The young face of Georgia distorted

Noyan Tapan News Agency

The young face of Georgia distorted

By Haroutiun Khachatrian

It looks like that in the future, July-August of 2004 will
be marked as the period of surprising transformation of the
policy of the official Tbilisi toward its breakaway autonomies,
South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This is also a period of
disappointment with the actions of the new Georgian leadership.

The reason is simple. Theoretically, there are several ways
to re-gain Georgian control over the separatist regions. One is
to repeat every other day that the “international law” is on the
side of Tbilisi, or in other words, South Ossetia and Abkhazia
are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia (as if
somebody has forgotten about it), and to hope that external
forces (e.g., Russia, USA, OSCE, EU) will push these regions
back into the Georgian control. The second is war and other
versions of forcible actions. Both these options were applied
by the previous leaders of Georgia, and the results were what we
had earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the only way to have progress in these
deadlocked conflicts is the third option. It is to persuade the
people living in these regions that, if they rejoin Georgia,
they will live at least not less safe than now (and preferably,
better). For this reason, when President Saakashvili addressed
in May to the Ossetians and the Abkhazians, calling them
“brothers,” everybody who was interested in re-establishment of
peace and stability in Georgia and the whole South Caucasus, got
new hope that the new leadership of Georgia had chosen that

Alas! Now, two and a half months after that statement, it
is obvious that no progress will be achieved in the observable
future. The reason is again simple – shootings in the South
Ossetia which were absent for the last ten years, have now
re-started, hence the Ossetians saw once again that they would
feel no safer under the Georgian rule. For this reason, Georgia
will not re-gain its control over South Ossetia, even if Russia
pulls out and NATO establishes its base in Tskhinvali. The
Ossetians do not trust the Georgians, and this is the only
fundamental factor feeding the conflict. The same is true for

The Georgians may claim that the provocative actions of
their partners were to be blamed for this escalation. First,
this is not an excuse. When you initiate planting flowers in
January, you should not protest of the treacherous behavior of
Nature, which has sent snow and frost to the flowers. After all,
the instability in Iraq and rocketing of oil prices were caused
by actions of Bush and Blair, rather than of, say, Muqtada

Second, the Georgians also have done a lot to worsen their
own positions. Let’s take alone the episode of arresting the
Russian rockets in Ossetia. I have no doubt that the Georgians
were right claiming the import of these rockets illegal. They
stopped an illegal action of Russia. But instead they lost a
much more important thing, namely, the sense of security among
the Ossetians, who, as before, are linking their security with
the Russians only. As for the Russians, they will continue doing
illegal actions both in Georgia and everywhere possible. And
especially in Georgia, as the Georgians failed to keep another
principal precondition, also declared by President Saakashvili:”
“Not to humiliate the Russians” (how can be combined these
obligations with threats to shoot at tourist boats?). And
Georgia will never have enough resources to prevent these

After the May 26 appeal of Saakashvili a fantastic hope was
born in my head. I thought that, in case of Saakashvili’s success
in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, an Azeri leader may follow his
example and apply to his “Armenian brothers”, thus initiating
reconciliation between the Armenians and Azeris… Alas and
alas! The example is not likely to be a success. The young
leaders of Georgia have displayed no more patience than the
previous ones.

The Noyan Tapan Highlights, August 16, 2004

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress