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Russian-Georgian relations: deadlock

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, August 26
August 26 is the second anniversary of the date when after occupying Georgia, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev recognised the occupied territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region as independent states. Since then the Russian leadership has sought further recognition of independence from the world community, mostly by bribing, blackmailing or threatening different states. But so far only minor countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and the tiny island of Nauru have recognised the breakaway regions of Georgia. Moscow is persistently promoting this so called “new reality” – a reality that is not accepted by rest of the world. The Georgian government and politicians state that with such a step, Russia has brought its relations with Georgia to a deadlock. These relations cannot be improved and regulated unless Russia withdraws its recognition of the breakaway regions. Chairman of the Georgian Parliament, Davit Bakradze gave interview to the Russian Vremya Novostey the eve of the second anniversary of the recognition, in which he stated that Georgia is ready to resolve the problematic issues with Russia through dialogue, however this dialogue should not start with a blank sheet. It is difficult to conduct dialogue with a country which has two embassies on Georgian territory - in Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, and when the armed forces of the country are occupying one fifth of Georgia’s territory. Bakradze stated that negotiations will start with the issue of the withdrawal of Russia's armed forces from Georgia and highlighted the prospects for conflict resolution. Otherwise it is impossible, he said.

Meanwhile, Russia, at least its current leadership, has no intention whatsoever to take back its recognition of Georgia’s breakaway regions. Neither is it going to withdraw from the territories. To the contrary, it continues its attempts to get other countries to recognise these entities and increases its military presence on Georgian territory. So far, Russia’s attempts to proceed in this direction are rather unsuccessful. Even CIS countries, which depend on Russia in different ways, don’t want to recognise these entities as independent states. In addition more Western politicians are using the term “Georgia’s occupied territories” and every international organisation is demanding that Russia must follow the obligations set out in the August 12, 2008 Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement. Mainly it is the withdrawal of Russian armed forces from the Georgian territories. The Kremlin brazenly ignores these demands as it knows perfectly well that the West is not prepared to confront Russia over Georgia and apart from verbal demands the West is not prepared to initiate the necessary pressure. Meanwhile Moscow reinforces its military presence in the South Caucasus. The recently signed agreement with Armenia is yet further proof of Russia’s determination to control these regions militarily. Russia has not the slightest intention to make any concessions regarding Georgia. Moreover, the Kremlin hopes that a pro-Russian leadership will come to power in Tbilisi, directly and indirectly supporting certain pro-Russian forces here.

The situation in the occupied territories is rather complicated. Although Moscow says it recognises the independence of these regimes, the law enforcement structures of these puppet states are virtually under its control. This has resulted in serious discontent, particularly in Abkhazia, however it can do little about it. Russia has always kept its eye on this territory as a holiday resort. It wants to establish its presence there not only militarily but also demographically. It is encouraging Russian officers serving in Abkhazia to stay there after their military service is complete. It also wants to relocate those Russians whose houses were damaged during the recent wild fires to Abkhazia and so on and so forth.

Two years are very short period of time in history. Maybe today Russian politicians think that their policy in the Caucasus is successful and irreversible. Maybe that's how it appears in the short term. However in the long run it is a risky situation. Separatism supported by Russia in Georgia will inevitably backfire against Russia itself. The signs are already quite visible, although Moscow wants to hide them. It is difficult to predict when exactly, but considering Georgia’s historical past, we can say that our time will come. Georgia is a tolerant country and has genetic endurance.