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Georgia today: New government, old conflicts2012-10-15 09:03
The composition of the new Georgian government is already known. It includes the politicians with a pretty good idea of the territorial debate with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The first statements are already made, and it is clear that Tbilisi will try to breathe new life into the settlement of long-standing conflicts. But this would be difficult. Old approaches and views are out of date, and new deputies will work in a very rapidly changing information environment.
Political analyst Paata Zakareishvili is one of those politicians who have and a decent background in various activities related to conflict resolution, as well as a lot of contacts on the "other side" of the barricade. But the first post-election interview with him, in which he had declared his readiness to any conversation except a call for recognition, has caused criticism from those with whom he was going to talk as a Minister for Reintegration.
The very first statements by the new Georgian government, which is the initiator of "unfreezing" relations, may devalue all theoretically possible achievements in the future.
The complexity of the work of the Georgian officials, who will be involved in the processes related to the settlement of conflicts, is that they need to find common ground with the opponents, and not to lose face - not to make statements inconsistent with the fundamental guidelines of the Georgian society against former autonomies.
It's very difficult to combine these things. Earlier, in the past years, the task was easier due to the lack of modern means of communication. They could set forth two different points of view on the issue in an interview with Georgian media, materials of which are not translated into other languages and not posted on the Internet, and in interviews, which can be read in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That is there existed diplomatic hypocrisy, which provided relative flexibility and balance.
But while Zakareishvili, as well as Guram Odisharia, Irakli Alasania and other Georgian scholars conflict experts were out of power, a lot has changed. At least there has appeared a completely new information environment and a completely different density of communication between ordinary people living on both sides of the border.
In short, a new attempt to initiate a dialogue between the parties will take place in a completely different reality, in an open information space with a completely different level of involvement of ordinary people.
Actually, the political dialogue may stop as soon as it starts. What is of Abkhazia and South Ossetia: the States or the "occupied territories with undefined status"? This issue does not exist for the national legislations of the two republics, the Constitutions of which begin with a definition of their status as independent states.
The new environment and new opportunities for dialogue require a new level of understanding of the conflict nature. And it's the first thing the new Georgian authorities must understand before negotiations. Since various myths and stereotypes inside social consciousness - this is a greater problem of Georgian society.
Georgia does not seriously consider opponents' thesis that "the state is not subject of bargaining". But the reality is that the state-building, regardless of the region, is a process based on very deep and important things for society. This is an attempt to build a life complying its social culture, to create own world and environment; an attempt to provide next generations with the continuity of their own cultural traditions. That is why the state-building is fundamental process, covering the whole of society.