West yearning to please Moscow and Tbilisi12.05.2009 | 13:18
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer asked Mikheil Saakashvili to call the exercises held in Georgia correctly and not counter them with Russia. Simultaneously the US government got a recommendation from the Congress "to be friends" with both Moscow and Tbilisi. Insisting on provocative maneuvers the West tries to mitigate Russia's reaction.
The main activities of NATO "field games" in Georgia have not begun yet. Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 participants are having working meetings getting prepared for "field drills" to take place at Vaziani base on May 21. According to Georgia's Ministry of Defense the heavy equipment won't be applied.
In the meantime Russia, Georgia and NATO made "verbal maneuvers" on the subject. Moscow considers it imprudent to teach the art of war to the aggressor. It will be remembered a week before the attack on Tskhinval on July 15-31the US and Georgia's army units were having Immediate Response exercises. They turned to be "the final stage" of preparation for Clear Field operation in South Ossetia. Now it's history repeating.
Several countries decided against sending their militaries to Vaziani. Armenia refused at the last moment for NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's inadmissible stand on Nagorny Karabakh. The western diplomat believes the problem must be solved on the basis of territorial integrity recognition principle while the OSCE Minsk group declared three principles of international law: apart from integrity there is a nation's right to self-determination and non-use of force.
Nevertheless Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 is taking its course as scheduled which is very satisfying for official Tbilisi after the suppression of Mukhrovani military rebellion allegedly triggered by Russia: Moscow is left "holding the bag" and Georgia has demonstrated its worthiness to cooperate with the alliance. However NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer forbade Mikheil Saakashvili to misuse the exercise. He was "particularly displeased with statements made by Mr. Saakashvili on TV". It's wrong to refer to Cooperative Longbow 09 as NATO exercises for the maneuvers are within Partnership for Peace program comprising not only alliance members. "Nobody should interpret the exercises that began in Georgia incorrectly - they bear no relation either to NATO-Georgia connections, or NATO-Russia links, - de Hoop Scheffer emphasized.
No doubt the top officials of the alliance had foreseen the reaction of both Russia and Georgia to the organization of exercises but deliberately chose to aggravate NATO's and Georgia's relations with Moscow. "NATO exercises in Georgia give a wrong signal that will only intensify antagonism and disagreements", - Die Zeit weekly editor Theo Sommer warns in the article translated by Inopressa. "The White House new team should have foregone the plans to hold exercises", - the author of the commentary believes, - as NATO Commander-in-Chief is American after all. The only assumption is that Americans have pressed the wrong button searching for reset". According to the German observer's logic any actions towards expansion of the alliance push Russia to "show off muscles" that is why those who advocate independence and democracy in post-Soviet states must not irritate Moscow without cause. As for Georgia and Ukraine Theo Zommer is happy about delay in their accession to NATO: "Georgia and its authoritarian president, a demagogue and a war fan cannot be called democracy even with great reserve, and two thirds of people of Ukraine with its stumbling democracy are against the country's NATO membership at all".
Speaking about signals Russia's reaction to the exercises is a demonstration that it's not going to yield an inch of its geopolitical influence in the post-Soviet space. Those who refuse to admit this right cannot be Russia's partners. "NATO's steps are unreasonable. These are basically attempts to return to the "cold war", - State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov stated yesterday, Rosbalt reports. Because of the exercises in Georgia Russia cancelled meeting of the Russia-NATO Council on the level of chiefs of staff. The meeting between Foreign Ministers of these countries will neither take place on May 19.
At the same time Gryzlov remarked that Russia would not completely stop the dialogue with NATO. "In particular, the State Duma delegation will take part in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly international conference dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the alliance", - the speaker specified.
The USA that pulls NATO strings advises to support Georgian democracy not making Russia angry and assisting rapprochement between Moscow and Tbilisi. John F. Kerry, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and David Dreier, co-chairman of the House Democracy Assistance Commission came forward with this recommendation to the government in Washington Post.
"In a situation like this the USA must focus on areas that can deliver real benefits to Georgia without hurting ties to Russia", - the authors highlight. They propose to enhance USA-Georgia economic ties and introduce a resolution on a free-trade agreement with Georgia to the Congress to this end. Kerry and Dreier also hope trade between Georgia and Russia will resume. Economic prosperity supported by active trade links is the best way to encourage reconciliation between Georgia and Russia.