian establishment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have already congratulated the black Democrat on his victory. In Georgia they have also had time to prepare for the new "landscape".
Saakashvili has commented on the presidential elections in the USA. According to him, the new occupant of the White House will support Georgia. And apparently Barack Obama has already closely formulated his theses on the country. One of those still left in the camp of the ruling majority, a close adviser to the Georgian president Giga Bokeria, who now occupies the post of Deputy Foreign Minister, confirmed the inviolability of Georgian-American friendship: