The messenger logo

The world reacts to war report

By Temuri Kiguradze
Friday, October 2
The report on the origins of the Georgian conflict presented by the EU-backed war inquiry commission on September 30 has aroused different reactions in different parts of the world.

While the Russian Foreign Ministry underlines that “from the report published on September 30 any sane person would draw the core conclusion that the aggression against South Ossetia on the night of August 7-8, 2008 was unleashed by the current leadership of Georgia,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry notes that the report “confirms that Russia invaded Georgia before Georgia took military action. It also confirms that Georgian civilians and peacekeepers were under attack, on Georgian soil, before August 7.”

However both Moscow and Tbilisi have found something unsuitable in the document presented by the team headed by Heidi Tagliavini. “The report contains a number of ambiguities. In particular, its section alleging a disproportional use of force by the Russian side raises big questions,” writes the Kremlin, while Tbilisi “regrets that while the Commission has proven that Russian troops were illegally in Georgia, it fails to call this an invasion. Yet it was this invasion that triggered the conflict.”

Overall the assessment of both Russia and Georgia is positive, with both sides calling the report “helpful” and “useful.” Another country to make comment on the 900 page document is the US. “I think we recognise that all sides made mistakes and miscalculations through the conflict last year,” Philip J. Crowley, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, said on September 30. “But our focus is on the future and we hope that Georgia and Russia – we expect them both to abide by the agreements that they made under the ceasefire agreements in August and September of last year, and we expect them to live up to those commitments.” Crowley added that the report has yet to be thoroughly studied by all the interested sides.

The French Government, which participated in the mediation of the ceasefire agreement that stopped the August 2008 bloodshed, has also confirmed that the report had been handed to the country’s Foreign Ministry; however it has refrained from making comment at this point.

The de facto authorities of the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia, as expected, have taken the Russian position on the report and announced that it confirms that Georgia was guilty of starting the war, however Abkhazian de facto Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba added that the report “will not lead to anything.” “European politics is so engaged with and so dependent on the US, which supports Saakashvili, that we have no hope that anything will change,” stated Shamba on October 1.

The OSCE, which has also made a statement on the report, has refrained from taking any side in the discussions, limiting itself to the announcement by the Greek Chairmanship that “the OSCE hopes that the work completed by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission under Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini will help heal wounds and improve diplomatic preventive capabilities.”

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas, who arrived in Georgia on a two-day official visit on October 1, has criticised the report, stating that it is too early for an investigation into the conflict. “If I had been in the [EU] Council at the time [the Commission was established], I would not have supported this idea," Usackas said in an interview with EU observer on Wednesday. "The wounds are too sensitive to open. I don't think it's useful from a pragmatic point of view, just one year after the conflict, to engage in a not very helpful debate about who should be blamed," underlined the Minister.