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Crisis group prescriptions to settle Russian-Georgian relations

By Messenger Staff
Friday, August 12
International analytical centre Crisis Group published its research on the third anniversary of Russian invasion of Georgia and suggested its prescription for regulating relations between the two countries. There are three possible paths towards regulating relations, of which one is quite straight forward. Both Georgia and Russia should stop their rhetoric about terrorist attacks and agree to carry out either joint investigations or assist investigations carried out by a third, neutral country. Since the war both parties have been accusing each other of terrorist activities. Moscow blames Tbilisi in supporting North Caucasus militants whereas the Georgian side keeps detaining alleged Russian agents and claims to have prevented terrorist plots. However some explosions still takes place in Georgia, one of which happened near the US embassy Tbilisi. As for the Crisis Group's suggestion to carry out a joint investigation, this is hard to imagine with the current state of relations between Russia and Georgia. It is more realistic that both sides agree to assist the third side to conduct an investigation. However this option still seems to be quite difficult.

The second prescription concerns mainly Russia and the west. This option envisages that the west keeps exerting pressure on Russia so that it complies with the terms of the Sarkozy-Medvedev 12 August 2008 agreement. Moscow should return its armed forces at pre war locations and numbers and it should facilitate the return of IDPs to the places of their original dwelling. Russia should also allow EUMM access to monitor the situation in Abkhazian and South Ossetian territories. It also encourages the confronting sides to exchange information about their security forces along the administrative border line between Georgia and its breakaway regions.

The prescriptions sound interesting although they are not new ideas at all. The main obstacle in this direction is the fact that Russia is not going to return to its pre conflict position. Moreover Moscow wants to ratify in its parliament (Duma) the agreement on deployment of military forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It most stubbornly does not want to allow the IDPs to return to their homes and of course it is blocking the entry of the European observers into the conflict zones. In these circumstances, the west does not appear to have the capabilities, or perhaps even the will, to force Russia to comply with its legal demands.

The third prescription suggests direct negotiations without any preconditions between Russia and Georgia. Maybe with the assistance and brokerage of an intermediate body, this would be acceptable for both sides. According to Crisis group this should not substitute the Geneva talks but add to them as further dialogue.

The Geneva talks are so far the only stage on which representatives of the two conflicting sides can meet for peaceful negotiations. However there are still preconditions as Georgia demands de occupation of territories while Russia wants the so called “new reality” to be recognized.

Russia hypocritically keeps repeating that it has no conflict with Georgia and the conflict is between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali; Tbilisi and Sokhumi. However the world community does not recognize the Russian position. Even though the Crisis group recommendations are very interesting, they are not new and will be difficult to fulfill because of Russia's stubborn policy.