Window on Eurasia Shorts for October 4 – Georgian Events
Some news items about events in and around Georgia during the last week which have attracted less attention than they deserve:
PUTIN DENOUNCES KYIV FOR SUPPLYING WEAPONS TO GEORGIA. At a press conference after meeting visiting Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called Ukraine’s provision of military equipment to Georgia a crime and said that whoever was responsible for taking that decision was “a criminal” and had made “an enormous error” (korrespondent.net/russia/603256).
MUCH NOISE, NO MOVEMENT ON RECOGNITION OF ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA. For 24 hours, it appeared that another country – Somalia – would become the third state to recognize the two breakaway republics, but Somalia’s foreign ministry told the Georgian government that the Somali ambassador in Moscow had misspoken when he said that his country planned to extend diplomatic recognition (www.polit.ru/event/2008/10/01/friend.html and (www.annews.ru/news/detail.php?ID=169076). Meanwhile, the government of Northern Cyprus said it would recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as soon as Moscow recognized it (www.islam.ru/rus/2008-10-03/23084).
SWEDEN WILL REPRESENT GEORGIAN INTERESTS IN MOSCOW; SWITZERLAND, RUSSIAN INTERESTS IN TBILISI. Now that Russia and Georgia have broken diplomatic relations, Sweden has agreed to represent Tbilisi’s interests in the Russian Federation, and Switzerland has said it will represent Moscow’s in Georgia (grani.ru/Politics/Russia/m.142259.html and www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/newstext/news/id/1230247.html).
SAAKASHVILI SAYS HE HAS NO PLANS TO BUY MAJOR WEAPONS SYSTEMS. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili announced that he has no plans to purchase “serious new arms” for his country’s military in the wake of the conflict with the Russian Federation.
CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS RUSSIA A COLONIAL POWER … Czech Foreign Minister Karl Swartzenberg told the UN General Assembly that Russia had behaved in Georgia like “a colonizer” and must be opposed in this lest Moscow assume it could act in a similar way toward other countries (kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2008/10/01/61339.shtml).
.. AND POLISH FM SAYS MOSCOW MAY USE FORCE AGAINST UKRAINE. Speaking in Tokyo, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorsky said that Russia may use force against Ukraine in much the same way it did against Georgia even though such action would destroy the existing balance of forces in Europe (ru.redtram.com/go/168893625/n4p/716/state-and-community/).
VERY FEW ETHNIC RUSSIANS IN UKRAINE HAVE RF CITIZENSHIP. According to the Ukrainian census of 2001, only 3.2 percent of the residents of Sevastopol have Russian citizenship and less than one percent of the population in the so-called Russian-language districts did at that time. While there may have been some increase since that time, it has not been anything like that in South Ossetia or Abkhazia, experts who have examined the question say
MOSCOW CALLS ON CASPIAN STATES TO FORM A NEW ECONOMIC GROUP. At a meeting of the Caspian littoral states, Russian First Vice Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov called for an organization to promote economic cooperation among Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and he said that to promote this, it would be possible to create a center of Caspian economic and political research and a center for the study of bio-resources
GEORGIANS PLAN TO MOVE STALIN S TATUE TO OCCUPATION MUSEUM. Georgia’s vice prime minister Georgy Baramidze says that the statue of Stalin in the main square of Gori, the Soviet dictator’s birthplace, will soon be moved to the occupation museum that Tbilisi intends to establish. That is where it belongs, Baramidze told journalists (www.sobkorr.ru/news/48E6617FC6C85.html).
ISRAEL, AZERBAIJAN EXPAND TIES IN WAKE OF GEORGIAN WAR. Relations between Jerusalem and Baku have intensified in several areas, Israeli ambassador to Baku Arthur Lenk said, pointing to an agreement by Azerbaijan to purchase Israeli arms and an offer by Azerbaijan to allow Israeli planes to land at Baku and Ganca to evacuate Israelis from Georgia. “Though we did not use this help,” Lenk said, “we understood Azerbaijan was a country Israel could rely on in hard times” (www.infoisrael.net/cgi-local/text.pl?source=2/a/iv/021020081).
ANKARA, BAKU MAY SEEK TO REVIVE AJARIAN AUTONOMY. According to some analysts, Turkey and Azerbaijan may seek to revive the provisions of the 1921 Treaty of Kars which gives them a voice in the status of Ajaria, something Mikhail Saakashvili has generally ignored. Were they to do so, one analyst says, the two Turkic states might ask for full autonomy for the Ajars and some autonomy for Azerbaijanis living in eastern Georgia (www.regnum.ru/news/fd-abroad/georgia/1062596.html).
SOME RUSSIANS WANT TO DISMEMBER GEORGIA FURTHER. Some Russian commentators have extended Eurasianist Aleksandr Dugin’s proposals for Georgia and argued that Moscow must divide Georgia into a number of mini-states so that they will not be in a position to threaten Russia again (www.apn.ru/publications/article20753.htm).
COULD CASPIAN GAS FLOW THROUGH ARMENIA? As the fallout from the Georgian war continues to affect energy issues, some analysts have revived an idea that was first proposed 15 years ago – extending a pipeline (gas this time) through Armenia not only to link that republic more firmly with the West but also to settle the Karabakh dispute. To date, no government official has spoken out in favor of this idea (www.ia-centr.ru/expert/2457/ and