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Russian Deputy FM Karasin Accuses Tbilisi of Demonizing Russia

By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, December 14
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin accused the Georgian authorities of “creating an “image of the enemy” out of Russia in order to avoid responsibility before its own people for the collapse of the country,” Karasin said in an interview to Russian news agency ITAR-TASS on December 12.

“They [the authorities] are also trying to divert attention from the difficult social-economic and financial situation and violation of democratic freedoms in Georgia. Georgian official propaganda distorted, in an absolutely confrontational manner, even the substance of the agreements on customs and trade issues between Russia and Georgia in the context of Russia’s WTO accession. He however admitted that the WTO deal had potential to become a starting point for improvement."

Karasin, however, expressed hope that Russian-Georgian ties will be restored in the foreseeable future. “I believe, that reasonable and responsible leadership will emerge in Tbilisi over time, which will enable it to revive on a full scale good neighborly relations,” the news agency reported.

According to Karasin, Tbilisi refuses to recognize the irreversible character of the changes taking place in the region. “The independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was won by the population through armed conflicts and severe blockade from Georgia. After 2008, the sovereignty of these countries is also fixed by the acts of official recognition by the Russian Federation and a range of other countries,” said Karasin.

Karasin’s view on the restoration of Russian-Georgian “good neighborly” relations, in his quixotic view of this matter will definitely remain a “hope”, since no political force in Georgia will ever put up with “Russian-imagined reality” regarding the occupation and independence of the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia [Tskhinvali region].

Yet, Karasin's accusations come off as slightly bizarre as Putin’s autocratic regime itself cranks up the rhetoric of external enemies in light of the protests against the disputed election results in Russia recently. Russia has been quick in recent years to make an enemy out of Georgia despite its small size.

Karasin, also the Head of the Russian Delegation at the Geneva talks, launched after the August 2008 war, said that a “new situation” on the ground had emerged and no one could escape from that reality. “Only war can be an alternative to the negotiating process, which is taking into account new political-legal relations in the region,” Karasin said. “I hope that is being realized everywhere, including in Tbilisi,” he added.

Yet, Karasin criticized Tbilisi for refusing to sign, what Moscow calls, a binding non-use of force treaty with Sukhumi and Tskhinvali. Tbilisi does not recognize the puppet regimes of the breakaway regions as conflict parties, due to the occupation of the regions and the Russian military presence.

The Georgian side, namely Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has already made a unilateral non-use of force pledge on the tribunes of various international organizations and is calling on Russia to reciprocate. Moscow refuses however arguing that it is not a party to the conflict and instead calls on Tbilisi to agree on non-use of force treaties with its breakaway regions.

Karasin said that the unilateral non-use of force pledge made by Tbilisi on its own and then also by Sukhumi and Tskhinvali unilaterally helped to move the process forward. He, however, said Tskhinvali and Sukhumi deemed Tbilisi’s unilateral pledge “not sufficient”. He reiterated that Moscow, together with the EU and the US, could serve as “a guarantor of peaceful commitments” by Tbilisi, Sukhumi and Tskhinvali.