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Little time left for Georgian-Russian file?18.01.2011 | 19:00
The future of the notorious Georgian-Russian file concerning the events of August 2008 will probably be decided upon in Paris today. In these latter days, PACE has been rather listening to Moscow's substantiated arguments then to Tbilisi's hysterical attempts of promoting the idea of "de-occupation", so there is a possibility that the document will simply be put on the shelf. Still, Sakartvelo diplomats keep convulsing: Georgian delegation refused to participate in the file discussion. Perhaps, they realized that the battle is lost.
The dull and unproductive discussion of the August 2008 events held by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe could have ended last summer. PACE commission split in half then: 16 pros and 16 cons. However, the disagreement among the Assembly members who once demanded that Russia should withdraw the decision on recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia gave Moscow certain hopes.
The West's attitude towards the Georgian regime has much changed after the August war. As was reasonably underlined by political experts, Europe has found the trap set up by Saakashvili. "Human right defenders took Georgia's side and then discovered that the picture painted for them had very little in common with the real one", - Director of the Democracy Problems Research Foundation Maxim Grigoriev shared his opinion with GeorgiaTimes, having added that the continuation of the Georgian topic with an anti-Russian orientation in support of Saakashvili has become a kind of mauvais ton in the European politics.
Deputy Head of the Russian delegation in PACE Leonid Slutsky also expressed his mind. He supposed that European parliamentarians might take a decision on the file at the parliamentary conference at the end of the year. "PACE has made a great progress on its way out of the deadlock that has developed around the Russian-Georgian file, - he underlined. - The upcoming conference will help decide whether to continue the work on the document in the form of a separate report in the PACE platform or just "dissolve" it in the countries' monitoring reports on Russia and Georgia".
Despite common sense, the file still exists. The only reassuring point is that it will hardly last long in its initial form, for even Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland believes that Georgia should give up the attempts of politicizing the document and agree with the policy of "minor affairs", i.e. the settlement of humanitarian situation in the conflict zone.
However, Tbilisi seems to care about the settlement of urgent issues least of all: the delegation from Sakartvelo simply refused to come to Paris to discuss the file. "There will be no Georgian delegation there, for we are waiting for Russia to fulfill PACE's resolutions, - said Deputy Head of MFA of the republic Nino Kalandadze. - The Assembly has passed three important resolutions openly calling on Russia to fulfill the international obligations".
If Georgia was trying to change anything by this demarche, then it failed - such step caused nothing but surprise. "Georgia has now got fewer opportunities to tack and keep to the same demagogic line that it has been keeping to after the August events and that it is unable to continue because of the serious changes in the realities in connection with EU's report", - says Chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev.
In all appearances, the current situation has got few ways out. Any file is either finally closed, or is transformed into a plan on settling the near-border issues. The prospects were discussed by GeorgiaTimes correspondent with Director General of the National Strategy Council Valeriy Khomyakov and expert of the Strategic Assessment and Analysis Institute Sergey Demidenko.
Khomyakov: Georgian side should not expect anything good. Though PACE is a politicized structure, there are enough people there who won't quarrel with Russia because of Georgia, especially that many deputies realize to this or that extent that it may lead to changes in Moscow's policy in respect of the objecting countries. Their pragmatism should prevail over politicization. That's why I believe the file will ultimately be closed. Of course, some delegates will insist upon the document being considered further but this is of no importance in this case.
Demidenko: I do not think the file will be closed. The slack negotiations will go on in the same "comatose" manner. Normalization of relationship between the countries is still a very distant project, and the possibility of a full-scale dialogue is still vaguer. However, a platform for a dialogue is needed anyway, for the South Caucasus still falls within Moscow's interests and the way the situation will develop is so far unclear. The two countries won't be able to split once and for all primarily because of the economic aspects and so long politics is the continuation of economy, PACE's platform will be needed in future. It is true that Georgia is now trying to stress the status of an offended country but the world's opinion of the August conflict has changed significantly and if the West felt sorry for Georgia it would make it a NATO member long ago.