Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ANALYSIS - Why EU is more negative to Georgia.

Both Estonia’s Minister of defense Jaak Aaviksoo and Georgian opposition politician Nino Burjanadze has stated that some EU countries look more unfavorable at Georgia now. : “We have to admit that the trustworthiness of Tbilisi has suffered. Some countries clearly see that Georgia acted in an unpredictable way,” Aaviksoo said.

"There are of course many reasons behind this trend, including the one involving Russia’s active work in this direction,” Burjanadze said while speaking at a daily program of Tbilisi-based FM radio station, Ucnobi, which is simulcast by the Kavkasia TV.(Georgia Online)
This has also been repeated by Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration.

I have also noticed this trend, and the negative spin does not only origin from the “usual suspects”, the official Germany and France, but also from certain influential media. So what’s really happening? Why this sudden turn, if it indeed has been so sudden?

Nothing has changed
First I would like to bring to mind that the situation and the facts in the conflict isn’t changed: David L. Philips a senior fellow and the director of the Forum on Georgia and the Caucasus at the Atlantic Council of the United States sums up the facts in an interview with Radio Free Europe Nov. ”Let's make no mistake about it. The events of August 7th and 8th didn't occur in a vacuum. There was a consistent effort by Russia over several years to provoke an armed conflict with Georgia. Clearly, there were miscalculations made on behalf of the Georgian government, but we need to be crystal clear. Russia was the aggressor; it attacked a sovereign state in violation of the international law and the UN Charter”.

Der Spiegels nonexisting OSCE report

Der Spiegel, a former trustworthy German magazine, spent two pages describing a very negative (towards Georgia) report that was about to be released from OSCE. Of course they never mentioned that this report only existed in the journalists fantasy, and among Der Spiegel’s owners, Bertelsmann, which is well known for their hard headed liberalistic political campaigning in Germany. OSCE strongly denied such report ever existed the same day Der Spiegel started to promote the upcoming article. That went past most mainstream media like the leading Norwegian newspapers Aftenposten & Dagbladet. They printed the non-existing allegations towards Georgia without hesitating a second. It must be said that Norwegian journalist basically works on cut & paste basis handling politics and conflicts abroad, and happily printed the “news” with their own spin, still regarding Der Spiegel to be a serious magazine like it used to be under their former well reputed ownership of Mr. Augstein.

Think-Tank Chairman Chipman’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Then the English think-tank doctor Chipman enters the scene through a BBC article 15.09.2008 about a potential mood-swing against Georgia in the EU, (already?):

”In a potentially significant swing of expert Western opinion, a leading British think tank has urged that Nato membership should not be granted to Georgia or Ukraine."The policy of Nato enlargement now would be a strategic error," said Dr John Chipman, Director General of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). "There is no case for accelerating membership for Georgia and Ukraine. There is a strong case for a pause," he said in remarks introducing the IISS's annual review of world affairs, the Strategic Survey. The IISS is highly critical of Georgian actions - in contrast to the support Georgia has received from the US and some European countries, notably Britain. Naturally, if Georgia is faulted, then less blame can be put on Russia, whatever its reaction or, as some hold, its over-reaction. Dr Chipman said that the "balance of evidence suggests that Georgia started this war".

If you “google” Think-Thank Chipman you will find that a substantial amount of his publications are published by Bertelsmann. Business as usual?

BBC is allowed to enter South Ossetia with critical views

Another example: A couple of weeks ago a Norwegian journalist from Norways second largest TV channel TV2 managed to get permission from South Ossetian authorities to access to South Ossetia with a TV team. This journalist, Øystein Bogen, is critical to Russia, and was stopped at a borderpoint west of Khazbegi by Russian troops, leaving his official South Ossetian welcome committee no other choice than to return home without their invited guest. He had to return to Tbilisi. But this week BBC managed timely seen in context of the British U-turn (calling for a resume of the negotiations EU –Russia trade agreement), to get access to South Ossetia in order to make a critical reportage with a South Ossetian angle to the events. The reportage was aired on BBC World Saturday at 20.30. It was not a very critical reportage regarding the Russians deeds in the area, but still some critic concerning destruction of Georgian villages and ethnic cleansing was politely raised, I’ll give him that. The reporter was granted access to all witnesses he could get hold of, still it was less than conclusive about what actually had happened. It is far too soon to draw any conclusions. In fact Illarionov, Putins former economical adviser has been inside South Ossetia, and says that there is no eyewitnesses around, only people that have heard things from the neighbor who heard it from another neighbor. Besides a lot of the Tskhinvali population was even evacuated to North Ossetia before the shelling begun. But the impression left behind after the reportage was a 1. A reckless Georgian attack on civilians. 2. The Russian forces were not prepared for an attack. 3. Russian troops didn’t enter the Roki tunnel before late august Exactly the same as the Russian propaganda machine to a greater extent communicates constantly. But the reportage didn’t prove anything of the kind, it only hinted about it, and left the topic open for speculation. A nice touch. What did BBC have to promise the Russian authorities in order to get there exclusively as the first media?

What is the goal?

In order to get something constructive out of this, we need to look at what the EU want to accomplish: Clearly to maneuver out of an unpleasant situation, and also give legitimacy for abandoning basic principles about defending democracy, and their collective U-turn regarding their 1. September minister meetings demand for Russia to withdraw from Georgia before trade negotiations between Russia and EU was resumed. Second: Georgia will not be able to restore their credibility whatever they do. It doesn’t suit France, England, Germany and Italy. They want “business as usual” and not the Georgian problem on their table. They want oil and gas, and no ideological or “naïve” principles about democracy in their way. EU is after all a monumental business construction with a bureaucracy to handle it. They will gain from discrediting Georgia in order to avoid the growing problem with Russia not giving in. I believe there has been a strong WESTERN campaign right from the beginning to achieve just that, because EU had no joint policy on the matter, and were bound to loose a struggle with Russia, mainly because of their dependence of Russian oil and gas.

There is no Russian propaganda.

It is not, as I have shown earlier in this article (like Burjanadze claims), Russian propaganda that drives this negative attitude. The Russian propaganda is far to primitive to have any real impact. Besides, the Russians don’t HAVE to use propaganda because EU does their propaganda for them: When journalists access their governmental and political sources the sources imply a slight doubt, a small hint that “not everybody in EU think that Saakashvili acted rational, and so on. “You know there’s someone to blame in Tbilisi too…”. “ Saakashvili is unpredictable..”. This way the sources influence the media to create an opinion that can legitimize their lack of action. The sources – the politicians - then use the public talk about a “mood swing” to get off the hook by focusing on simple things like “Who started it the or august”, the least interesting point in this conflict, instead of debating more difficult matters of principles. They use the medias need for simplification to avoid the outrageous fact that they must accept that Russia have violated the UN charter and invaded a sovereign state in order to “do business as usual”.There is no Russian propaganda campaign. It’s a negative EU campaign taking place where powerful business interests together with central politicians have an agenda: Business as usual. Follow the money, is a good advice.

Who benefits from the media coverage?
Not Georgia but both EU and Russia, even when Russia has been conducting ethnic cleansing of thousands, violated the UN charter, invaded a sovereign country, and not complied to the brokered ceasefire agreement. No consequences what so ever for Russia. For Georgia: No MAP, because most EU countries also are members of NATO, “an increasing feeling of instability, unpredictable, lack of trustworthiness. This is a way to avoid taking responsibility for basic human and political principles. This is the way the EU countries gives legitimacy to their U-turn and “business as usual” policy. Dr Chipman, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies concludes already of september that the "balance of evidence suggests that Georgia started this war", while Bertelsman , printer of Chipmans books and articles, owner of Der Spiegel, prints the conclusion from the none existing OSCE report.

Finally the EU saves its moral skin by donating money to reconstruct Georgia, which also looks great in the media.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intersting comment from Yulia Latynina , who are hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio

We have the third wave of opposition to open society. It is coming from quasi-totalitarian countries such as Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya and Russia. They are so wealthy from oil and gas exports that their leaders don't have to worry too much about making good or wise decisions. Like the Melanesian priests, these quasi-totalitarian leaders claim that they -- and not the cursed white people of the West -- have real freedom and a true understanding of peace. And since these regimes are swimming in petrodollars, their leaders make speeches about "true freedoms" while wearing expensive suits that are designed, manufactured and tailored in the West. You won't see them addressing the nation standing barefoot in the sand under a banana tree.

In contrast to outright totalitarian regimes, the quasi-totalitarian regimes do not pose a real danger to the free world. That is why nobody worries much if one of their presidents gives an inflammatory speech about deploying Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. After all, who believes that the leaders of these regimes would ever launch a missile attack against a Western nation in which their luxurious villas and bank accounts are located?

Nonetheless, I hope that quasi-totalitarian regimes won't last forever. And I also hope one day to hear a speech by a Russian version of Obama -- a president chosen by the people who will speak the real truth about freedom in our country.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 1:21:00 pm  
Blogger Eistein G. said...

Dear Olga. Interesting comment indeed. But will we see a Russian Obama? I remember when the Soviet Union launched their version of Concord the Concordski. It was a disaster. Could we possible be looking at an Obamski? :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 2:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fight for democracy in Russia will be won only when western European states free themselves from dependence on the country's energy sources, says Ivan Krastev.

Understanding Oil Prices for Russia:
145 $ - The current world order should be questioned, we demand multipolarity !
130 $ - Moscow should become a new center of economy
120 $ - We are not afraid of the new Cold War
110 $ - Georgia should be crushed!
100 $ - Why is the whole world against us?
90 $ - I think we exaggerated in Georgia
80 $ - We are ready to have international observers in the conflict zones
70 $ - We are biggest ally of US, right Barak?
60 $ - Just a reminder, we still poses numerous nuclear war heads
50 $ - We are ready for negotiations
40 $ - We support Georgia’s and Ukraine’s integration with NATO
30 $ - We demand Georgia’s and Ukraine’s integration with NATO !
20 $ - Vladimir and Dimitry fled, Moscow is Free

Thursday, November 13, 2008 5:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In one of the remarks made in the Tbilisi-based Kavkasia TV’s talk show last month, MP Mamradze said that in August it was already impossible to avert war and the Georgian authorities could not have done anything about it, because the policies carried out by the Georgian authorities in recent years was in itself “a mistake” led to the situation which eventually grew into the August events. These remarks were in stark contrast from the official line adhered by the ruling party."

Thursday, November 13, 2008 6:30:00 pm  
Blogger Eistein G. said...

Dear Olga, your contribution to this thread is unvaluable!
Hahahah. I saw an official Putinomics on Hardtalk last night. I guess what he said more or less are according to the stages in politics vs. oilprice.

Keep it coming!

Thursday, November 13, 2008 7:37:00 pm  
Blogger Eistein G. said...

anonymous: I agree with Mamuradzse. I predicted war 11. july on my blog. But I don't think former years Saakashvili-poitics was wrong. Problem was that Georgia had a politic that just didnt suit Putins reconstruction of Stalins empire. Georgia had to expand towards West in order to get a stable economy without Russian interference, like regular punishment as economic sanctions. Her Putin is all alone in creating the war. And he has been at it for several years.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 7:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see it this way: some western business interests associated with Russia (like Der Spiegel ,Schrøder here, I guess) really want to free up some of their shady dealings with Russian Putin-run economy. That's why these so-called reports cynically try to point the blaming finger on Georgia. I expect some more shameless articles like this in the mainstream media. Twisting and turning some facts while ignoring the others, putting accusatory titles without much substance to back them up, they will be trying to create the smoke screen of doubt in front of less-than-attentive public to make them think twice about this whole business of standing up to Russian aggression.
Somebody really wants to convince Obama to throw Georgia into Russian jaws. It's possible even that some on his team may think that by sacrificing Georgia they can get "more important" issues resolved. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, for example, while campaigning for Obama recently said: "So let 'em invade Georgia. It's right next to them...Which is more important to us Georgia or Israel, frankly?" Google for it. He actually said it. But who was it that said "The belief that security can be obtained by throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion."? Oh yes, it was Sir Winston Churchill.
Sure it's Georgia's fault. And OJ Simpson's wife also attacked him first. And the Czechoslovakians attacked Hitler, didn't they, those rascals?
Of course Georgia deserved this invasion and the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The kind and gentle KGB general Putin was just protecting Russian citizens as he did in Chechnya for example. Right?
Why don't these reports say anything about several days of shelling of Georgian positions and Georgian villages starting August 1st (not denied by anyone). About explosions of Georgian police cars, about at least 2 dead Georgian peacekeepers, and about undeniable build up of Russian forces in South Ossetia (even Russian media spilled this information) and in Abkhazia. About the threats from Ossetian leaders to attack Georgian cities and ethnically cleanse South Ossetia from Georgians? How did hundreds of Russian tanks and rocket launchers get in Java (in South Ossetia) prior to the conflict? Why were Russian planes shooting Georgian drones in Georgia? All of these were illegal Russian activities on the internationally recognized territory of Georgia.
Why are these reports denying Georgia's right to defend itself on their own territory? Were there other options in the face of this crawling Russian aggression? Were they just supposed to roll over and wiggle their tail? The West did nothing to stop the Russians and now some are cowardly trying to blame Georgia for it. Hypocrisy indeed.
It is funny how these half-lies trying to turn Georgia into a villain started to circulate right after Obama's victory. I wonder if it's b/c pro-Russian forces are trying to soften the field to push Obama away from Georgia or is it even worse and it's actually Obama's people preparing the public for their planned betrayal of Georgia so that the celebrity president can concentrate on abstract "change" instead of dealing with Russian aggression?
To those of you still wondering how the Georgians feel picture an 350 lb intruder in your house. Picture yourself trying to eject him out of your house. Picture him beating the crap out of you with a baseball bat and then proceeding to settle in one of your rooms, kicking your family out of it. Picture how your appeals to police result in no action on their part. Picture how the police tell you to negotiate with the intruder instead. And now on top of that imagine local newspapers starting to circulate a story that apparently it was you who attacked the intruder and maybe even broke his tooth. That police cannot confirm that the intruder's bat was showing when you attacked him. And that maybe you are not an innocent as you claim. Picture that.

Friday, November 14, 2008 2:33:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is something puzzling about the sympathy for Russia evident in many quarters of the American left—from Greenwald to Noam Chomsky to Alexander Cockburn and Katrina vanden Heuvel in The Nation (not to mention numerous commenters at sites like and The Huffington Post). When Cold War-era leftists pleaded for a more understanding view of the Soviet Union, they were at least arguing on behalf of a power that, despite its abuses, at least outwardly embraced many "progressive" ideals: free medicine, housing and education, extensive social services, secularism, women's rights, relative social equality. The Putin/Medvedev Russia is the opposite of everything today's left supports: It's a land where billionaires flaunt their $20,000 watches and $350 million yachts, social services are slashed to a minimum, religion is entangled with the state, ethnic bigotry flourishes, labor unions are trampled, and homophobia is rampant and officially condoned.

Why the sympathy, then? A knee-jerk reaction that equates hostility to Russia with red-baiting? Or could it be that to some on the left, the cause of sticking a finger in America's eye is progressive enough?

Contributing Editor Cathy Young is the author of Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood.

Sunday, November 16, 2008 8:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A final note: I did not, of course, mean to imply that sympathy with Putin's Russia is limited to the left. Vlad also has the European fascists in his corner.

Sunday, November 16, 2008 8:36:00 pm  
Blogger Eistein G. said...

I think the leftists romantic relationship with Russia is a leftover from the seventies and mostly shows their lack of knowledge. 70% of the journalists in Norway votes socialistic, but live in the past. People, the grassroot, according to the blogs and comments columns in the digital media, also see Russia as a poor country that finaly managed to become a free nation. That without reflecting much over what a free nation is. There is also a tendency to hate US and look at Russia as an opponent to the uS. As I said, not much is backed by knowledge, as media mostly serves news from US and the west.

Sunday, November 16, 2008 10:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jackson Diehl at the Washington Post notes with disappointment that the Russia-Georgia moment of glory on the front burner of U.S. foreign policy may be coming to an end, and that if the U.S. reaction is soft, the tanks will take the road to Tbilisi:

Plenty of Western leaders, and no doubt some members of the incoming Obama administration, are desperately wishing this flash point away. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, broker of the cease-fire that ended the Russian-Georgian war, has publicly declared that the Russians digging those trenches do not, in fact, exist. All Russian forces are gone from the territory they occupied in August, he recently assured his fellow European Union leaders.

But there the trench-diggers are -- tangible proof that Russia's campaign against Georgia is far from over. And much as Barack Obama might wish to focus relations with Moscow on arms control or containing Iran, he will first have to decide what to do about this standoff -- and about the energetic, impulsive and ardently pro-Western leader on the other side of it.

That voluble man, Mikheil Saakashvili, remains firmly in place in Tbilisi despite Putin's vow (in a conversation with Sarkozy) to "hang him by his balls." But the model Saakashvili pioneered for wedding Georgia to the West looks shaky. His team of 30-something, English-speaking whiz kids liberated the country's economy, touching off an investment-driven boom and defeating a Russian economic boycott. But since the war and the global financial panic, investor cash has disappeared and the government now survives on handouts from the Bush administration and European Union.

But what can Obama do? The president-elect and his vice president, Joe Biden, are on the record as strong supporters of Georgia both before and after the war, notwithstanding Saakashvili's role in triggering the fight. But preserving postwar, post-panic Georgia will probably require an entirely new level of American commitment: not just some kind of security backstop as a substitute for NATO membership but arms to deter Russian tanks; not just advice on cutting taxes and tariffs but billions more in subsidies to keep the country afloat until investors return.

Such help will be taken as incitement by Putin, who may use it to provoke a quarrel between Obama and Europe, or as an excuse to withhold cooperation on Iran. And if the new administration flinches or dithers about whether Georgian independence is worth a confrontation with Moscow? Then the Russian troops along that new frontier will surely stop digging and take the road to Tbilisi, 20 miles south.

Monday, December 01, 2008 10:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

while not disagreeing about the discernible swing in views, the Spiegel actually is not owned by Bertelsmann.

Then again, it's not a good journal to start with, since it always insinuates and scandalises.

Thursday, December 04, 2008 9:27:00 am  
Blogger Eistein G. said...

Anonymous: Yes they do, but through Gruner & Jahr, which is controlled by Bertelsmann. They control Spiegel through this company with 25.5 percent of the shares, and exercise their control with strength.

Thursday, December 04, 2008 8:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Olga look here

The synchronicity of events amid Russia's economic cataclysm continues to amaze, and inform. On the same day the ruble was lowered, for the fourth time in a month, to offset the staggering decline in the price of Russian crude oil (now below $40 per barrel), Russia's sole aircraft carrier accompanied several warships on a journey towards the Mediterranean, "the latest in a series of events," according to The Washington Post, "...aimed to demonstrate the Kremlin's global reach." In the Americas, meanwhile, another Russian warship prepared today to sail through the Panama Canal.

Saturday, December 06, 2008 1:01:00 am  

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