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Paranoia03.09.2010 | 20:02
Georgia has found an economic pretext why Russian C-300 air defense missile systems were deployed in Abkhazia. As some Tbilisi newspapers believe Moscow is demonstrating its military power in South Caucasus in order to scare investors and tourists away from Sakartvelo. GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed the false rise in economic risks with Segey Demidenko, expert at the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Evaluations.
News on "Abkhazia-owned" C-300 systems caused serious panic in Tbilisi. Georgian strategists thought of Moscow's continued militarization of the "occupied territories" fraught with the danger that "inadequate arms" can get to "inadequate people". Protests on the part of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not changed the situation naturally. It is clear why: Russian anti-missile systems are in the Transcaucasian republic under the bilateral treaties.
Still, there are grave reasons for Abkhazia to have C-300s. Given instability of the current Georgian regime and its territorial appetites Moscow is playing safe in case Russia and Abkhazia come under an air attack.
According to some politologists, an assault like this is quite likely given the war Georgia unleashed in August 2008. "I don't think it impossible that redeployment of C-300s to Abkhazia is connected with the Sochi Olympics. Tbilisi have repeatedly stated Georgia will not let Russia hold the Olympic Games in peace. Moscow is responsible not only for itself - there are hundreds of international delegations, tourists and viewers. It makes no sense to rely on the long arm of coincidence, does it? - Sergey Mikheev, deputy director general of Center for Political Technologies Foundation remarks.
Now, two weeks later, the topic of Russian anti-missile systems is still discussed in the Georgian press: C-300 deployment is viewed as an attempt to intimidate potential investors and hamper Georgia's economy growth. Tabloids assert that Russia is stirring a "military hysteria" in South Caucasus willing to affect the potential inflow of tourists to Sakartvelo.
Well, sounds like an interesting point of view. There is one "but" though. Firstly, serious economic risks in Georgia could be discussed during the five-day war in 2008 and immediately after. Any way you slice it the situation in Caucasus two years ago, before Russia's recognition of Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence was indeed unpredictable. However, after independence of the two Transcaucasian republics was acknowledged and the Russian border troops established themselves in the region, there came peace. One thing to add: now the situation on South Caucasian borders is stable and causes no serious fears.
Secondly, the accent on this military hysteria constantly made by our Georgian colleagues has become Tbilisi's signature and has nothing to do with Moscow. At times there is an impression that Georgian diplomats simply love the term "occupation" and have great fun juggling with it when the opportunity occurs.
Thirdly, the image of a small insulted country has a positive effect on financial inflows from Sakartvelo's Western partners helping their Georgian friends. Though the aid comes seasoned with various sauces, the phrase "post-war restoration" definitely comes first.
What is the reason for these anti-Russian marches in the Georgian press? According to Sergey Demidenko, an expert at the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Evaluations, this is just an element of the propaganda war in the media, and the opinion that the republic's mass media present is ungrounded.
"A C-300 system is a defense weapon so it's silly to say it enhances Abkhazia's attacking power in confrontation with Georgia, - Demidenko highlights. - Russian anti-missile complexes might be of use only in case Georgia decides to attack Abkhazia which really can scare investors away given Tbilisi's aggressive plans.
The politologist thinks that speaking about Georgia's economy and its potential risks Ajaria's development must not be forgotten either. Hotels are under constructions, people come there for holidays. "These people, by the way, went there even during the war. It had no effect on the region, - the expert reminds. - So current statements in Georgian media must be considered as part of the political game Tbilisi is pursuing against Moscow. Nothing more".