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Russian answer to Georgian offer of dialogue

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, November 30
If we use sports terminology, Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili made the country’s move offering its readiness to conducting dialogue between Georgia and Russia. Now it is Russia’s turn to make a move. So now instead of just declaring that they don’t trust Saakashvili, Moscow should explain the reasons why it is not going to start dialogue, or if it is ready to do so when, how and under what conditions. So far only the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian Duma (Parliament) Konstantin Kosachev responded and though he himself stated that it was his own personal opinion, this is so far the only response from any official.

On November 23 Saakashvili stated that he is ready to start negotiations with Medvedev, adding that Georgia will never use force for restoring control of the occupied territories. Of course it was a kind of a retreat for Georgia from its previous position, when it has stated several times that dialogue will be possible with Moscow only when Russia fulfills the commitments made in the August 12 2008 agreement and withdraws its troops from Georgian territory. For the civilized world, these words of the head of the state declared from the high tribune naturally meant that it was now the Kremlin’s turn to make a satisfactory response. In fact the French Government already made its position clear and once again reminded Russia to make adequate moves and to agree to start dialogue with Georgia. Meanwhile a French statement once again reiterated France’s respect for Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The question remains however will Russia agree to start dialogue or, as usual will it begin to avoid conducting direct negotiations with Tbilisi? So far one can only assume that Moscow will take the second option, trying to avoid direct dialogue with Georgia. As Kosachev stated, Tbilisi should first analyse what happened in reality in August 2008. Secondly it should give up using the term ‘occupied territories’ because the term ‘occupation’ excludes the Abkhazian and South Ossetian population from the political dialogue, and the dialogue should be conducted with them or no dialogue will take place at all. Even though Kosachev says that this is his private opinion, in fact he is repeating Moscow’s official position as the reality for Moscow means that Georgia should accept that Russia was simply helping the Ossetian people survive against ‘Georgian aggression’. The Kremlin therefore denies the row between Moscow and Tbilisi, trying to demonstrate its position as peacekeeper. So Kosachev’s position is as such - Georgia should admit it was an “aggressor,” it started “genocide” of Ossetians and therefore it should conduct dialogue with the Tskhinvali and Sukhumi puppet regimes. Moreover Georgia should admit that these are not Russian occupied territories. Of course this is a cynical position, completely unacceptable for Georgia as agreeing to such demands would mean that Georgia indirectly recognises the breakaway regions as independent entities. So in reality Moscow is pushing the situation into deadlock. Georgia has carried out serious diplomatic work to identify the separatist and Russian controlled territories as occupied territories and whatever Moscow tries; Georgia will not recall its claims. In addition, Georgia should intensify its activities in promoting this position more and more actively as only then will Moscow eventually be forced by international pressure to start civilized dialogue with Tbilisi.