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Why was the Tagliavini Commissionís conclusion delayed?

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, July 9
Georgia is a rumour-driven country. Whenever a simple fact is reported it is accompanied by rumours and reading between the lines. Sometimes however these rumours appear because there is a lack of objective and reliable information.

The final report of the Tagliavini Commission studying the causes of the August 2008 war was due to be submitted to the EU by the end of July. However, on July 4 it made it known that there will be a two month delay in submitting this report. The official explanation for this is that the Commission has obtained extra materials which need to be studied and this takes time. However this statement only served to trigger rumours.

Certain media outlets are suggesting that the report is being delayed as a result of a meeting between Heidi Tagliavini and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin which was held on July 1. It is alleged that during this meeting Karasin expressed his utmost dissatisfaction with the conclusions drawn so far and threatened that the all the responsibility for spoiling the Russia-EU relationship by publishing the report would be put on Tagliaviniís shoulders. The rumours say that Tagliaviniís response was principled but the final report was still delayed.

The same rumours suggest that the reportís preliminary conclusions were known to not only the Russian side but the Georgian side as well. We donít know the exact source of this information and therefore canít confirm its truthfulness, but it does seem credible to state that what Russia knew Georgia also knew, and Georgia has made no direct statement about the preliminary conclusions so far.

Former Georgian Foreign Minister and now political analyst Irakli Menagaraishvili states in the newspaper Rezonansi that he knows Tagliavini very well and is sure that it is not very easy to blackmail or threaten her. Menagarishvili suggests that maybe the reason for the delay is the one actually given by the Commission. He expresses his hope that the conclusion of the Commission will be principled as the EUís attitude towards Russia will be based on the content of the report. However some Georgian political analysts think that the Commission will be forced to draw a balanced conclusion, whether or not this is justified. Demur Giorkhelidze goes further and suggests that it would have been better for Georgia if this Commission had not been set up. Whatever its report concludes Georgia would not benefit from it as the report will be a purely political document. Giorkhelidze also suggests that it would be better if the document focused on the prehistory of the conflict, as analysing this properly would be to Georgiaís advantage.

Russia wants the Commission to say that Georgia started the war and Russia was obliged to use force. Giorkhelidze thinks that the report will criticise both sides and the content of the final document will very much depend on the confrontation and background ďfightĒ between the EU and USA on one side and Russia on the other. Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Nalbandov has stated that final decision on delaying the report has not yet been approved as it has to be officially endorsed by the EU Committee of Ministers. He expressed his confidence that the conclusion submitted by the Commission will be thoroughly complete and objective.

The conclusions of the Tagliavini Commission are eagerly awaited by the Georgian opposition as well, who presumably think that Saakashvili will be criticised and that this would provide yet another reason for demanding his resignation. The opposition had planned to hold big rally on 7 August, the anniversary of the August war breaking out, because it thought the conclusions of the Commission would have been known by then, but it looks like this will not be case. But the rumours continue. Some suggest that the delay has been caused by the fact that the West has not decided who should replace Saakashvili. The leader of Traditionalists Party of Georgia, Akaki Asatiani, suggests that when we see the Tagliavini Commissionís report Saakashvili will have to resign.

Very often rumours arise in Georgia because people believe what they want to believe rather than evaluating the facts. However sometimes rumours turn out to be true. Who knows? Georgia is a strange country.