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Europe can’t hear Saakashvili2008-11-19 09:45
After defeat in the actual war with Russia, Georgia is also suffering a fiasco in the information war, as Georgian newspapers note with increasing frequency. The Russia-EU summit that took place in Nice on 14th November and the G-20 economic summit in Washington have only strengthened Moscow's position, while Saakashvili's latest PR attacks on Moscow, made just before these two summits of international importance, sounded like a lone voice crying in the wilderness.
Just before the Russia-EU summit Georgia's president went to Paris. He was pinning great hopes on the meeting with his friend Nicolas Sarkozy, who had stopped Russia's operation to force Georgia into peace just in time (the troops came to a stop 30 km from Tbilisi). Thanks to this the military passed on the right to defuse this tense situation to diplomats.
Four months later the Georgian authorities have been making no attempt to hide their disappointment at the actions of the French leader, who has recognized that Moscow has met the conditions of the peacekeeping plan in the South Caucasus and who has given the go-ahead to the resumption of talks between the EU and Russia. Furthermore Sarkozy recently refused a meeting with his friend Saakashvili because of his "incredibly busy schedule".
In the end the Georgian president's position has been weakened yet further. Not long before the summit, former OSCE officials Ryan Grist and Steven Yang wrote publications refuting the prevalent view in the West that little Georgia was the victim of big aggressive Russia. The aforementioned gentlemen, who witnessed the August events first hand, also confirmed in their official reports that the war was unleashed by Saakashvili, but that the West has been closing its eyes to this fact. Tbilisi, however, saw "Moscow's hand" in this.
At a press conference devoted to these unpleasant recognitions for the Georgians, the State Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili said: "Russia has allocated extremely large amounts of money to carry out campaigns against Georgia in the media, and its intelligence agencies have brought machinery for intimidation and blackmail into operation." He admittedly did make the reservation that he was not, apparently, claiming that Russia had paid for publications in The New York Times and other newspapers. "But there are questions concerning Mr. Grist and Mr. Yang..." So Saakashvili had to go to Paris for his meeting with Sarkozy while at the same time taking into account the new international climate, which has, however, had no impact on the Georgian president's rhetoric. On the eve of the meeting Georgia's leader gave an interview to the newspaper Le Figaro, in which he reiterated that, "he did not regret the decision which he took on 7th August, because all the Russian provocations over several months led to the war".
Speaking on the radio station France Inter, Saakashvili called for Europe "to understand quite clearly that once Russia decided to cross that line (of the August events), when it began to conquer other countries, it can't all stop just like that, it will continue".
The Georgian president repeated this at his meeting with Sarkozy, asking for Europe to carry on paying attention to Georgia. He called for his French colleague not to resume dialogue between the EU and Russia, and not to behave "as if nothing has happened".