Leaving Perevi: comments and versions20.10.2010 | 20:06
Russia's decision on border guards withdrawal from Perevi has drawn Georgia's active response. EU observers and mine pickers have already arrived in the village. The former are settling in a new place, while the latter are searching for Russian mines that could be left after the withdrawal, and the Georgian diplomats and political experts take the disestablishment of the checkpoint as a step towards "de-occupation" of Sakartvelo. GeorgiaTimes correspondent got in touch with their Russian and South-Ossetian colleagues and asked to evaluate Moscow's goodwill gesture interpreted by Tbilisi in its own way.
For the first time, Russia's intention to withdraw servicemen from the near-border village of Perevi was voiced after the last round of negotiations in Geneva by Head of Foreign Ministry Grigory Karasin. He said that Russian border guards already left a disputable village once but had to come back when the village was attacked by Georgian special force. The diplomat warned Sakartvelo against the "propagandistic Sabbath" in the context of Russian solders' leave. He expressed hope that the EU monitoring group will influence local authorities and they will behave in the confines of "civilized parameters".
The transference of the checkpoint was positively taken practically in all the layers of the Georgian community. First comments traditionally came from the republic's diplomats, and they obviously could not do without the "propagandistic Sabbath". Foreign Ministry stated that the withdrawal of the Russian border guards is a step made "in the right direction of de-occupation". Georgian political experts feel optimistic as well. In the opinion of Soso Tsintsadze, a precedent has been created in Perevi, which is going to be further developed. His opinion is shared by another expert Ramaz Sakvarelidze who leaves open the possibility that after leaving Perevi, Russia may gradually withdraw the troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Georgian opposition is more prudent and reserved in supporting official Moscow's decision. Leader of the Christian-Democrats Georgy Targamadze underlined that the Russian authorities' initiative inspires certain optimism in respect of the negotiating process in the context of Geneva negotiations on safety and stability in the Caucasus. "This will be a perfect ground to bring negotiations to a definite result", - he added. On their part, members of Nino Burjanadze's "Democratic Movement - United Georgia" party made it clear that the withdrawal of troops from Perevi is going to trigger more positive steps on RF's part but at the same time, Georgian authorities should keep from provocative actions and statements.
There are a lot of forecasts and assessments on the Georgian side. And what's the opinion of Moscow and Tskhinval about the withdrawal of the Russian checkpoint?
Inal Pliyev, independent South-Ossetian political expert: As far as I know, in that region, there was no road to connect South-Ossetian villages. That is why, to get from one village to another, one had to go through Perevi, which is a Georgian territory. As I understand, the road has been constructed, so there is no need for a checkpoint any longer, and the Georgian side is deliberately making a sensation of the story.
Ruslan Kharabua, expert of the Caucasian department of Institute of CIS Countries: to my mind, Moscow is making a diplomatic concession in the context of the forthcoming NATO summit in Lisbon. The withdrawal of troops from Perevi may be related to Russia's future entrance in the World Trade Organization. As is known, the Georgian side stands for the Russian troop's withdrawal from the territory of the republic, so Tbilisi is ready to give its consent for Russia's entrance in WTO under certain conditions.
Valery Khomyakov, Director General for National Strategy Council: I believe it is connected with Russia's attempt to eliminate the consequences of the August war. The more so, that it's done on the threshold of Dmitry Medvedev's very important visit to Europe and his meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy. As is known, the French president did a lot to settle the conflict two years ago. It is done to demonstrate the West that Russia is fulfilling international liabilities. Russian party is doing everything necessary, and it is hardly orienting itself at Georgia, though this is a sign to all the normal people of the Georgian community that Moscow is not going to take any military actions. I'm sure the news will be taken positively both in the West and in Georgia.
Are the Georgian diplomats and political experts' suppositions about "further occupation" grounded enough?
Inal Pliyev: I rule out such a possibility. The states that have recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia will never cancel their decision. It is true that each man is free to wait for anything he chooses, even for the Second Coming, but I'm sure there will be no refusal to recognize the Transcaucasian republics.
Ruslan Kharabua: It's difficult to say the way things are going to happen. Life will show. Still, I would like the situation to develop according to the Georgian scenario.