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Balkans tie Russia and Georgia tights 22 janvier 2008

Posted by Acturca in Caucasus / Caucase, Russia / Russie, South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est.
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Kommersant(Russia)

21 janvier 2008

Plagiarizing Pushkin I’d say: “A shadow of Lavrov fell over the hills of Georgia”. The shadow fell on the occasion of the inauguration of President Saakashvili. Mind your, it was Lavrov’s shadow, not that of Medvedev, for example. The Russian foreign minister came to Georgia to have a look at the second edition of the Georgian chieftain.

Apart from protocol courtesies it was also important because Saakashvili won the poll even without the run-off, and, second, he secured 72.5 percent of the vote to support Georgia’s bid to join NATO . Also, he said Georgia needs to mend the tattered relations with Russia, which may mean that the anti-Russian rhetoric in Tbilisi will wane. Mikhail Saakashvili may be pushed to it by another situation. Georgia elected the old president while Russia will soon see a new leader coming to power although he is stigmatized by the idea of succession. Dmitry Medvedev has been largely unseen in the field of foreign policy, and his voice was not heard in critical moments of the Russian-Georgian stand-off. In addition, relations between the country have already hit such a low that there is no way deeper underground. But we should not expect fast progress right now. You can’t start from the clean slate. Even some of the writings on it are hard to rub off. Neither the Abkhazian nor the South Ossetian issue is not going to evaporate in a moment if they are ever going to be resolved. What is more, Russia and Georgia are in for another trial – that of Kosovo.

Everyone knows that Kosovo’s independence will be recognized sooner or later. It is just a question of time. If we follow Moscow’s diplomatic logic, the recognition of Kosovo will open the door for the recognition of independent Abkhazia. This could be contested casually, but it is way too late to try to explain to Russian and Abkhazian societies why one is allowed to some and prohibited for the others. Moscow will be trapped once the Kosovo issue is resolved. Recognizing Abkhazia’s sovereignty is impossible at least because this will create a precedent and set an example to other restive territories in the former Soviet republics – not only for Nagorno-Karabakh. Not recognizing Abkhazia will also be fraught with negative consequences.

Moscow in this case will show that its foreign policy is not worth much, and it will look weak in the eyes of peoples of the North Caucasus where losers are not respected – and by the way, politicians have re-appeared there who are ready to send volunteers to fight for Abkhazia. I suppose Russian guests will also have to discuss this issue in Tbilisi. Sergey Lavrov’s mission is not an easy one. All the more, no one in Tbilisi is really pro-Russian. But let’s keep in mind that there are two parties in Russian-Georgian relations. It is important as ever now how the Kremlin is going to react. Is Moscow going to be ready to give up at least an inch of its stringent course, or does it see no difference between Saakashvili 1 and Saakashvili 2?

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