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Tuesday, 18 September 2018


Non-knightly Misha in lamb’s skin

25.11.2010  |  11:38

10516.jpegGeorgian president puts on the role of an angel promising not to use force restoring "territorial integrity" and expresses readiness for a dialogue with Moscow in his speech before the European parliament. Mikheil Saakashvili's speech could be impressive for Western parliamentarians, but Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia know the price of these words very well. What's behind Sakartvelo leader's demonstrative resignation?


Saakashvili's speech was announced as extraordinary, but from the first words of his "report" it became clear that it was the Georgian president's set piece on behalf of a peacekeeper unindifferent to the future of South Caucasus. Not his part, basically. But to be fair, he played it convincingly.

It will be remembered that not long ago Saakashvili did his best to stay as farther away as possible from signing a non-aggression pact for the region. But as it turns out he has changed his mind: in front of the European Parliament he made an oath to never again attack Abkhazia and South Ossetia and start discussing problems with Russia. "We will continue to take part in Geneva discussions hoping that the promise we are making today will persuade the Russian Federation to stop blocking the talks", - RBC quotes.

There are more things. Saakashvili asked the world community for support stating that Russia would never make advances unless Europe assigns an official status of "occupied territories" to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

What "blocking" did he mean? The Russian side has always acted as probably the most active negotiator constantly proposing new initiatives that never sounded good to Georgia, by the way.

Still, this is a cunning move - no doubt. On one hand Europe could see the Georgian president presenting his image speech as a peaceful sufferer ready to confront the villain. On the other hand, he tried to be proactive: if Moscow does not fall for it (naturally Moscow will not), it will be a nice chance to accuse Russia of inertness, imperialism and other pseudo-sins reiterating  long-awaited "deoccupation".

Let's not forget that Saakashvili is perfectly informed of the Lisbon summit results, he understands everything: the Georgian president delivering his speech at the time of a thaw between Russia and other geopolitical heavy-weighters is no coincidence.

No wonder the president's PR-move was immediately taken up by the republic's foreign ministry coming forward with an official address that looks like a replica of Saakashvili's words. But Moscow, Sukhum and Tskhinval were ready for that.

As Konstantin Kosachyev, head of State Duma international committee stated, the Georgian president's promise could have been acclaimed if it was not a word-for-word statement pronounced a few hours before the start of the military aggression in August 2008.

"Now we must pass from declarations of these intentions to preparation of a legally binding agreement on Georgia's non-use of force that would be signed by Tbilisi representatives and Abkhaz and South Ossetian leaders, - the diplomat added. - In this case Russia could act as a guarantor that this legally binding document could be concluded".

Abkhaz Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a statement that Georgia had done nothing to demonstrate its peaceful intentions despite these loud statements. "Reality makes us treat Saakashvili's speeches with caution", - FM Maxim Gvinjia said reminding that the Georgian army attacked sleeping Tskhinval immediately after Saakashvili's ceasefire statement.

South Ossetia too refers to Saakashvili's promises as farce. Merab Zasseev, head of RSO president's administration interior policy department, is sure that Mishiko was simply forced to make such a statement under pressure from the EU, particularly France demanding settlement of problems with neighbors for Georgia's NATO admission.

The question whether Saakashvili got his point across to Europe, is still open. He outlined his "peaceful" intentions so that the West could wait for next moves. It was not Dmitry Medvedev, but the obstinate Georgian leader that Nicolas Sarkozy asked to settle down issues with Abkhazia and Ossetia. Chances of a positive outcome are scarce, to be fair.

Abkhaz FM Maxim Gvinjia highlights in an interview with GeorgiaTimes: "Reason tells me all this is demagogy, and even if Georgia starts discussing the non-aggression pact, they will introduce amendments". According to the minister, Tbilisi will finally insist on signing such a document with Russia only. 'As you understand, this is no good to us. Certainly I would like to believe that Saakashvili's promises will come true, but I strongly doubt that", - he added.

Sergey Mikheev, deputy director general of Center for Political Technologies Foundation stated there are no chances for a dialogue with the current Georgian leaders. "With Saakashvili as president, all summit-level contacts are out of question", - the expert believes. - Besides, a non-aggression pact is nothing but words so far".

Things have turned out banal and simple. Indeed, Saakashvili's speech did make an impression on Georgia's expert community, but this is not important now. The fact is that Georgian president's puzzle was not a puzzle at all but a set of causal links that took him to Strasburg in the end.

Ruslan Chigoev

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