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Aggressive rhetoric managed to be avoided2009-02-11 10:05
The security conference in Munich took place from 6 to 8 February. The main topics of discussion were relations between Russia and NATO, as well as the situation in the South Caucasus.
This year more than 300 politicians from 50 countries came to Munich. The visit of the new American Vice-President Joe Biden was awaited with enormous interest, because he was given the task of informing the alliance of Barack Obama's position. In his speech Biden tried to lift the tension that had accumulated recently and called on Russia to enter into dialogue.
"The time has come to press the "restart" button," he was quoted by the BBC, "and once again look to the various spheres where we can and must work together. The USA does not accept the point of view which says that a victory for NATO is a defeat for Russia, and Russia's strength is NATO's weakness."
In the opinion of the new American vice-president, the acute phase of confrontation between Moscow and the alliance, "at least, in its external manifestation", has passed. The USA and Russia can work together, in particular, to normalize the situation in Afghanistan.
However, Biden made it clearly understood that the USA was by no means intending to show sympathy towards Russia on everything: "We won't be able to agree on all questions," the Regnum news agency quotes him. "In particular, the USA will never recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. We won't resign ourselves to the fact that any state can have spheres of influence. Our views in this respect are immutable."
Obama's administration had already expressed its concern over "spheres of influence" in an official statement on the eve of the Munich conference. As Gazeta.ru reports, "Moscow's plans to establish its own military facilities on Georgian territory" were criticized (meaning the bases in the Abkhazian towns of Gudauta, Ochamchira and Bombora - A.G.). It is obvious that Moscow and Washington will really not come to an agreement over the South Caucasus. For now, at least. This was made clear by first Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov, who was representing the Russians at the conference and declared firmly that Russia would be taking a hard line on the South Caucasus.
"The decision to recognize the independence of these two states," Rosbalt cites Ivanov, "to establish small military bases there in order to prevent a further- fifth or sixth attempt by Georgia to solve this problem with military force - these decisions will not be reconsidered."
It should be noted specifically that Georgia was not given the opportunity to make a comment in Munich.