The messenger logo

The Geneva maze

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 21
The Georgian authorities are always making optimistic remarks about the ongoing Geneva talks and the UN Security Council resolutions concerning the territorial integrity of Georgia. However there is a certain skepticism in the population about these things.

It is very difficult to imagine that Russia will be forced to retreat and give up its imperialistic ambitions in the near future. There is not much optimism in this direction but neither is there any other option left so far, besides appealing to all levels of international organisation and sitting at the negotiating table.

What were the plans of the Georgian delegation before the 5th round of the Geneva talks? Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria highlighted some aspects of Georgia’s agenda, such as the possible deployment of international police forces in the Russian-occupied territory and gradually reversing the occupation of these regions by forcing Russia to fulfill all the international commitments it took on but has violated ever since. This is all very optimistic and just, but the question arises: how realistic is it to make these proposals and expect them to be implemented, either in Geneva or through the New York UN HQ? It is doubtful whether the international community is ready to do these things, or whether an international force will be as pro-Georgian as the Georgian Government likes to think it will.

The task ahead of the country now is a much more moderate one. In the short term what is needed are guarantees that peace will be maintained and military confrontations will not recur. This is achievable, provided both sides are prepared to make some concessions. However it is important to select the right things to compromise over. Georgia should not do anything which would involve abrogating its sovereignty and territorial integrity by legalizing the Russian occupation of its territory. Of course it’s very important to calm Russia’s aggressive intentions, but not at any price, particular by taking steps which are probably more likely to provoke aggression, by showing Russia it can get away with anything, than calm it.

Negotiations over the breakaway regions of Georgia have been going on since the nineties of last century but have yielded practically no visible results. For some time Moscow was given the status of peacekeeper in these regions, and conducted a crawling annexation of sovereign Georgia’s territories disguised as such. Today the situation is much more serious. The Sokhumi and Tskhinvali separatist regimes have declared their independence and this has been recognized by Russia. Now the Russian armed forces are being deployed in these regions of Georgia according to the illegal bilateral agreements signed by the puppet regimes and the Kremlin. Georgia has no presence in its own territory and Georgians are no longer welcome there.In any other country this would be called an invasion and illegal occupation, and in most cases the powers would insist on the withdrawal of the occupying force before anyone sits around a negotiating table.

Today Russia is conducting a brazenly imperialistic policy which recognises no higher value than Russian dominance. It is trying to legitimise its behaviour by pressurising international organizations into recognising the ‘new reality’ in the Caucasus, which is what it calls its military achievement. It is doing the same in Geneva. Russia has managed to secure the separatist regimes a place in the negotiations through the working groups, although initially only Georgia and Russia were supposed to be there. This concession which Georgia made is a small but indirect victory for Russia. The recent report of the UN Secretary General is another indirect proof that Russia is consistently strengthening its position. In the title of his report there is no mention of Georgia as such, only Abkhazia. This created the utmost optimism in Moscow and among the separatists.

The UN Secretary General’s report mentions the different resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in which Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty have been confirmed many times. These are the resolutions the Georgian authorities are so optimistic about. But they have done little to stop Russia’s crawling annexation. Indeed, the pressure Russia has put on international organisations has resulted in this annexation having an international, not merely local, dimension. Whatever Georgia may say, the international community has indirectly “legitimized” Russia’s actions in practice, and knows this, and this is the point the negotiations need to address.