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Pragmatism makes face the truth28.12.2009 | 17:07
A number of analysts registered new tendencies in Tbilisi-Moscow relations denominating them as "pragmatic". That is why Russian FM Sergey Lavrov's recent speech that Moscow is still certain about Tbilisi's revanchist intentions aroused bewilderment on the banks of the Kura river. Modernization has nothing to do with revanchism. Is that so?
Recently Russian FM Sergey Lavrov stated that Georgia "represents a threat to peace and security in the region. It is a threat that has once led to a real war". Today, the minister remarked with emphasis, speaking on the results of the extended session of State Duma International Affairs committee, Russia is doing its best for these things not to happen again.
Russian FM expressed regret over continued revanchist statements by Mikheil Saakashvili. "His recent article in US media directly states that Georgia must actively restore its army and "try" it in military operations since it will not be used "for parade". It's very disappointing that Western "sponsors" of the current regime that as we hoped made conclusions on August 2008 keep assisting in Georgian army restoration as if nothing had happened", - Sergey Lavrov stated.
Certainly it could not be forgotten in Smolenskaya square that Mikheil Saakashvili "once raised his hand against people of South Ossetia whom he believed citizens of Georgia, and this was not merely a physical murder".
Referring to the explosion of the Glory Memorial to the WWII warriors in Kutaisi on December 19 Sergey Lavrov thinks it was "a symbolic attack on the perished in the war including 200 thousand Georgians. "The nature of this man (Mikheil Saakashvili) must be clear now, I guess", - the Russian minister summed up.
Georgian politicians were offended by Sergey Lavrov's speech. Georgia's aim is to upgrade the armed forces to the NATO standards, not the military revenge. "This is a demagogic statement", - Rosbalt quotes David Darchiashvili, chairman of parliamentary committee on defense and security of Georgia.
He believes the purpose of Lavrov's statement is "mispresentation of reality". "As a sovereign state Georgia has the right to think and take care of its own independence and territorial integrity. This is not revanchism at all", - Darchiashvili explained.
Nikoloz Laliashvili, deputy chairman of opposition Christian-Democratic faction specified that "after such disastrous aftermath of August the army is rising to its feet, modernization of armed forces is underway, and crucial segments are almost compliant with NATO standards". Laliashvili assured he was "far from thinking that somebody in Georgia, its leaders or political elite is planning revenge".
But as the saying goes the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Before the August aggression Saakashvili swore he would never resort to military force.
However Sergey Lavrov's emphasis is symbolic: Russia has never cut its ties with Georgian people and deeply empathizes with the situation they are in now. There is hope in Moscow that Georgia will have authorities that will meet interests of Georgian people and "that these people deserve".
An illustration to his words is the dialogue with Georgia's opposition figures which is a definite fact now. Over past two months Zurab Nogaideli, Georgian ex PM, now Movement for Fair Georgia leader, has come to Moscow four times. His every visit was marked by a step forward in settling bilateral relations between Russia and Georgia.
However Nogaideli's latest visit, as he says, was less successful, despite the meeting with Russian PM Vladimir Putin. He failed to agree upon resumption of air communication between two countries with the Russian side. "The reason was the Glory Memorial explosion in Kutaisi on December 19", - Nogaideli said remarking that Saakashvili was building his relations on ruining - not on creating, Trend News reports from Tbilisi.
Nevertheless, what's been done over this short period is quite impressive. Yesterday the agreement on Kazbegi-Upper Lars checkpoint opening was reported to take place on March 1. This is the only land overpass between Russia and Georgia which has been closed for the last three years. In the meantime Tbilisi started selling charter flights to Moscow though official agreement on resumption of air communication has not been reached yet.
According to James Wertsh, a US politologist with Washington University in Saint Louis, development of Russian-Georgian relations will most probably continue in two-steps-forward-one-step-back manner, Voice of America reports. He thinks the tentative progress - eventual border opening and resumption of flights - reflect ongoing debates in both capitals. "I think there are people in Russian and Georgian governments who long for easing of tensions", - Wertsh said. - I'm sure there are people in Moscow and Tbilisi who are not interested in that".
On the whole however James Wertsh believes that Russia's and Georgia's movement toward each other must be favored. Ex US Ambassador to Russia James Collins agrees with that. In a short interview with the Voice of America Russian Service he favored Moscow's and Tbilisi's "pragmatic steps" remarking there are lots of unresolved issues between the sides.