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Will Russia untie Caucasian knot?20.01.2010 | 17:29
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree stipulating unification of seven regions of Russia into North Caucasian federal district that will comprise Stavropol Territory, the Chechen republic, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia and the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania. The center of the federal district will be Pyatigorsk. President's plenipotentiary representative in the region will be Krasnoyarsk Territory governor Alexander Khloponin, also appointed a Vice PM. Will these steps help to solve North Caucasian issues?
GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed that with politologists and representatives of Transcaucasian republics
What do you think of North Caucasian Federal District creation?
Vladimir Anokhin, Vice president of Academy of Geopolitical Problems
I guess it will do good to Russia's territorial structure since formerly in Southern Federal District there was a complex of various interests that didn't interface because of differences in mentality. Now judging by the problems in North Caucasus there is a possibility of solving a number of issues: employment, clan system and corruption.
Konstantin Sivkov - first vice president of Academy of Geopolitical problems
I guess this is right. The decision is connected with a specific situation in North Caucasus - current political aggravation and expected aggravation. That is why a special district was set up. Considering ethnocultural, economic, political and spiritual peculiarities this is the right thing to do.
Is Khloponin a suitable figure for this post since recently Kozak or Sechin were discussed as possible nominees?
I don't quite see how Khloponin will find his way about the problems in Caucasus; a special mentality is needed here. He really is good at doing business, but the question is whether Khloponin will be able to pursue an efficient policy to solve the accumulated problems. This is a land issue in Kabardino-Balkaria, and relationships issue in Karachayevo-Cherkessia not to speak of Chechnya. This is a very tricky issue and I rather doubt Khloponin will tackle it. As for Kozak, he did no harm in Southern Federal District. Neither did he do any good. In my view Sechin is the most appropriate candidate given his experience, personal background and characteristics.
This federal district needs a man able to solve all kinds of crisis issues - economic, political and ethnocultural. Alexander Khloponin, in my opinion, is not an expert at solving Caucasian issues. Probably Kozak would be a better candidate. As for Sechin, as far as I know, he has a high position at the moment, he is in charge of defense issues. He should have been appointed there. On the whole now I don't see any people able to untie the Caucasian knot.
What is the outlook for relations between Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in this context?
Relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia won't change though certainly South and North Ossetias are closely interrelated. The activities of central authorities will be more targeted and there will be understanding how these two republics should be coordinated.
Relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia will grow and get closer due to two factors: firstly Russia provides the young republics with security guarantees and secondly Moscow needs Tskhinval-Sukhum cooperation to make its own borders safer. If the territories pass under control of Georgia's pro-US government, essentially anti-Georgian, this will lead to drastic destabilization in Ingushetia, Chechnya and Kabardino-Balkaria.
Nonetheless, despite Russia's cooperation with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in future I foretell aggravation in North Caucasus considering US interest in yielding a result from their foreign policy. Americans have lost in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Their war in South Ossetia was lost too: the Georgian elite initiated the war in August 2008 on order from Washington. In my view the United States will continue to heat up the situation in North Caucasus to drag Russia into local shootouts and solve problems in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in a military way.
Felix Stanevsky, head of Caucasus department with CIS Countries Institute
If North Caucasus gets stable and passions subside naturally Russia will find it easier to set up relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia since stability in Caucasus is the integral whole. Currently organized measures are aimed at stabilization.
Konstantin Kochiev, state adviser with the president of South Ossetia
Naturally, South Ossetia as part of Caucasus favors stability and prosperity in all adjacent territories. We have traditionally good relations with North Caucasus territories. I hope our ties will get stronger.