Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No genocide. Georgia triggerd the war after years of Russian provocations.

The EU-Fact finding Mission lead by Swiss diplomat Ms. Heidi Tagliavini has finished it’s work, and their report was presented to the public today. Analysts anticipated that the report would blame both sides. It of course did. Here's some of the findings from the report:
Wall Street Journal: "The 9-month international investigation into the 2008 war in the Caucasus concludes that Georgia triggered the war, but that Russia had prepared the ground, broke international law by invading Georgia as a whole and that Russia-backed South Ossetian militias conducted ethnic cleansing of Georgian civilians[..] [W]hile there was evidence that regular Russian troops as well as volunteers and mercenaries had entered South Ossetia in Georgia before the start of the conflict on Aug. 7, no evidence was found of the full-scale Russian invasion to which Georgia said it was responding".

Financial Times:
“While the onus of having actually triggered off the war lies with the Georgian side, the Russian side, too, carries the blame for a substantial number of violations of international law”, Ms Tagliavini says. “These include, even prior to the armed conflict, the mass conferral of Russian citizenship to a majority of the population living in South Ossetia and in Abkhazia. It also includes, in terms of an additional violation of international law, the military action by the Russian armed forces on Georgian territory, [which went] far beyond the needs of a proportionate defense of Russian Peace Keepers in Tskhinvali who had come under the [initial] Georgian attack.” [..] Russia’s subsequent recognition of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent must also “be considered as being not valid in the context of international law, and as violations of Georgia´s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” The report rejects outright Russian allegations that Georgia was carrying out a genocide against the South Ossetian population. But it accepts Tbilisi’s charges that ethnic cleansing took place against ethnic Georgians driven from South Ossetia.

Georgian Government pressrelease: "The report goes into detail in confirming the obvious—that Russia invaded Georgia; Georgia never attacked Russia or any other country. It confirms that attacks and warfare happened on Georgian soil. Among its key findings were there":
- The Commission found evidence that at least some units of Russian regular forces—not peacekeepers—entered sovereign Georgian territory prior to August 8. That constitutes an illegal invasion.
- Specifically the report says: “there seems to have been an influx of volunteers or mercenaries from the territory of the Russian Federation to South Ossetia through the Roki tunnel and over the Caucasus range in early August, as well as the presence of some Russian forces in South Ossetia, other than the Russian JPKF [Peacekeeping] battalion, prior to 14.30 hours on 8 August 2008.”
- The Commission also found evidence that separatist forces were armed and trained by Russia—in defiance of international law and Russia’s peacekeeping obligations.
- The report also points out that these Russian-backed separatist forces broke international law by attacking Georgian civilians in the days before August 7.
- The report concludes: “The vastly superior political and military weight of Russia toppled the balance of what might have been possible otherwise, if at all, in terms of arrangements between Tbilisi and its two breakaway provinces.”

New York Times published an article today by the Leader of the EU Fact Finding Mission, Heidi Tagliavini where she discusses the "Lessons of the Georgia Conflict"

So what?
Now it’s up to the PR advisors on both sides to create a favourable spin to the report. I have no doubt that Georgians have a tough job ahead of them, mainly because the report, in stating that Georgia “started” the war, (although Russia spent months preparing for it and provoking it), gives the EU/NATO countries who has taken a stand against Georgian NATO membership an argument. A NATO membership is now definitely postponed in indefinite time. The report will surely also make it easier for EU to do "business as usual" with Putin. But can EU accept that Russia has occupied a sovereign country, violated international laws by ethnic cleansing, recognised two rebel republics, and not honoured the seizfire agreement negotiated by French President Nicholas Sarkozy/EU?
Yes they can. This report will not change anything, because the EU policy towards Russia and Georgia has been established more than a year ago based on facts described in the report. The report doesn't bring new, potential policychanging evidence: Putin got his sphere of influence when he invaded Georgia in 2008.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Medvedev's "friendship"?

According to RIA Novosti russian president? Medvedev still promotes the idea of Georgians having a moscow friendly president like the specimen they have installed in Chechnya, Kadyrov:

"I personally will not deal with President Saakashvili because he committed a crime against his own people, and the people of South Ossetia," but Moscow would be happy to build "good, warm" relations with Tbilisi, "based on hundreds of years of friendship," but not with Saakashvili. (Source: Eurasianet)

What “hundreds of years of friendship” means can be read in the signed handwritten death sentences passed by a number of more or less degenerated former soviet leaders, displayed together with all the broken deals Russia has signed, in the Tbilisi streets on the memorial day for the 2008 russian attack (se picture). Also the Russian troops killing 20 students with gas in 1989 will surely be remembered by the Georgians as an act of friendhip together with all the warmongery, embargos and support of all kinds of separatism from 1991 and onwards? I really don’t know what planet you come from, Medvedev.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is Georgia a democracy?

I came across this interesting report on the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)'s blog.
Koba Turmanidze, Director of CRRC Georgia, and Hans Gutbrod from the CRRC Regional Office have contrbuted to this publication by the Foreign Policy Centre, a UK Think Tank. The publication also includes essays by Peter Semneby (EU Special Representative), Giorgi Gogia (Human Rights Watch) and Giorgi Chkheidze (Georgian Young Lawyers/Ombudsman's office).

It's worth reading. Download as PDF here