U.S. compelled Georgia to peace?11.04.2013 | 10:39
Georgia continues declassification of documents related to the previous authorities. The head of the parliamentary committee for the restoration of the territorial integrity Gia Volsky published a letter of the former ambassador to the U.S. Vasil Sikharulidze to the then-Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili. Americans warned the Georgian leadership from hasty and ill-considered actions against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. What about did Matthew Bryza warn Tbilisi, and what was the reaction of Saakashvili's team?
Back in 2006, the U.S. warned Georgia against confrontation with Russia. This became known from the letter of the former ambassador to Washington, former head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gela Bezhuashvili. The letter was published by head of the parliamentary commission on the restoration of the territorial integrity Gia Volsky.
Shortly before the Georgian parliament adopted in 2006 the resolution on the Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia, which virtually declared them outlaws, the Georgian ambassador to Washington met the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza. Vasil Sikharulidze wrote the then head of the Foreign Ministry that Bryza had asked the Georgian government to give a chance to the United States and other Western partners to put political pressure on Russia through the United Nations. The letter, in particular, says: "Group of friends of Georgia calls on the Parliament not to take emotional and confrontational resolution on the Russian peacekeepers. In this case, neither the U.S. nor the group of friends or the United Nations will support Georgia. It will harm the prospect of settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, as well as affect the decision of the European countries to connect Georgia to intensified dialogue with NATO."
Bryza also advises Georgia not to mention in the resolution the issue of peacekeeping forces and to focus attention on the need to deploy international police force under the auspices of the UN in the Gali district.
But obviously, for the then authorities the recommendation of even strategic partners existed in order not to fulfill them. On July 18, 2006, Georgian Parliament unanimously adopted resolution committing the government to start the procedures for termination of peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The former head of the State Chancellery of Georgia, political expert Petre Mamradze says that this is not the only recommendation of the Western partners ignored by the former leadership of the country. "For some reason many people in Georgia think that Saakashvili did everything as the Americans told him, but I personally have witnessed him doing the opposite things like a spoiled child," Mamradze said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. "He was repeatedly told that he should not spoil relations with Russia, that he should not even admit a thought of a military operation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He was told that by doing this, Georgia would not join NATO. These are the words of the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But Saakashvili responded that he had no other choice and that the time was running out. Eventually, for the West he became a figure holding a grenade which could explode at any time. This applied both to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
In the Kodori Gorge in 2006, the U.S. barely managed to keep Saakashvili from the fighting. Saakashvili has repeatedly visited the Kodori Gorge, where he shouted that soon the government of Abkhazia, located in the Kodori Gorge, would move to Sukhum. At that time the Americans managed to stop it, they made all efforts to do this. Of course, some senators, such as John McCain, encouraged Saakashvili to embark on shady enterprises and said that in this case "all civilized nations will be with him." But the U.S. administration, George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and others strongly opposed that and said that in this case Saakashivli would be left alone, which eventually happened in 2008. In 2006, George Bush invited him to Washington and personally demanded to put an end to such adventures. Washington hoped that such a "cold shower" would be enough for Mikheil Saakashvili, but, apparently, its effect lasted up to 2008," said Mamradze.
Expert Soso Tsiskarishvili says that Matthew Bryza's statements, made in closed meetings, are different from his public statements made at about the same time. "Bryza was the first who in January 2008, without waiting for the results of the Central Election Commission of Georgia, congratulated Mikheil Saakashvili on his victory in the presidential election," Tsiskarishvili said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. As for the status of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia, which, in fact, turned into border force even before Moscow's recognition of Abkhazia's independence, I do not think that the decision of the Georgian Parliament could somehow affect the situation as a whole. These troops have never been neutral and never performed functions recorded in their mandate. Conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia began long before 2006, so that the origins of these problems must be sought in the past, and the status of the peacekeeping forces could not change anything. Of course, it was better not to aggravate the situation and not to take this decision, but in reality it could not change anything - the Parliament of Georgia only stated what everyone knew," said Tsiskarishvili.