Military Transit to Nowhere21.04.2011 | 19:30
Georgia has suspended its agreement with Russia on the transit of military equipment and personnel to the military base located in Armenia. The Parliament made this "historical" decision unanimously. 84 deputies present at the meeting said their "yes". In principle, Russia can have a difficult issue: how to send its military equipment and personnel to Armenia. However, actually the agreement has not worked since 2008. An expert of the Moscow Institute of Military and Political Analysis Alexander Khramchikhin spoke about it to the GeorgiaTimes correspondent.
Analysis Alexander Khramchikhin spoke about it to the GeorgiaTimes correspondent.
Many observers, including in Georgia itself, having heard the news on the cancellation of the military transit agreement with Russia, were quite surprised: everybody thought the document had ceased to be in force a long time before. And, in fact, the last time Moscow asked Tbilisi for a transit corridor happened only in July'2008. Since then Russian equipment has never been sent to Armenia through the Georgian territory.
Formally Tbilisi cancels the international agreement in accordance with the existing regulations. The term of the agreement signed 5 five years ago expired on 31 March of this year. According to law, if one of the parties wants to disengage itself from the obligations under a document, it should perform all the procedures required for its denunciation within half a year from the moment of its expiry. Otherwise the agreement on the transit of military cargoes through the Georgian territory is automatically extended by five more years.
In such a way the Georgian authorities just avoided the technical procedure of international agreement termination. However, according to the traditions of the public Tbilisi politics, the boring legal process has been turned into a big and noisy information campaign.
The agreement on military transit was signed between Russia and Georgia in 2006. It appeared exactly in the period when the two countries were holding negotiations on the withdrawal of military bases from Batumi and Akhalkalaki. This document became kind of a compensation to Moscow. The Russian party was enabled to use both Georgian air and ground for the delivery of cargoes to the 102nd military base in the Armenian town of Gumri. However, after the events of August'2008 Russia never used the corridor. According to the Georgian military experts, only once the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation addressed Tbilisi with a request to allow military transit to Armenia. The Georgians refused and since then military base supply has been effected using other itineraries. None of the experts knows which ones. Alexander Khramchikhin, an expert of the Moscow Institute of Military and Political Analysis, told the GeorgiaTimes correspondent about it.
"It is clear that Russian military bases somehow solve the problem of cargo delivery to Armenia. Almost three years have passed since the Georgian itinerary was closed", said Khramchikhin.
At the same time the experts notes that the Georgian Parliament's decision does not have any significant political meaning. "The agreement has not been valid for a long time. So its cancelling can have no consequences", said Alexander Khramchikhin.
So the Georgian Parliament cancels a "dead" agreement with Russia at the initiative of the president of the country but it does it in such a way as if some significant political event happened. Hearing the rumour, the representatives of an expert society have already moved up speaking of large, almost geopolitical changes in the Caucasus.
For example, the deputy of the Azerbaijanian Parliament Rasim Musabekov thinks that since yesterday Azerbaijan's position can be considered as enforced. Difficult to say where the Azerbaijanian parliamentarian saw an interrelation between the transit of military cargoes for a Russian base in Armenia and the positions of Azerbaijan.
The famous Georgian political expert Mamuka Areshidze also comments on the cancellation of the military transit agreement. He speaks on how Russian servicemen will deliver their cargoes to Armenia now that the Georgian corridor has been closed. But Areshidze, as the majority of other commentators, has forgotten for some reason that the Georgian corridor has not been working for three years and the Russian military base in Armenia has been supplied somehow, and no messages on the hunger of the Russian military men in Gumri have been transmitted by news agencies.
It is symboliс that Tbilisi officially broke off its agreement with Russia exactly while the Minister of Defense of the country Bacho Akhalaya was on a visit in Armenia. In Georgia they understand how important military co-operation with Russia is for Erevan. However, Armenia reacted to the events quite calmly. No panic, just a healthy, pragmatic reaction. Erevan is sure that the Russian-Armenian military co-operation will remain as close as before. Obviously, it is not a secret for Armenians how Russians supply their base in Gumri for the latest three years.