Why do the USA need Georgia?02.02.2010 | 15:33
At the end of last week, the US State Secretary Hillary Clinton stated that Washington is calling upon Moscow to respect the obligations undertaken in the context of the cease-fire agreement and refused to accept Russia's arguments as to the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On his part, President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili took Clinton's statement as her definite and unchanged position and support. Does the speech of the State Secretary mean that the United States are again placing their stake on Georgia in the Caucasus confrontation? GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed the issue with the Russian political analysts and experts.
Eugeniy Minchenko, Director of International Institute of Political Expertise
Of course, Georgia is a strategic territory for the USA because of the airdromes which provide an approach to the so-called expanded Near East front that is essential for the Americans. However, I would not say that the USA are placing their stake at something, so long as the neoconservatives' model orf setting up a sanitary cordon around Russia has turned bankrupt and Obama has given up this strategy in the context of the so-called "reload". That is why the present situation is nothing but ceremonial statements. However, there is nothing else the Americans can do; they have started talking about supporting Georgia's territorial integrity since August 2008 but talking is one thing and practical steps is another thing, and Washington is not going to undertake any steps as to bringing back these territories.
The major part of the Russian elite is satisfied with such position, for if Abkhazia and South Ossetia were internationally recognized today it would mean that the next stage will imply resetting the USA's foreign policy, as well as an attempt to turn Abkhazia and South Ossetia into the countries hostile towards Russia. It would be a difficult task in respect of South Ossetia, while such attempts could be theoretically made in respect of Abkhazia. In this aspect, the fact that Sukhum and Tskhinval are moving along the Russian policy track plays in the hands of some of the Russian elite.
Sergey Mikheev, Deputy Director General of the Political Technologies Center Foundation
Clinton's words might be interpreted in a different way. I think that the Americans have once again outlined their position as to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, first of all, for their Georgian partners. In my opinion, the USA's position goes as follows: they recognize the current situation de-facto and take the current realities into account, while de jure the Americans will be the last ones to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This fact should be clearly understood. Naturally, the current Tbilisi authorities are more agreeable for Washington than the authorities of the young republics and there can be no illusions here.
Artem Malgin, reader in Foreign Affairs and Policy in Moscow State University of Foreign Affairs
This is a regular statement which has nothing new in it from the point of view of the American policy. I do not think there is any additional emphasis in support of Saakashvili.
Pavel Podlesny, Head of the Center of Russian-American relationship of the USA and Canada Institute of RAS
Such statements are constantly made by the American administration. Obama makes them less often, showing his political correctness, while Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are constantly talking about Georgia's support. On the whole, one should not expect any changes in the White House's position in respect of Tbilisi.
What are the prospects of recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
There are nice prospects, I believe. Things will not go on quickly; still, the number of the countries to recognize their independence will gradually increase. I leave open the possibility that Byelorussia will anyway do it after the presidential elections in the republic. Should the scandalous story with the representatives of the Georgian power structures that visited Ukraine during the first round of elections continue this may provoke the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the part of Kiev.
The prospects of recognition are rather complicated. The list of the countries will obviously grow but it will grow slowly and with difficulties. The point is that, in my opinion, the recognition should not be turned into an obsession. Ultimately, there are a lot of states in the world politics that were not recognized for a long time; some of them have got problems still but they do not prevent them from normal life. I would like to remind you that many countries that are now universally recognized have been unrecognized for dozens of years.