Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Finally back from Georgia

I have finally managed to update my website with the last events from my trip to Georgia The 2010 update features a look at the wine production in the Racha region where the famous Kvanchkhara wine is produced. I will take you on a fantastic tour in extreme nature to Shatili, a medeval fortress in the middle of the mountains. I also attend Leo and Nana's orthodox re-marriage, an emerging tradition after decades of repression during communism. After a short visit at the local barbershop in Tkibuli, a stop in Gelati, one of Georgia's most holy places is on the program.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Munic Agreement revisited

I blogged earlier in "Remember the Munich Agreement?"(October 06, 2009). that we should bear in mind this shameful agreement when we look at the international situation concerning Russia and Gerogia. Today I read an article written by Yulia Latynina (journalist Ekho Moskvy ) who makes a point in the similar direction. The artcile is strongly critical to Heidi Tagliavinis /EU's report on the Georgian war, which in principle blames the one who declares war as defence the guilty part, allthough this party only defend itself against growing agression and provocations from a more persistant agressor.
"Tagliavini has created nothing short of a revolution in global politics by introducing a new definition of war. It now turns out that wars are started by those who respond to the actions of aggressors. So, when the Red Army dropped bombs on Helsinki, that wasn’t war. But when Finland responded, it qualified as war".
"Tagliavini, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor-cum-Gazprom PR agent Gerhard Schröder did not build Europe. It was built by their fathers and grandfathers following the end of World War II. At that time, Western Europe was an alternative to the Soviet Union — an alternative to slavery and tyranny. Post-World War II Europe symbolized the importance of never again signing a Munich Agreement with a dictator".
I very much support Latynina's analysis. This is the way the Russian agression against Georgia should be viewd, and not be forgotten and implemented as some sort of new praxis, and excuse for Europe to do business as usual.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Sarkozy finally got it right

According to Pavel Felgenauer there seems to have been another political tradeoff in Paris this week, indirectly connected with the Mistral warship. Sarkozy, for the first time, publicly accepted the Russian invasion of Georgia in August 2008: “In the Georgian crisis I think he [Medvedev] defended Russian interests, when he did what he did” (www.kremlin.ru, March 2).

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Change? I don’t think so.

While many of us might hope that the financial crisis will bring some serious change to Russia, my good Russian friend Oleg explained to me one evening over dinner why that won’t happen. “You see”, he said, tapping his fork on the rim of his plate, then pointing it at me, “Russian’s are extremely adaptable to misery and authoritarianism. To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you a Russian anecdote”:
In an industrial monotown in the south of Russia, they produced during the communism left shoes of a well known Russian brand. The right ones were produced in Siberia. Not to wonder, business wasn’t going too well for the factory, so one day the local apparatchik addressed the workers: “Next week you have to work seven days and get paid for four days. Any questions?” No, there was no questions. The next week, things were as bad as before, and the apparatchik addressed the workers again: “Next month you have to work seven days a week. Nobody gets paid. Any questions?” No questions. A month passed, but things hadn’t improved at all, and he again stood in front of the workers with a sinister look on his face: “Tomorrow every fifth worker will be hanged. Any questions?” A tiny woman raised her hand and stuttered: “Are we supposed to bring our own rope?”

“That’s how the Russian mind works after 80 years of intellectual deconstruction”, Oleg assures me. “That’s why there will be NO change”.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An offer Europe couldn't refuse

"It seems the Russian company Intersputnik made Eutelsat an offer it couldn't refuse on 15 January, holding out the possibility of millions of dollars in business with the media holdings of Russian gas giant Gazprom on the condition that Eutelsat stop doing business with First-Caucasian."

Garry Kasparov has written a great article about Europe's strange "loveaffair" with the totalitarian Russia in todays Guardian. In this article, wich is signed by many dissidents, he asks why Europe supports the criminal regime in Cremlin with arms, like France do, and why Eutelsat, Europe's largest satellite broadcaster decides to deny the First Caucasian Channel place on the channellist after pressure from Gazprom. Is this how we want Europe to react to the systematic violations of human rights in Russia?
I think this article is worth reading.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yeah, Well..

I am painfully aware of the slow frequency of postings lately. There is ofcourse a lot to write about. The French arming Russia, the Russians fighting with the Abkhazians over Georgian property, the South Ossetians forcing Georgian citizens to change their names, and so on.
The reason for me not posting anything is lack of time. I am writing my master thesis, and together with work for my clients there's no time left for blogging. But stay tuned! I will find time to occational rants. A great site for amusement over at the dark side is the official website for the Prez of Abkhazia. They write in english, and always manage to create a surpricing twist to the realities around the Black Sea.

Anyway, this picture i took in one of Tbilisi's Bazars might serve as a reminder of who's calling the shots these days..

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Agrotourism in the Pankisi Gorge

Now there’s a really exciting opportunity to discover a multicultural part of Georgia. The Pankisi Gorge is located on the border between Georgia, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and Azerbaijan, in the very heart of the wild and beautiful High Caucasus. It’s populated by Muslims and Christians, of which many cherish the traditions of both religions. The Pankisi Gorge was earlier mainly known as Georgia’s “black hole”, where after the breakout of the Chechen War refugees and fighters fled. At the end of 2003 the situation in Pankisi got back to normal, however. Most refugees either returned home or obtained asylum in other countries.

Local initiative & Polish Aid
The Association of Pankisi Women, Marshua Kawkaz (“Peace in the Caucasus”), has prepared an extensive tourist and accommodation offer. There are a number of mountain tracks leading from the gorge to the High Caucasus. Agrotourism in Pankisi is organised by non-governmental charity organisation of Kist women living in Georgia - "Marszua Kawkaz" (Peace at Caucasus) which works in cooperation with Polish Foundation for Intercultural Education
on the project "Rural tourism and development of local community in Pankisi" as a part of “Polish Aid”, a foreign assistance program of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland since 2006.

The website
www.pankisi.org presents the offer of agrotourism in the Pankisi Gorge.

Source and picture:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Misha goes to Hollywood.

Moviedirector Renny Harlin is now shooting a movie about the 2008 war in Georgia starring Hollywood stars like Val Kilmer (plays journalist) and Andy Garcia (plays Misha). Georgiandaily.com today writes that ”Georgian media have raised questions about the film's impartiality, pointing out that co-producer Davitaia is a pro-Saakashvili member of parliament”.

Movies are NEVER impartial.
Now, who told Georgian media that film’s are supposed to be impartial? A Hollywood movie should evoke emotions, excitement, horror. It’s entertainment! Was Eisenstein ever impartial? Film is art, film is emotions. film is propaganda, film is aesthetics, film is about dreams…and money. But film is NEVER impartial. And frankly: Who cares about impartiality when top notch actors are protagonists in a pro-Georgian drama (hopefully)?

Russians make great crooks.
Let me remind you that Russians have been perfect antagonists in many films for centuries now. Who seriously want to change that? Remember from the Bond-movies the evil SMERSH Colonel Rosa Klebb?(From Russia With Love) The Russian commander of DDR forces, General Orlov (”Octopussy”), the corrupt General Georgi Koskov (”The Living Daylights”). And of course we remember Viktor Lavrentievich Zokas, better known by his alias of Renard, the Anarchist and KGB-trained assasin in ”The World Is Not Enough” (dismissed from KGB due to his mental instability??Who was ever dismissed from the KGB due to mental instability??). And NOT to forget: the Georgian female villain Xenia Onatop, ex-Soviet pilot and KGB assassin, in ”Golden Eye”. So what can possibly go wrong with a spin like “Russia as imperialist-nation-seeking-world- dominance lead by a mentally instable Renard-like character of Bonditudinal proportions attacking innocent democratic neighbours in cooperation with local mafia/terrorists/traitors” (Feel free to choose).

Come on. This is great publicity for Georgia, even, and hopefully, good propaganda too. Actually, when I come to think about it..Putin..Renard…..?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Meanwhile...on the Dark Side

I fell for this one. Enjoy, my friends!

Analysis of the reasons of the beginnings of wars and armed conflicts:
By the example of the Georgian military aggression in South Ossetia the Defense Minister of the Republic of South Ossetia Lieutenant-General Jury Tanaev showed officers and students of the Military academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Abkhazia that the states which launch wars will be punished sooner or later. Officers and students of the Military academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Abkhazia listened to the lectures of the Defense Minister of South Ossetia with great interest”, the Abkhaz TV reports.

I bet they did. It must have been quite a revelation in all its profound philosophical and ironical depth.

(Lifted from the Official Site of Abkhazian President Bagapsh)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Russia's new military doctrine opens for first strike nuclear attacks in "local or regional wars"

The Russian newspaper Izvestia reports that Cremlin is working on a new military doctrine on first strike use of nuclear arms against “aggressors”. That must include Georgia according to President Medvedev’s statement after the war in Georgia in 2008: “The aggressor has been punished”.

Patrushev: “Nuclear weapons could be used in case of a nuclear attack, but also in 'regional or even local wars.”
According to Izvestia, “Russia will insist on the right to pre-emptive nuclear strikes against aggressor countries in its new military doctrine”, the head of the country's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said.

A greater threat to Russia's neighboring countries

This new doctrine is contrary to US nuclear military policy, which do not allow for first strike attacks. This leads us once more to seriously wonder what’s going on in the Cremlin. Such an aggressive move means a further treat to Russia’s bordering countries and serves no civilized purpose. As we have seen the later period, US’ reset has had no impact on the hawks in Moscow when it comes to serious cooperation on for instance Iran. Judging from this doctrine, one could on the contrary be led to believe that Russia today poses a significant greater danger to civilization than Iran: The combination of Putins restoration of Stalin as "a great leader", Russia claiming a priveledged sphere of influence in the former Soviet space, and now the suggested doctrine of first strike use of nuclear arms against local/regional wars and "agressors" should really start to worry all governments in the modern world.

Who's the target?
Georgia certainly will have to seriously consider it self as a prime target for a nuclear attack from Russia. The latest Russian accusations of Georgia supporting and aiding Al Quaeda operations in Russia is a reminder of the fact that the war is not over. Russia uses all means available to portray Georgia as an aggressor, and thus threatens Georgia with first strike use of nuclear arms if neccessary. Judging by Russia’s willingness to use excessive force in the attack on Georgia in 2008, this represents a real threat to Georgia and also Ukraine, where the situation on the Crimean peninsula is gradually heating up. In fact the whole of North Caucasus might be targeted due to uprise and intensivated terrorist attacs in several regions.
Sources: DPI, AP, Izvestia.
Link to the doctrine (Curtesy of V.Konnander): http://www.scrf.gov.ru/documents/99.html

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The "Georgian Radio-Liberty swindle"

Last week Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty sent an official letter to the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia, in which the radio station proposed to open a representative office in the republic, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba (picture) told Apsnypress. Shamba gave his consent, but set some serios conditions to be met for the free press:

“I stand for the expansion of the freedom of speech; the main thing is that it should have nothing to do with Georgia in any way”.
So the RFE/RL office was reluctantly ok’ed. But what about broadcasting? That's a whole other departement, and a very different head: Namely The head of The Department of Governmental Information and Mass Media of Abkhazia, Christian Bzhania. He is extremely worried about this unheard of proposal of free press broadcasting inside Abkhazia. He strongly objects to the very thought of it, and guarantees this won’t happen on HIS watch:
“An attempt to start Radio Liberty's broadcasting over the territory of Abkhazia will be illegal with all the respective consequences.[..]The worst time, the time of pirated radio-penetration into "enemy's territory" seems to linger behind the editorial office of the radio station.[..] Should it start broadcasting, we’ll take tough measures, including technical ones, up to radio signal suppression. [..] We have such means. Then, all this Georgian-Radio-Liberty swindle will go broke [..]”.

It’s the US, stupid!
To further contribute to rising mr. Bezhania's bloodpressure, one might add that the radio-station is financed partly through US Congress, and is what Hillary Clinton calls a great example of Smart Power. The obvious problem with free press is that it tends to interfere with the political agenda from time to time, and not to forget: also with the official Russian interpretation of the sole concept of free press and freedom of speech. I guess the radiowaves will experience some obstacles on their way to Abkhazian ears.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in short: Their journalists provide uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate. RFE/RL broadcast to 20 countries in 28 languages, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Russia. With over 400 full-time journalists, 750 freelancers, and 19 local bureaus. RFE/RL's mission is to promote democratic values and institutions by reporting the news in countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. Based on the conviction that the first requirement of democracy is a well informed citizenry, and building on over a half-century of surrogate broadcasting.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Remember the Munich Agreement?

I came to think that a reminder of some historical events could be on it's place in these all cuddly relation reset times:
(Pics and facts from Wikipedia).

Neville Chamberlain
, announcing the Munich Agreement:
“[T]he settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine[..]"My good friends, for the second time in our history a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time."
Winston Churchill, denouncing the Munich Agreement: "We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude...we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road...we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: "Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting". And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time".

The Lessons of Munich: In
international relations, the Lesson of Munich asserts that adversaries will interpret restraint as indicating a lack of capability or political will or both. The name refers to the appeasement ( the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding an armed conflict which would be expensive, bloody, and possibly dangerous) of Hitler's Nazi Germany in negotiations toward the eventual Munich Agreement. Many scholars argue that Neville Chamberlain's capitulation to German demands guaranteed eventual war as Hitler believed he could do as he pleased without the other Great Powers going to war to stop him. Steven Chan describes the moral as "appeasement discredits the defenders' willingness to fight, and encourages the aggressor to escalate his demands."

Thursday, October 01, 2009

France would like to help Russia assault their neighbours “more swiftly”.

According to Reuters, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said France might sell a French assault ship to Russia. The Mistral-class ships can be used in amphibious assaults and can carry tanks, helicopters, and other armoured vehicles and personnel. The purchase would be Russia's biggest arms purchase from abroad.
“If Russia had had this kind of ship in its fleet, it could have moved more swiftly in the Black Sea during last year's war with Georgia. Instead of taking 26 hours to perform certain unnamed tasks, it would have taken the Russian Black Sea fleet 40 minutes with such a warship”, naval commander Vladimir Vysotsky said.
"This political agreement should be reached, I think, but it's not up to me to decide ... concerning this wonderful warship," Kouchner told Moscow's Ekho Moskvy radio station on Thursday.
This puts Sarkozy’s negotiation of the size fire agreement between Georgia and Russia, which Russia has declined to fulfil, in a strange light. Georgia is also a key energy transit route for oil and gas from the Caspian sea to Europe. That makes this deal even more irrational. Looking at France as a NATO and EU member I honestly can’t understand what goes on in the French political heads. The monumental stupidity of such a transaction is only surpassed by the amount of money the french gets for this vessel. And yes, it's more than 30 silvercoins.

Causal Attribution. Where the Tagliavini report plays in the hands of Russia.

According to Entmann, framing essentially involves selection and salience. To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described.[..] Frames, then, define problems – determine what a causal agent is doing with what costs and benefits, usually measured in terms of common cultural values; diagnose causes – identify the forces creating the problem, make moral judgements – evaluate causal agents and their effects, and suggests remedies – offer and justify treatments for the problems and predict their likely effects.
Framing divert attention to certain aspects of the matter too. This brings us to the next level: Causal attribution. Simplified this can be illustrated by Iengard’s study Framing Responsibility for Political Issues:The Case of Poverty. He shows that attitudes for a large portion is created by media framing. The context in which political questions are presented has a significant impact on how people think about them, and how much guilt they attribute to the involved. To be held accountable for a result is largely the same as being the cause of the result.
So when media, in it’s limited formats shouts out with their five words headings that “Georgia started the war”, and leaves out the fact that Russia was creating the pretext of the conflict by numerous provocations, handing out passports to the rebel-republics population on Georgian territory, arming them, sending troops into the republics and so on; the public will attribute responsibility for the war to Georgia, which is, I think most will agree, to stretch the reality a bit far and absolutely wrong, if you read the report and it’s conclusions.
The report therefore should have focused on “what was the reason for the war”, rather than “who started it”. Then the picture would have become more complicated, but still more just. Georgia maybe fired first, and to protect Georgian citizens, but that was in reality a minor part of a largely complex picture. Sooner or later Georgia would be forced to defend itself, and what Russia was after was to replace Saakashvili and to secure an unacceptable sphere of influence in the old soviet territories against NATO expansion. For months they have prepared for this war, analytics like Ilarionov, and the report states clearly.
This is too complexed for the media, which need to simplify their stories and framing. The outfall is: Georgia started the war, Georgia is to blame. Which maybe was the aim for the report, because it is unthinkable that the report would have blamed Russia, as it rightfully should, given the pretext and the political consequences for EU.

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

Saturday, August 29, 2009

When Food Talks

It’s fair to say that chickens are the most domesticated animal you can find. I always buy 8-10 live chickens when I go to our dacha in Racha. I enjoy having them around, providing great meat. This year I bought older chickens than usual because I wanted to test out egg production. What is crucial to find out is WHERE the chickens lay their eggs. You can run around looking for days. But as it seems, chickens starts to cackle intense when they have produced an egg. You then need to listen, and look from where they come, and scrutinise the surroundings nearby. Then you might find the secret place. When you find it, then mark the egg with a text-marker or pencil, and leave it so the chicken feel safe it’s a good spot to lay eggs. The next day the same thing will happen, and then you can take the next egg, leaving the marked one. One of the chickens in secret managed to adopt the bathroom as nest. The bathroom on our dacha has a separate door which can be accesses from outside the main building if left open. One day we found an egg in the basket with dirty clothes.
Why this cackling after they have laid eggs??
We have to go to science and ask this question. In Georgia there is a firm believe that the chickens cackle because they have a sore ass after pressing this huge egg out. I am not so sure. It seems like a major designflaw from nature if this is the case, so I would test the following hypothesis in a social constructivist perspective: Chickens cackle when having laid an egg because the want to make the other chickens aware of their deed, and then be recognised as important members of the chicken community.
Dr. Beaumer and his chick-talk tapes to the rescue!.
One should think that a quick “google” would solve the mystery, but no. Today chickens mostly is kept inside in extremely tight cages, and therefore there are no need to go looking for the eggs, so the information is scarce. But fear not, The Animal Welfare Movement found the traces of Fowl linguist Dr. Erich Baeumer of Wiedenau, Germany, who has been studying chickens since 1954. The good doctor proclaims that he keeps a list of 30 sentences which are part of a spoken international chicken language, be it an Indian Jungle fowl, a Russian Orloff rooster, an Italian Leghorn, a Cornish cock or a New Hampshire Red. Again accoring to the Animal Welfare Movement Dr.Baeumer was only eight when he realised that he could understand the chickens around his house. "It was an intuitive understanding, I could actually tell what they were saying. I began to spend hours with them; they became brothers and sisters to me," he says. In 1954, he started working with Professor Erich von Hoist at the Institute of Behaviour Physiology near Munich. After recording hours of chicken talk, Dr. Baeumer selected examples of clear-cut chicken "sentences" that could be related to records or photographs of specific actions. Dr. Baeumer’s chick-talk tapes have been played at universities in many countries (Animal Welfare Movement).
The hardcore facts about the chicken and the egg
Hens make a cackle when they have laid an egg, but Dr. Baeumer does not think they are boasting or saying, "Thank heaven that’s over." He believes that it all goes back to the days when wild hens laid eggs in hidden nests. After each delivery, the hen gave a loud cackle to regain contact with the rest of the flock. "Chicken behaviour is not too different from human behaviour," says Dr. Baeumer, " Nor is the chicken language" (Animal Welfare Movement).
I must remember that when I chop off the heads of those poor chickens.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Russian Occupation and refugee camps

After traveling around in Georgia for one month in July/august, I have a clear impression that this war is not over yet. Numerous provocations from separatists/ russians shooting at EUMM personnel, the pathetic visit to South Ossetia by miniputin in july, machoputin’s visit yesterday to Abkhazia where he pledge 500 mill $ for more armed forces, together with the ongoing Russian propaganda campaigns shows this clearly. The EUMM personell is doing their job as best they can, and is very visible around the separatist enclaves.
The refugee camps
Several thousands Georgians have been driven from their homes which has been thoroughly looted before burned down by russian and ossetian militia. For those reading the analysis starting to come out now, (that is besides Der Spiegel and other more or less unserious journalists) it’s clear that Russia preplanned the war and must without any doubt be regarded as the aggressor. And now it seems that ethnic cleansing is rewarded with more territory. A process Russia has taken active part in since 1992 in Abkhazia, where the total number of displaced people now amounts to round 250 000. The many huge refugee camps is evidence. I have seen a lot of them, newly erected around the Russian occupied territories.
NATO acts like the battered wife
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the new NATO leader, proclaimed that he would pursue true and close cooperation with Russia. I seriously think he must spend more time out of office before doing business with a nation, now run by FSB, that systematically have broken every international and national agreements and laws, not forgetting human rights, since Stalin started the destruction of the nation. Surely NATO must have learned at least a tiny bit from the shameless lack of action in august 2008. But I am not sure of that. European politician are book keepers, not political leaders fit to defend principles of integrity and democracy. That includes Norway to, where foreign minister and wonderboy of “dialogue” Jonas Gahr Støre is quick to condemn actions in Zimbabwe and Burma, but quickly hides under the table when Russias systematic violations of everything a modern society holds high of values and principles is mentioned. This lack of action reminds me about the psychology of battered wives trying to please their abusive husbands without much success. The battering is a pathological condition impossible to cure with any “dialogue”.
The EU Factfinding Mission Report
The EUFFM report about the war in Georgia will be published in September. Is it political possible to blame Russia? I think no, given the political climate in Europe? We’ll see…The main questions that should be asked is this: Who gained land in the war? Russia gained 20% of Georgia, a sovereign nation. That ends the blame game.
Russia is deteriorating rapidly
Russia is on a steep downturn both democratic and financially. Hopefully that will bring down the regime, and give space for development for Russians, who more or less live in total confusion givet that the regime controls all information. Not even Europe’s last dictator Lukashenko, in Belarus follows the Russian threats and directives anymore. Only Hamas has formally recognized the breakaway regions, whatever that gives of credibility.
Medvedev legalize military action outside Russia.
Medvedevs new law proposal will allow Russian troops to intervene wherever there can be found a scent of Russian genetics being ”mistreated”. This should seriously alarm the Baltics and Ukraine. The Russian leadership is on a path which is dangerous for all nations having Russians with double citizenship as a part of the population.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Georgian War II?

Reading the statements of Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov makes you think that the man is clearly living in another world than most of us. I long ago decided it was bad for my health to listen to the speeches of this truly haunted man, but sometimes I can’t help it, reminding my self that he after all is the mouthpiece of Putin I & II.

Mr. Lavrovs description of the “emerging new situation in trans Caucasus” is a masterpiece according to the DSM IV diagnostics. In his statement he points out Russia’s efforts to come up with a solution to keep OSCE observers in Georgia, while his soldiers are conducting the military exercise Kavkaz 2009, also INSIDE Georgian territory in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, with 8-10 000 soldiers and 200 tanks. The fact that Russia both manage to block the mandate for OSCE as well as UN observers is a clear evidence for Russia’s good will in the negotiations. Besides that means no witnesses. Russia is still in violation with the ceasefire agreement, and UN agreements signed by Russia on Georgian sovereignty. And now both Lavrov and Rogosin "fear" the Georgian agression and troop build up on the border to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Sure, Georgia is keen to take on Russia which has stationed a huge amount of missiles and tanks inside the rebel republics, inside Georgia. What a monumental lie!

At the moment we are facing the same situation as in July 2008. Then, as I was staying in Tbilisi, and I was convinced that there would be a Russian invasion based on all the garbage Lavrov poured out in the media. (I wrote it on my blog 11. july 2008.) I think the war came as a surprise only for the media and the European politicians. Will there be a second this July or August? I really find it hard to say. One the one side it would be a devastating catastrophe mainly for Russia. (That is thinking like a rational person). A war could by no means be legitimated with lies and propaganda like the first one (the “humanitarian rescue mission” would be to plain even for Russians). It would completely alienate Russia from all its bordering neighbors, and in long term perspectives mean isolation. For Georgia it will mean to be temporarily be drawn back to the middle age, where the Russian cleptocracy resides. But thinking like a true Cremlin hoodlum it might just makes sense: It’s like peing in your pants to maintain some warmth in the winter. It’s the control of Georgian pipelines, and the ability to give Europe and USA a black eye. But then winter will set in, and your pants aren’t really that warm anymore. Especially not in the Caucasus.

So now everyone awaits Obamas mission to Moscow on the 6th of july. Most analysts think that his performance would mean the difference of “invade” or “not invade” Georgia. I really hope Obama will be firm, and won't proceed with the naïve "reset" project. Russia needs US as an enemy in order to keep the current cleptocracy at the power, thus persuing the "reset" project will only serve to project US as weak, and confirm the image Putin want's to create.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Analysis: Norwegian newspaper's coverage of the war in Caucasus 2008

As a part of my master studies in “Media, Communication and ICT” at NTNU, I did an analysis of the Norwegian newspaper coverage of the war in Caucasus. The analysis shows how the two major Norwegian newspapers (Aftenposten and Verdens Gang) framed the war, and how loyalty to the Governments foreign policy can be found in their largely one sided pro-western coverage of the conflict. It also shows that both the opposition (conservatives) and the government (social democratic) for a large part agree about Norwegian foreign policy. The politicians didn’t seem to pay much attention to the war and the possible consequences for Norway as a result of Russia’s new aggressive modus operandi. This can be portrayed as either political indifference among Norwegian politicians, or as a consensus between the Norwegian Government, the opposition and the media, where to show restraint in critizising Russia is imperative for national security. The news media might, as a result of this, seem to under-communicate Norway’s challenges in the northern areas regarding a weak defence, NATO’s unwillingness to confront Russia in the Caucasus; signalling a division in the alliance indicating less commitment to NATO Article 5 in the case of a potential Russian threat in the race for the Arctic oil and gas.

Download and read “A Cold War in the Caucasus?” as a PDF. Language: Norwegian. Grade: A.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A new war? - Russia’s Caucasian Mess

“Territorial integrity is a thing of the past”, Russias UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin (picture) said during the attack on Georgia last summer. It’s wise to have that statement in mind as we now learn that the Russians, like last spring, is planning their big military exercise Kavkaz 2009 in June, and the South Ossetians have began shooting at Georgians (Civil.ge) in the buffer zone (29.05.09), maybe to prepare the ground for yet a Russian “humanitarian intervension” like last year? They have also deployed more troops, missile launchers and tanks along the borderzones.The unstable situation has affected the whole of Georgia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia appear to be in deep political crisis, with various political forces fighting for power. The mess Russia has created after its invasion of Georgia in 2008 is considerable. As Solzhenitsyn pointed out, a Federation is always based on a mutual wish for a beneficial unity, a centripetal force, not the Russian centrifugal military invasion and oppression strategy. So naturally what Russia has achieved by its occupation of Georgian territory is more or less chaos and hostility everywhere. Maybe more than they wished for.
Political turmoil in Georgia proper
In Tbilisi, the opposition has gone completely off the rails lead by a singer called “Ucnobi”, the unknown. Gathering 60 000 at his political rallies, this oppositional figure, presumably perceived as a sort of romantic revolutionary hero, has his own TV show where he pours out his wrath in a small cell, only interrupted by frequent drinking and smoking. The man has no political program, and no identifiable political direction. He is supported by several opposition figures (also without any program or direction) like former Saakashvili allied and Parliamentary speaker Nino Burdjanaze and her compatriot Salome Zurabishvili, determined to commit political suicide as soon as possible. The goal is to topple president Saakashvili, which remains calm and relatively unprovoked judging from the lack of interference with the bold demonstrators. Blocking railroads and main roads, alienating it self and the vast majority of Georgians that wants peaceful reforms is playing it directly into the Russians hands. Destabilization and riots only serves the Russian Federation. The former Georgian Ambassador to the UN, Irakli Alasania, leader of Alliance for Georgia, is in spite of this a point of light. His fraction has turned from activism to more democratic means of protest, and wants to negotiate with the Saakashvili regime instead. A very smart move:According to Caucasus Research Resources Centres 20% - 30% of the population support the government. 20% support the more strident opposition. 50% to 60% are more or less undecided politically. Put in other terms: 20-30% want stability 20% want change, even if this involves risk, and 50-60% want significant change, but also sufficient stability. This means that for the opposition, they could have found up to 80% of the population agreeing with them that they want change -up to a point, and only if stability could be guaranteed.
Abkhazia – Soon to be swallowed by Putin.
According to the De facto Vice-President of Abkhazia Raul Khajimba, which is supported by Moscow and seen as the guarantor of Russian expansion in Abkhazia, there is a “deep governmental crisis” in Abkhazia. Khajimba says that President Baghapsh uses force against the opposition in Abkhazia, and accused Baghapsh of behaving in a “non-transparent” way when giving control over the Abkhazian-Georgian administrative border to Russian forces. Baghapsh is also accused by the opposition of “selling” the country to Russia. The majority of Abkhazian strategic and economic facilities are owned by Russian citizens and that the de facto authorities are drafting a law which will allow Russians to purchase Abkhazian land. Baghapsh has already signed a deal giving the Russian ownership to railroads and airfields for ten years ahead, given permission to drill for oil off the shores of Abkhazia, and finally given space for the mighty Russian Black Sea Fleet.
South Ossetia – dictatorship, corruption and nepotism
Separatist leader Eduard Kokoity is expected to extend what the opposition calls his tyranny over South Ossetia when the Russian-backed rebel region holds an election on Sunday. The opposition say Kokoity wants to change the constitution so that he can run for a third term in 2011 and an overwhelming success in the parliamentary election would help him do this.South Ossetia awaits Parliamentary elections on May 31. Representatives of the South Ossetian opposition have stated that the current separatist leader Eduard Kokoity is using “dirty tricks” to keep his party in power. Some opposition members have accused him of “stealing Russian money” destined for the rehabilitation of the region after the August 2008 conflict. “A dictatorship is being established in South Ossetia right now and the President Kokoity and his brother are stealing Russian humanitarian aid and budget funds destined for rehabilitation,” said a Moscow-backed ethnic Ossetian, Jambulat Tedeev. The South Ossetian opposition believes the election will be rigged, and will organize protests against Kokoity

Sources: Temur Kiguradze, Guy Faulconbridge - Reuters, Georgia Dayly, Caucasus Research Resources Centres
and Civil.ge

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

OSCE on Russian ethnic cleansing of Georgians

It has been a while since last post on the blog, but now, as the Norwegian High Commissioner on Nationa Minorities in OSCE, Knut Vollebæk has made a statement on the situation in the russian-occupied parts of Georgia, I decided to post his statement as published by Civil Georgia, April 14:
Knut Vollebaek, the OSCE high commissioner on national minorities, called on the authorities in breakaway Abkhazia “to put an end to the pressure being exercised on the Georgian population in the Gali district.” “I am deeply concerned about recent developments in the Gali District of Abkhazia, which have led to a deteriorating security situation in the region” The OSCE commissioner said that the pressure on local ethnic Georgian population was exerted through “the limitation of their education rights, compulsory ‘passportization’, forced conscription into the Abkhaz military forces and restrictions on their freedom of movement.”
He also expressed “regret” about the decision of the Abkhaz leadership to close the administrative border, “which makes it increasingly difficult for the population to maintain family contacts, access necessary health care or sell their products on the other side of the de facto border.”
“I am concerned that such coercive practices, which violate international law, may further destabilize the already fragile inter-ethnic situation in the region and force many Georgians to leave,” Knut Vollebaek said. “I reiterate that international norms and standards require that any authority exercising jurisdiction over population and territory, even if not recognized by the international community, must respect the human rights of everyone, including those of persons belonging to ethnic communities. I urge the de facto authorities to desist from all intimidation and the imposition of Abkhazian ‘citizenship’ on and forced conscription of Georgians living in the Gali District. I also urge the de facto authorities to respect the education rights of Georgians residing there and to allow Georgian students in the region to study in the Georgian language.”
“While I understand and welcome the desire of the de facto Abkhaz authorities to strengthen the Abkhaz identity and language, I would like to stress that this should be done in a way that does not negatively affect the rights of persons belonging to other ethnic communities in the region to maintain and develop their own language and culture.”

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Russian Ambassador to Norway criticizes media coverage.

Tonight I spent 40 kr, or 6 dollars to listen to the Russian Ambassador to Norway Sergej Andrejev complaining about the negative media coverage Russia has gotten lately. That is, the first thing he wanted to make clear was that “I’m not complaining”.

So what misconceptions did Norwegian and Western media have? Here are some other grains of gold which I think sums it up from the Ambassador:

"Media should stop interfering with internal Russian affairs."
"There is no more journalist killed in Russia than other people."
"Georgia started the war, and Medvedev defended Russian citizens."
"Several hundred civilians were killed by Georgian forces in South Ossetia" (Ed. comment: Official Russian numbers are 162 soldiers, separatists and civilians killed in SO)
"Western media does not take in consideration the kind of difficult situation Russia is in."
"Russia is a democracy."
"Politics and moral should not be mixed together."
"If it were not for the Red Army, Estonia, Lithauen and Latvia would have been a part of The Third Reich, so don’t complain."
"You see what you see" (About planting the Russian flag on the North Pole under water)

Difficult questions?
As this was a meeting with debate in the student society in Trondheim, students could ask questions. The difficult ones about the Georgia war and Russian media the Ambassador at large”didn’t understand”, and allowed himself to take an effort in humiliating one critical students in particular on his use of English language (the meeting was held in English). “Maybe the student rather would present his questions in his native language?”

A Newspaper man without “cojones”
To defend the Russian critic of Norwegian media coverage the Studentersamfundet had invited Kjell Dragnes, the news editor for foreign affairs in Aftenposten, one of Norway’s dominating newspapers. He spent most of his time speaking about his love to Russia. Part of his heart was still there after years living in Russia, he said. I think maybe the debate would have been a lot better if a sharp and “heartless” journalist had participated instead. Dragsnes’s defence of the media was, to put it mildly, like that of any newspaperman standing side by side with a Cremlin bureaucrat, more or less missing.

NUPI represented the science.
NUPI, The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, was represented by Elana Wilson Rowe. Now the truth would emerge, (at least I thought) but she presented only a mild general critique of Russian democracy, and was in a way very difficult to make much sense of. But she sounded great! I think she would become a great politician. She repeatedly made a point of how complicated the Georgia-Russia conflict was without making it much clearer to her self or the audience. She held an attitude that Georgia started the war, missing the fact that EU has set up a committee to investigate that particular issue, also taking in consideration that the war has it’s roots in the early nineties and later events building up to the conflict.

Same shit, same wrapping
I usually manage to get aggravated listening to debates about Russia, but this level was too low to even get the slightest excited. I don’t think Rusian officials have a clue about what democracy is, what media’s function is, and how to behave. Personally I think Vitaly Churkin and Sergei Lavrov present their dilutions with more style and assertiveness. But they also started to criticize the media when they were caught in lies on TV during the Georgia war.

The verdict
The audience at Studentersamfundet held a slightly tepid attitude to the Russian Ambassador if judged by the moderate applause he got. The opponents failed to present any critical view regarding the armed conflicts, the frequent embargos, and the ethnic cleansing Russia has been conducting in Georgia. Nobody confronted the Ambassador with the fact that their “defence” of Abkhazia also made it possible to relocate the entire Black Sea fleet from Ukraine to the “defended” and “recognized” Abkhazia. One thing is clear: Negative media coverage of Russia is something Russia have fully deserved, and in much larger amount than the commercialized western press have managed to cover. The Ambassador fails to understand that Russia’s own actions are the sole reason for negative media coverage, and by criticizing it he makes it clear to us all that Russia is everything that the press claims it to be.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry X-mas!

I wish all my readers a great x-mas and a happy new year!

The Russian trail of destruction

I will try to sum up the last five months at the end of the year. This last months Russia has made a mockery of UN, OSCE, Europe Parliament, EU and NATO. By these actions Russia has shown itself as a totally irresponsible nation not ready to take part in constructive democratic international processes:

Violated the UN charter.

Vetoing every resolution from the UN Security Council.

By veto shut down OSCE’s mission in Georgia from 31.12.2008 in order to derail the Geneva talks and reduce possibility of international observation of atrocities in the rebel regions.

Declared the President of the European Parliament unwanted in Russia after having condemned the Russian invasion of Georgia.

Refused to honor the EU brokered a cease fire agreement with Russia by still occupying parts of Georgian proper, and keep a much larger amount of troops in the rebel republics than agreed upon in the cease fire agreement.

Allowing separatists to fire at EU / OSCE observers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Performing large scale ethnic cleansing in cooperation with the criminal separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia even after the ceasefire agreement.

(Pending: High probability that Russia will veto the prolonging of the UN mission in Georgia - UNOMIG)

But not only Russia is to blame.

We do not expect constructive actions from Russia anymore. The country has under Czar Putin and his KGB become an antidemocratic sewer of nationalism, corruption and aggression leading the nation into a state of collective ignorance and pathological denial. Europe has shown its fundamental lack of principles and will to act on whatever is left of them. Russias destruction of Chechenya and Ingushetia has been accepted without ant significant protests, and in the case of the Russian assault on Georgia Germany has been the frontrunner for sabotaging any meaningful action towards Russia by setting its own business interests first and strongly oppose MAP for Georgia and sanctions against Russia (Germany is Russia’s largest trade partner in the west.). This is just a continuance of former Chancellor Schroeder’s (now a CEO in Gazprom) deal with Gazprom regarding a new energy pipeline from Russia to Germany: A reaffirmation of the Molotov Ribbentrop pact, as officials in Poland stated. Along these lines Norway is a loyal follower, preventing Georgia getting anywhere near a NATO MAP. From being a sharp critic of the Russian invasion, and calling for actions, Britain also changed its view on the matter. Gordon Brown just found out that it was more honor in handling the financial crisis. There he, as the grey economist he is, really could shine! Sarkozy and EU negotiated a seize fire agreement with Russia, but have let the Russians in from the cold without facing any real consequences from breaking the agreement on several points. This past six months has above all shown that Georgia is on its own. It seems the only hope for Georgia is a strategic partnership with the US, allegedly in progress.

Russia, a gigantic backyard

What goes on in Russias so called “backyard” is clearly up to Russia to decide. Ethnic cleansing is hereby approved by EU, NATO and UN. But the term backyard is an awkward one. Russia being a horrendous backyard in it self leaves not much recognition to Georgia, which unlike Russia has shown great progress in democracy, legal system and economy. In that perspective Russia looks more like Georgia’s backyard: It’s in Russia journalists are being killed, opposition arrested, KGB rules and no progress is being made in terms of modernization. Russia is in a reversed process with more power and money to the few selected, and where major human rights are violated on daily basis. Putin plans to increase spending on defense systems while most of Russia’s nuclear reactors in powerplants and ships/subs need to be replaced within 2014. Who’s going to clean up this mess? They surely haven’t done much about their scrapped nuclear submarines in Murmansk so far in spite of having received several millions from among others the Norwegian government. And with an economy soon in ruins and Putins promise of substantial spendings on new missiles, aircrafts and tanks it’s not likely Russia will end up as anything else but the worlds best defended radioactive scrap yard.

Saakshvili loosing confidence in Europe

Saakashvili has been loosing credibility in Europe because of his erratic behavior and statements. He is largely blamed for the war (something that is mostly related to the unacceptable low level of knowledge among journalists together with heavy propaganda and lobbying from the Russians, and the European fear of Putin) The erratic behavior of Putin has been tolerated. Putin has on a number of occasions threatened Europe with nuclear missiles, violated airspace, claimed the North Pole and simulated nuclear attacks on a number of occasions on Norway. He publicly threatened a journalist with castration, made jokes publicly about the Israelian presidents raping an employee, arrests any protesters and encourages nationalism leading to killings of foreigners. All this cheered by his well organized Nashi youth movement, largely inspired by Hitlerjugend. So who shows the most erratic behavior and is the most likely candidate to have started the war?

The rebel regions – fighting for a just cause?

There’s no heroic “battle for freedom” going on in the rebel republics. The systematic ethnic cleansing and shooting at international observers shows that the separatists just are simple war criminals under Russian protection, something that has been evident for many years. The separatist gain money and Russia military bases and influence.

What kind of dialog is EU referring to with this country?

So far what I have heard is a Russian monologue. Russia should be dealt with in order to avoid an even greater problem in the future. But with Europe focused on “business as usual” there is not much hope. We will have to wonder about who’s next in line for Russian “rescue operations” or European lack of principles. This is exactly the way Europe let Hitler grow into the monster he became. But there’s hope: The financial crisis also takes it tolls in Russia as the RTS index plummets, and show that they have lost close to 80% of its total stock value peaking in may 2008. An increasing number of demonstrations have occurred all over Russia the latest days, forcefully beaten down by special forces of course, but still a sign of rising unrest in the Czar’s empire. It doesn’t help much either, when the Nashi youths rallies in Moscow portraying the US as the big enemy carrying live pigs in the rallies “squeeling like Americans” as their leader proudly said on TV. Why then perform American rap and sing “happy Birthday, dear Putin” as the main event for the rallying youth crowd?

Because that’s Russia.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

NATO & Business as usual

Today the forreign ministers in the NATO have discussed Ukraine and Georgias possibilities for entering NATO with MAP. NATO also discussed their relations with Russia after the Russian assault on Georgia. So what did this bright men and women decide?: Well. First: NATO want business as ususal with Russia, unlike what they said in Spetember. And no MAP for Georgia and Ukraine in forseable future. No nothing, just the empty words from Bucurest.
I guess this is no surprice, because France and Germany have all the time tried to downplay the importance of simple democratic principles, UN Charter and Russian breaches of several other international laws. This is a new invitation for Russia to further invade and destroy Caucasus. Both EU and NATO say they don't care as long as they can conduct business as usual. An the ceasefire agreement is still not honored by Russia. The ethnic cleansing of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is completed by Russian troops and the rebel forces within the enclaves.
It's time to understand that there will be no help from the west. According to Aftenposten.no Norway and Germany were pressing for reentry of NATO - Russia talks, and no MAP for Georgia and Ukraine.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Major update of my Georgia website

I am happy to finally present a major update to my website DISCOVER GEORGIA. It's a redesign with a lot more pictures, thus a bit heavy loaded. It includes presentation of a whole new range of destinations within Georgia, a new section about food and general some more "village life". I think it can be interesting for those of you wanting to know and see more of Georgia than the destruction of Gori. Georgia is so much more. I have tried to capture some of it during my traveling.

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. 9.th ”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 8.th. 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 7.th or 8.th 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 15.th 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.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A New Position?

According to Georgia Online today, European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso said after the Brussels summit (commenting on the Lithanian and Polish protest against resuming the EU-Russia trade negotiations) that he had told the Polish and Lithuanian partners that it is “better for us to have a united European position when we speak with Russia, a position which is perhaps not 100 percent of what you would have wanted, than to have three or four positions from Europe when it talks to Russia".
So, is it going to be the kneeling position? Or the arms-around-the-shoulder -position? I am sure this will comfort the Baltics and the Poland a lot to. To me it seems like just another pointless, or should I say reckless act from the French president. After the Swedish prime minister Renfeld walked out of the EU-negotiations about EU's new financial approach in anger over Sarkozy's rather provocative approach, I guess The French president really needed to create turmoil with the Lithuania and Poland by opely changing his views on wheater Russia had fulfilled its commitments on the ceasefire agreement or not.

Business as usual with the gentlemen at the Court.