Tag Archives: Georgia

Bush Links With Georgia And Angers Russia

George Bush approaches foreign policy with a mindset that regards what he as an American believes is right rather than having any consideration for how an action impacts other nations. A week before leaving office, President Bush has signed an agreement with Georgia with deals with issues of defense, military cooperation and furthering “democracy” in an effort to bind that nation to US interests. According to Georgian Foreign Minister Grigoi Vashadze, “this is a stepping stone which will bring Georgia to Euro-Atlantic structures, to membership within NATO, and to return to the family of Western and civilized nations.” One assumes he means that Russia is not part of the civilized world.

Secretary of State Rice said the pace of Georgia’s integration within NATO depends on the desires of the Georgian people. The issue of Georgia being part of NATO is one requiring extensive thought since such action will only antagonize Russia and embitter relations between the European Union and the Medvedev government. There is no need at the present moment for Georgia to be part of NATO. Newly elected president Barack Obama should have the freedom to consider a host of factors before deciding to support Georgia membership in NATO.

Georgia And Russia Conflict Remains In Limbo

The conflict between Georgia and Russia remains in a twilight zone in which neither side is clear as to the final outcome of events over the past few months. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe(OSCE) was established to monitor the border area between the two nations, but it has decided to end its mission after Russia blocked a proposal to extend its operation. The OSCE viewed its goal as protecting the integrity of Georgia, but neither Russia nor Georgia agrees as to the status of South Ossetia. Is it still a province of Georgia? Is it an independent nation? Is it potentially a part of Russia?

No answers to these questions are possible until Barack Obama becomes president and meets with President Medvedev of Russia to iron out problems caused by the Bush administration. Bush pushed for missile bases which angered and frightened Russia and he most probably urged Georgia to engage in its ill fated invasion of South Ossetia. Hopefully, President Obama can negotiate a compromise dealing with these issues.

Russian War Of Words With NATO

The ongoing issue of allowing Georgia to enter NATO continues plaguing relations between Russia and the West. Dimity Rogozin, Russia’s Ambassador to NATO, expressed his nation’s agreement with the NATO decision to hold off on allowing Georgia to enter at this time. “There is an open split within NATO,” said the Russian, “and it will widen if NATO tries to expand further. The schemes of those who adopted a frozen approach to Russia have been destroyed.” He undoubtedly was referring to French President Sarkozy who opposes Georgia’s entry as well seeks to delay the American plan to construct military bases in Poland.

The solution to the current NATO impasse with Russia is simple. Ask Russia to become a member of NATO and, if missile bases really are needed, take up the Russian offer to have them built in Russia. It is time to end Cold War thinking that Russia is preparing to invade Western Europe. That, is a pipe dream.

Georgia Seeks Compromise

The government of Georgia has used it close relationship with George Bush as the basis of making rash decisions such as the recent incursion into South Ossetia. Bush urged NATO to grant membership to Georgia knowing such action would infuriate Russia, and the Saakashvili government went along with this approach. However, after reflection, the Georgian government is urging NATO to rethink the process of entry into the group. According to Saakashvili, “membership is the goal, how to get there is secondary.” He has finally realized some members of NATO are in no mood, given present economic conditions to get into a conflict with Russia.

It makes sense to hold off on membership for Georgia and allow time to run its course. Perhaps, if Obama can restore decent relations with Russia, issues such as Georgia membership in NATO will not be viewed with such hostility.

Georgian President Warned To Foster Democracy

George Bush has been responsible for fostering many myths about democracy including his claim that Georgian President MIhheil Saakashvili was a defender of a democratic society which was invaded by brutal Russia. The issue as to whether Georgia or Russia initiated the war is still a debate, but there is no doubt Georgia is not a democratic nation. A prominent European think tank said Georgia must follow through with needed economic and political reforms in the coming months. The Brussels based International Crisis Group, said Saakashvili’s administration will “be severely tested politically and economically in the winder and spring ahead.” It charges economic and political liberalism have been thwarted by his authoritarianism and stifling of free speech.

The Georgian opposition is now charging Saakashvili began the war with Russia and insisting democratic reforms are necessary. The Brussels group called for creation of an independent judiciary, elimination of high level corruption and freedom for the media to report the truth, not the government’s view as to what constitutes the truth.

Human Rights Violated In South Ossetia

A major issue used by Russia to justify its response to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was the need to protect people from being killed by invading forces. Human Rights Watch just issued a report which claims South Ossetian militias are “running wild” in the Georgian occupied part of their land. They are doing to Georgians what South Ossetians claimed was done to them by the Georgian army. According to Human Rights Watch, “South Ossetian militias are running wild, attacking ethnic Georgians” and “it is high time for Russia to step up to its responsibilities as an occupying power in South Ossetia and rein them in.”

Russia has an opportunity to prove that it was correct in meeting the Georgian invasion, but allowing South Ossetia to act in brutal ways, in effect, destroys the Russian argument that it was functioning in a responsible manner in the region.

European Union Seeks End To Violence In Georgia

There is no question, the government of Georgia provoked the situation which resulted in war and death. South Ossetia was invaded and had a right to seek assistance from Russia. But, it is time for all parties to end hostilities and get down to the real issue of how best to ensure peace and stability in the region. The European Union is demanding that Russia either provide detailed information about alleged violations of the cease fire in order to allow monitors to actually make certain violence ends. So far, EU monitors have been unable to verify Russian reports which are vague.

The world has enough of such stand-offs between opposing forces. They always begin with refusal on either side to adhere to agreements, and twenty years later they have escalated into violence and hatred. Russia would do well to work for peace in the region.

Dueling Words In Georgia Area

The battle of words has replaced the battle of tanks and soldiers in the volatile area of South Ossetia and Georgia. Georgia charged there was a build up of Russian soldiers on its border while Russian sources claim the Georgians are responsible for any tension in the region. Georgian Interior Ministry spokesperson, Shota Utiashvli insisted, “during the last two weeks, 2,000 additional Russian troops have been deployed in South Ossetia,” and tanks are moving up to the border. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded by pointing out Russia is abiding by its promise to maintain a force of about 3,700 troops. He also claimed Georgia sent special forces into South Ossetia and expressed anger at the murder of the head of military intelligence by Georgia forces.

There is scant doubt rhetoric will die down any time in the near future. Each side is attempting to justify its behavior in recent events. Georgia will not admit it began the entire episode, and Russia will not admit it over-reacted to the entire situation.

Russian Troops Leave Georgia

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama were asked during Tuesday’s debate if they regarded Russia as an “evil empire” and both responded with the Bush line that Russia’s behavior was terrible in Georgia. Both either were unwilling or unable to provide a nuanced response that recognized how Georgia was partially responsible for events leading to a Russian invasion of Georgia. Yesterday, in accord with assurances given by Russia to President Sarkozy, the last of its troops moved out of Georgia and headed back to South Ossetia. They bulldozed any checkpoints and even swept for mines to ensure no Georgian people would be injured after their departure.

Mari Khokhashvili watched the Russian troops depart and told a reporter, “now I feel safe. I hope that life will improve.” She observed dozens of Russian trucks and armored vehicles moving down the road and heading north out of her country. Hansjorg Haber, who headed European Union monitors, said: “We always proceeded from the assumption that the process would be completed by Friday and this is confirmation of the assumption.”

Russia is not an “evil empire” and was not completely at fault in events in Georgia. The initial attack was by Georgian troops who miscalculated and thought they could get away with a swift take over of South Ossetia. It failed and their nation paid the consequences of such rash behavior. It was simply another consequence of Bush policies to threaten Russia.

EU Monitors Enter Georgia Without Problems

There has been considerable talk concerning refusal on the part of Russia to cooperate with European Union observers in Georgia. French President Sarkozy negotiated an agreement that would allow EU observers into area of Georgia that currently are under the control of Russian soldiers. Russian sources have been saying for over a week they would not allow any EU observers to enter areas of Georgia under their control, but when EU observers actually arrived in those locations, Russian troops waved them through. A Russian officer on the spot said, “the situation is very calm” while EU mission had, Hansjoerg Haber said he was initially told not to enter the area, but then allowed in.

Both Europe and Russia are still suffering from the after effects of George Bush’s policies that seek to destabilize rather than to work for peace. His provocative building of missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic created extensive turmoil and now the EU has to find ways of reassuring Russia their security will be protected.