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Feet stamping all over

By David Matsaberidze
Tusday, September 16
The international community is still divided over the developments in Georgia, but the division is largely one between Russia on one side and the rest of the world on the other, with the rest of the world demanding that Russia complies with the now-famous six point ceasefire agreement.

Moscow is hardening its line on the separatist regions, sending Foreign Minister Lavrov on official visits to the de facto regimes. This could be seen as a response to the impending arrival of the US Special Mission and EU Monitoring Group in Georgia and the NATO Council meeting in Tbilisi. In the midst of this ongoing tension, part of the Georgian opposition is firmly demanding an investigation of the August developments and the Saakashvili Government’s responsibility for them.

Germany is still demanding the immediate execution of the six point agreement, following Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s promise that “Europe will defend and strongly adhere to its obligations.” Reportedly a brief telephone conversation was conducted between Steinmeier and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, at which details of the EU monitoring mission to be sent to Georgia before the special summit in Brussels were discussed. Britain is also ready to contribute to the monitoring mission.

The US is sending its new special mission to monitor the military damage suffered by the country as a result of the Russian aggression, as Associated Press reports. The mission will determine the nature of the aid Georgia receives, as the US will contribute to the reconstruction of Georgia’s military infrastructure to “make Georgia capable of defending itself against the enemy and countering challenges effectively.”

Iran is beginning to play a more active role in this region’s affairs. Its Foreign Minister arrived in Berlin on September 15 to discuss Caucasian affairs with the German Foreign Minister. Official representative of Iran Hasan Hashhav stated that the visit is related to the recent developments. Reportedly, Iran does not support the involvement of non-regional states in the region’s affairs, stressing that Iran will contribute to the stabilization of the region.

Meanwhile Russia is showing its support for the separatist regions of Georgia in more sophisticated ways. Foreign Minister Lavrov is currently discussing perspectives of future collaboration with the Bagapsh and Kokoity regimes. The separatists in turn are still oppressing ethnic Georgians in the territories they control, forcing them to leave the Tskhinvali Region and having kicked out almost entire Georgian population from upper Abkhazia. This deliberate ethnic cleansing of Georgians is being effectively exercised with military support from the Russian troops. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia has strongly demanded the immediate placement of international observers on these territories to prevent this ethnic cleansing.

Sergey Lavrov stated during his visit to Sokhumi on September 14 that “Moscow will contribute to the formation of Abkhazia as an independent state and in this regard a range of agreements in the spheres of taxation, border checkpoint control, banking and financial sector are being prepared for future approval.” An Embassy of Moscow will start operations in Sokhumi before the New Year, and an open border will exist between Russia and Abkhazia. Lavrov’s comments accompanied the announcement by Russian President Medvedev that “Russia has its zones of interest and sees no reason to deny it,” although he added that Russia aims at peaceful and normal relations with its neighbours. As Medvedev mentioned, “through the dissolution of the Soviet Union Russia became a weak state, and thus could not support its neighbours. Now circumstances are different, Russia will seek to help, and add to the list of, its traditional friends.”

While all this is going on a group of opposition parties are demanding an investigation of what happened in August. As the leader of the Parliamentary Minority Giorgi Targamadze stated, “we consider it necessary to investigate the recent developments, and after consultation with Parliamentary Chair David Bakradze the format of these investigations will be determined.” According to Targamadze, the investigation is necessary “as an objective answer to all the recent questions should be provided”.