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A bitter pill for Tbilisi2010-08-25 17:34
After Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Armenia, representatives of the regional expert community started talking about the Russian diplomats' new victory. As a result of the signed agreements, Russian military presence became the dominant force in the issue of safety control in the South Caucasus. Now Georgia may only reckon upon its short-term allies that are getting fewer in number.
President of Russia left Armenia with a feeling that he has fulfilled his duty: a whole number of documents was signed in Yerevan, the most important of which is the agreement on extending the term of the Russian military base presence in Gumri. The base is operational in the context of the CIS United Air Defense System and is equipped with C-300 ADMS and MiG-29 destroyers. On the whole, there are about five thousand Russian servicemen in Gumri. In the course of negotiations between Dmitry Medvedev and Serge Sargsyan, the heads of the states arrived at a decision that the term of the agreement confirming the legitimacy of location of the RF Armed Forces base in the territory of Armenia will be extended from 25 to 49 years.
Thus, Russia has enforced its positions in the region and one cannot say it has signed the agreement hastily. Just remember the problems entailed by negotiations on extending the lease term for the locations of the Black Sea fleet in Crimea: the parties managed to achieve the necessary agreements only when the openly anti-Russian President Yushchenko resigned. Now, at least, until the middle of the century, Russian servicemen will be present both on the Black Sea and in the South Caucasus: one should not forget about the RF Armed Forces bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Dmitry Medvedev made an important step in positioning Russia as one of the major moderators of the dialogue around the Nagorny Karabakh problem. Final statements will be made after the coming visit of the Russian president to Azerbaijan; however, it is already clear that neither Turkey, nor the USA, nor the OSCE Minsk group as it is, are able to bring closer the opposing parties of the conflict. As for Medvedev, he gets the chance to diminish the danger of a large-scale armed conflict related to NKR to the minimum within two months. His visit to Armenia has already made it clear that the recently resumed militant rhetoric from Baku and Yerevan finds no response in Russia and it is necessary to continue seeking a peaceful way out of the situation.
Unlike Dmitry Medvedev, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili is hardly satisfied with a diplomat and negotiator's success. So far, the Georgian leader is hurling all efforts into recovering the ridiculous idea of reviving GUAM. Mikheil Nikolozovitch must have found a four-leaved clover - there is no other explanation to the sound compensation of the loss of Victor Yushchenko in the person of Moldavian leader Mihai Ghimpu. Having made up a perfect duet with Ghimpu against Russia, Saakashvili began active promotion of the revival of a stillborn union between Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldavia. There were rumours that almost half of the CIS and East Europe countries are ready to join the association; still, one can hardly believe the reality of such turn of events. Rather, Kiev displays no desire to deal with GUAM after Victor Yanukovitch's coming to power and Azerbaijan is much more interested in friendly relationship with Russia; besides, Moldavia is also likely to swing the policy soon: Mihai Ghimpu is losing support not only among the people but among his political associates as well. Thus, GUAM may soon be reduced to just "G".