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For the united Caucasus

By Messenger Staff
Monday, September 27
During his appearance at the UN General Assembly session on September 23, President Saakashvili of Georgia spoke of his vision of a united Caucasus, which according to him would be the foundation for peace and cooperation. One does not need to be a fortune teller to say that this is undoubtedly an unrealistic vision for the near future. Georgia's appeals towards Russia in terms of its occupied territories remained unanswered.

The idea of uniting the Caucasus under different slogans has been circulating for a long time but no viable moves or steps were made in this direction. Whatever was done did not yield any positive and significant results whatsoever. Rather on the contrary, if we observe the situation in the Caucasus it is a complicated bundle of conflicts, confrontations and misunderstandings.

The idea of a united Caucasus was aired by previous leaders of Georgia, Presidents Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Eduard Shevardnadze. Gamsakhurdia, during his short terms of presidency, saw unification of the Caucasus region on the basic cooperation between him and Chechen separatist leader Dudaev. Of course such an initiative was hostile to Russia, because the idea behind unification of the Caucasus was based on this model on freeing the North Caucasus, as well as the South Caucasus from Russian influence. Shevardnadze aired the united Caucasus idea together with Azeri President Heidar Alyiev in 1996. It was called the Peaceful Caucasus and it was based on the integrity of borders of four Caucasus countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia. Naturally, it put Russia’s and Armenia’s positions under question.

The idea looked tempting for the current Georgian President as well, who as a dress rehearsal some time ago voiced the idea of confederation with Azerbaijan. Whereas, during the UNGA session, he suggested to the world community, as well as neighbouring countries, his vision of a free, stable and united Caucasus. He even suggested that Russia be cooperative in this direction. According to Saakashvili, the Caucasus region for a long time has suffered from different problems, conflicts, confrontation and violence. He has also expressed his optimism that all this should be left in the past and that peace and unity should be promoted. In his speech at the session, Saakashvili solicited the development of different branches of economy such as the energy sector, education, culture and civil society. He proposed creating a so called Black Sea technological university in Batumi which could be financed by the Millennium Challenge project. Similar initiatives could be activated and international community and organizations could sponsor such ventures. Saakashvili appealed to the world leaders with the slogan “assist us to organize peace”.

However, all these very attractive ideas could be disrupted by one key player in the region and this is Russia, which should give up its imperialistic aggressive policy and get involved in the transformation process of the region. Moscow, however, refrained from giving an official reaction, whereas some politicians and analysts expressed their dissatisfaction. However some independent analysts welcomed it in Russia. Of course there was no official response from the separatist leaders of the breakaway regions – Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, as they definitely would not utter a word without receiving preliminary endorsement from their patron in the Kremlin. Russia was in particular irritated by Saakashvili’s suggestion to learn from Georgia on how to transform society and his appeal to those three countries - Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru - to abolish their recognition of Georgia’s breakaway regions. Overall, Saakashvili’s speech was of a constructive nature and not an aggravation of the confrontation. Western commentators highlighted the attractiveness of the idea of unification, peace and stability. They highlighted Georgia’s constructive moves regarding the involvement of the population of its occupied territories in the peaceful processes, promoting cooperation between the peoples of the Caucasus in the North and the South. However, skeptics would say that it will be a long time before these ideas and initiatives yield any tangible results.