The messenger logo

Words, words, words (Hamlet, Shakespeare)

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 17
Today some of the Georgian opposition are speculating more and more about dialogue with Russia. Some have already taken an anti-West and pro-Russian position, others maintain their Western orientation but give it a Russian flavour. Analysts and civil society organisations talk about dialogue and the West itself has recommended holding dialogue with Russia. But what can words achieve? There is a big chance that Georgia will once again lose from such a process, not because there is no need for it but because it is very easy to sacrifice Georgia’s interests.

Those who hoped that Georgia would join NATO by 2008 have been frustrated. At the beginning of the Rose Revolution administration NATO integration was seen as a panacea which would ensure the country’s stability and security. It is very interesting to see that those who most enthusiastically voted for NATO are now the ones enthusiastically promoting conducting dialogue with Russia. Clearly the search for a saviour so characteristic of Georgian politics is still more important than who that saviour is.

Both Russian and Georgian leaders also talk about dialogue. The Georgian side sets as a precondition for it the fulfillment of all the terms of the Medvedev-Sarkozy peace agreement. The Russian side however will only start a dialogue on the basis of its "new reality". This requires Georgia to accept Russian's occupation of Georgian territory and the 'independence' of the breakaway regions. Moreover the Putin-Medvedev tandem has declared many times that it is not going to conduct any type of dialogue with Georgia’s current leadership.

There are two reasons why some of Georgia’s opposition have turned their faces to Moscow. The first is the aforementioned advice from senior figures in the West to conduct dialogue with Russia and the second is the refusal of the present Russian leadership to conduct any dialogue with Georgia’s incumbent administration. However conducting dialogue with Moscow means accepting its rules of the game, adjusting to its policy and eventually acting in accordance with it yourself. In the Second World War this was known as "collaboration". Maybe at this stage this does not seem a serious possibility but the longer time goes on the more vivid this possibility will become.

Although Russian officials claim that they won’t conduct dialogue with Georgia they are being hypocritical as always, because they already do in the Geneva format. This dialogue also involves international organisations, the US and the separatist puppets. Nine rounds of these negotiations have already taken place, but it must be said that nothing visible has been achieved. In effect, this is dialogue for the sake of dialogue.

So the question is, can Georgia achieve anything through dialogue with Moscow? Or conversely, what is the alternative? Some time ago Georgia was advised to show "strategic patience", in other words not make dramatic moves, give promises or take on liabilities and commitments. It should just try to maintain the current equilibrium, in this view. There was a term for this in the Second World War too: "appeasement". History has not regarded such a policy kindly.