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One man blocks United Caucasus31.10.2011 | 12:09
Over the past few years official Tbilisi has often shared dreams of "united Caucasus" led by Georgia. Local opposition is sure: this scenario is not realistic with the current president in office. Will the Caucasian republic manage to unite the region under its control after Mikheil Saakashvili steps down as president? GeorgiaTimes correspondent asks Vladimir Zakharov, a politologist, to answer this question raised by leader of Free Democrats Irakli Alasania.
Georgian authorities often present themselves as controllers of Transcaucasian policies. The president of the republic and his ministers pay visits to their neighbors assuring either Armenia or Azerbaijan (or both hostile states at once) of eternal friendship. Yet, it is clear to everyone that Georgia does not have real influence on the life of the region. This fiasco was frankly admitted by Irakli Alasania, Georgia's former UN envoy, now leader of Free Democrats party, in a recent interview.
The oppositionist accuses the president of failures in foreign policy and his inability to unite Caucasus through intolerance for the northern neighbor. "Georgia may make the first step, but not with Saakashvili as president. I am convinced that Saakashvili has no resources to start real talks with Russia. My priority task as a political figure in foreign policy is to settle differences with Russia. We must start talks, and I believe we will manage to find a common language with both Abkhazians and Ossetians. I believe the progress of these talks will influence the negotiating process around other conflicts in the region, like Nagorny Karabakh. After the change of regime in Georgia we will make active, dynamic and positive steps toward implementation of ideas above", - Irakli Alasania highlighted.
It is hard to contradict him. The current president of Georgia has a notorious record of scandals and shameful confusions making it impossible to view him as a peacekeeper let alone a unifier of Caucasus. His only achievement in the republic he is in charge with is complete submission to "third forces" both in foreign and domestic policies. How can Saakashvili, sponsored and instructed by Washington, unite anyone? Besides, who will want to follow example of Georgia under his leadership? Now that Western patrons are turning their back on Georgia, the situation does not look enviable.
Besides, it's better not to mention Mikheil Saakashvili's abilities to resolve ethnic conflicts South Caucasus is "famous" for. Violation of peaceful arrangements, juggling with words, slaughtering compatriots is what this politician could teach his colleagues provided they want to learn that.
Certainly, if the regime changes and Georgia's state machine is revamped, it is possible that the country will take an important place in Transcaucasia. To fulfill this task, there has to be a president untarnished by connections with the current ruling circle and able to restore broken ties with Russia that understands necessity to make up with the former Soviet "sister" but sees no opportunity for this because of disgraceful Mikheil Nikolayevich
On the other hand, all his speeches official Tbilisi's ability to settle disputes between neighbors sound like banal verbosity typical of the talkative Georgian leader, as suggested by Vladimir Zakharov, director of the Institute of political and social research of the Black Sea and Caspian region. He is sure that all diplomatic efforts of Saakashvili regime are a show-off. By way of example, the expert refers to Tbilisi's attempts to get involved in the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. "Georgia wants to show its serious influence on neighboring states, its significance for Caucasus. But what can Georgia do? This problem can't be solved in currently proposed formats. Karabakh is an independent state that proved its right to existence long ago. It will never agree to be part of Azerbaijan, - the expert said in an interview with GeorgiaTimes correspondent. He also added that Tbilisi's attempts to become an independent mediator between conflicting republics of South Caucasus will be hampered by Georgian leadership's openly pro-Azerbaijani stand.
"Together with Azerbaijan Saakashvili was planning to set up a supranational establishment, and all his decisions will favor Baku anyway. Armenia understands that well. No matter what proposals Georgian diplomats will come up with, everyone will see who pulls the strings", - our interlocutor emphasized.
Vladimir Zakharov also believes that Georgia's plans connected with Nagorny Karabakh and entire South Caucasus should be viewed through the lens of Washington's policies in the region. As we know, these policies are aimed at provision of a foothold for US troops in the run-up to a possible war with Iran. "America is making serious preparations for this war. For the States it is clear that Teheran is a hard nut to crack. We see attempts are made to manipulate public opinion globally in order to obtain a legitimate right to start an armed conflict", - the politologist believes.