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Made in Russia - a Caucasus without Georgia

Tuesday, November 11
Since the August aggression Russia has been trying to establish its new order in the Caucasus region. This means isolating Georgia from its neighbours and keeping it thus. There exists the fear that Russia will try to involve Georgia’s neighbours in a plan to divide the country, partitioning it like Poland in the eighteenth century.

The Caucasus has a new geopolitical reality after this war. We can celebrate, with good reason, the very important role the EU played in stopping the conflict, but the organization is not keeping to its own commitment to ensure that the pre August 7 military situation is restored. This means that Europe has tacitly recognized the Moscow-implemented “order” in the Caucasus region, its armed forces being deployed on the territory of another sovereign state, its building up of new bases and its brutal suppression of any kind of anti-imperialist moves within Russia itself.

Take heed, world, how the quiet Kremlin voice of the first days of August has become louder and louder until it now blackmails Europe with its Iskander missiles. You will not be able to avoid recognizing that this is only the beginning. The main story will come later.

The US, which is best placed to do more than shake a verbal fist at Russia, is busy at the moment with elections, economic crises, handing over powers to the new administration and so on. Both Georgia’s leadership and opposition are convinced that we are part of the US’s sphere of strategic interest. Of course we are. But we are within the sphere of interest of other countries as well. Look at the map. What then? Should we simply wait for others to act instead of ourselves? Or should we act independently, on the basis of our own interests, as defined by Georgia and not other countries? Of course, we would not do so as shortsightedly as on August 7, which we would not have done then if the Georgian people had been any part of the decision.

Georgia is losing its image as a reliable country among its neighbours, confidence towards it is decreasing. The country was trapped by provocations and got involved in a bloody war, which it lost. The country became unstable “and troublesome” in the eyes of others, thinks analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze. We are told that the country will recover from the economic ill-effects of the war, but in none of the assurances we are given is it explained how this new lack of confidence will be countered, as its root is the conduct of the leadership, not how much money it has.

Moscow thinks it is on to something. It convened a trilateral summit with the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on November 2. This was ostensibly about Nagorno Karabakh, a conflict Russia suddenly wishes to mediate as if it is the natural arbiter of such matters. The hottest issue of that meeting however was the exclusion of Georgia from regional energy projects and its substitution with Armenia. Moreover, as the newspaper Akhali Taoba has stated, the issue of a possible federative arrangement for Georgia was also touched upon during this meeting, although Georgia was not present. It is hard to tell whether the Kremlin will be able to resolve the Karabakh knot, but by keeping this thorny issue in the public eye it can deflect attention from other things being discussed, knowing that all the parties involved would be too scared of the international reaction to reveal their agreed intentions openly.

Georgian political analyst Gulbaat Rtskhiladze attended another regional conference held in Ankara some time ago, and reported through a newspaper that certain participants had discussed the division of Georgia among themselves into different ‘spheres of interest.’ All this is being masterminded by Moscow, which is trying to use all possible means of undermining Georgia’s sovereignty. Everyone is watching this happen, but few wish to face up to where it leads. It is no accident that the countries most vocal in support of Georgia are exactly the ones who have been through this before, and remember how no one wanted to believe then.