Is Georgian strategy viable?22.03.2010 | 22:50
Russia and OSCE condemn Georgia's strategy on Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian diplomats believe that the restoration of trust to Georgian authorities Tbilisi lost over the years of confrontation with Tskhinval and Sukhum must start with learning the lessons of the past and admission of new political and legal reality in South Caucasus - not strategies or plans. GeorgiaTimes correspondent asked well-known politologists whether the organization will support the Georgian strategy and if Tbilisi will reckon with Moscow's criticism.
On March 19 Georgia presented a new strategy on Abkhazia and South Ossetia to OSCE. Official Tbilisi relies on the organization's support in realization of the document. As we know, the strategy stipulates relations between Georgian authorities and Abkhaz and South Ossetian population including such issues as education, development of cultural ties and people's diplomacy. According to official statements the planned actions shall contribute to rapprochement between nations living in the republics, ensure safe border crossing between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia and promote economic interaction.
However, despite promises to settle territorial issues by way of dialogue the new Transcaucasian republics are denominated as "occupied territories" controlled by "puppet regimes" in Georgian annex to the document.
The wording sounds bad to all - Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It is believed In Smolensakya square that recognition of republics as independent drastically changed the situation in South Caucasus so the sooner Georgia accepts new reality the faster stability and atmosphere of partnership will set in the region.
Russian OSCE Envoy Anvar Azimov called the document "a new propaganda action" by Georgia's current leaders at the time of strategy consideration in Vienna. According to the diplomat the document leaves no doubt that the action by Georgian politicians is meant "to somehow mitigate destructive consequences of Georgian policies in the region particularly after tragic events of August 2008". Azimov is also sure that Georgian leaders perseveringly ignore the opinion of Abkhazians and South Ossetians instead of offering apologies for "committed crimes".
GeorgiaTimes correspondent talked to Russian and Georgian politologists to find out if Tbilisi was ready to consider Moscow's criticism and whether the OSCE would approve of the Georgian strategy.
Sergey Demidenko, an expert at the Institute for Strategic Analysis and Evaluations
I'm sure Georgia will continue to reject Russia's criticism in any case. Saakashvili is not going to change the country's domestic and foreign vectors based on the image of an external foe, i.e. Russia - as confirmed by the story recently shown on Imedi TV. That is why Russia is still viewed as an enemy for Georgia, and all Russia's initiatives will be negative by definition.
Now the OSCE will fall into long discussions. I believe the organization will turn the Georgian strategy down. Besides, there is nothing new in this Georgian document, I think. That is why Russia's stand will come into play. At the same time after August 2008 and due to Tagliavini's report that acknowledges Saakashvili as the initiator of the attack on South Ossetia Europe has formed its special attitude to Saakashvili, not Georgia.
Eugeny Minchenko, director of International Institute for Political Expertise
I don't think Georgia will make allowance for Russia's criticism because Georgia considers these territories as occupied and aims at reintegration. Russia views Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. If the strategy itself is based on setting targets contradicting geopolitical reality, there is no sense fixing it.
The strategy is not exactly anti-Russian. The document is close to the EU's position on Georgia's territorial integrity. As for the prospects, the OSCE, as we know, is a collective body. So most probably it will adopt a decision in nobody's favor making the Georgian strategy halt at the level of discussions.
Politologist Ivlian Khaidrava, a Republican
I think it was Russia who changed Caucasian reality. However Moscow's opinion that the strategy is out-of-date is true - in part. We should have come forward with these initiatives earlier, before August 2008. It should be remarked that elements of this strategy started to emerge in 2005 but they were not articulated well enough. That's why lots of things have changed both on the part of Russia and Georgia. A force-applying solution prevailed. We all know what it led to. On the whole, the strategy contains good intentions but it's too early to discuss the way they will be put to life.
International structures are mainly positive about this act realizing a large distance between intentions and implementation. Given today's state of things in Abkhazia and South Ossetia it will be hard to realize the strategy and its fragments. Russia, for instance, is reinforcing republican borders which is in direct contradiction to the strategy provisions.