Some news items about events in and around Georgia during the last week which have attracted less attention than they deserve:
WASHINGTON DOWNPLAYS NEED FOR INVESTIGATION INTO CAUSES OF WAR… A spokesman for the US Department of State said that it is now more important to get the Georgians and “particularly the Russians to live up to their obligations” rather than try to determine “who did what first.” Robert Wood said that “I don’t think we’ll ever really get to the bottom of that. And the important thing is for us to move forward.” Asked if that stance could be interpreted as “blind support for a US ally,” Wood replied that “I’ve said what I’ve said on this” (www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19910).
…AS GEORGIAN OPPOSITION REASSERTS THAT AS A KEY DEMAND. Meanwhile, the Georgian parliament’s investigation continues, with the opposition making its successful operation a key demand and Erosi Kitsmarishvili, the former Georgian ambassador to Moscow demanding that he be questioned so that he can speak about what happened just before and just after the start of the conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia (www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19875).
MEDVEDEV BLAMES US FOR GEORGIAN ‘ATTACK’ ON SOUTH OSSETIA… At the start of his address to the Russian parliament, President Dmitry Medvedev said that what he called “the attack of Georgian forces on South Ossetia” was the result of “the one-sided policy of the US Administration” (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/newstext/news/id/1232648.html).
…AS SAAKASHVILI SAYS RUSSIA’S BLACK SEA FLEET STARTED CONFLICT. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili pointed to a new line of causality for the war. He said that “those who want to know how military actions began ought to know that [Russia’s] Black Sea Fleet left Ukraine and approached the shores of Georgia at least six days before the beginning of massive military actions. They were certainly not going on a cruise,” he added (www.materik.ru/index.php?section=news&id=33284).
RIGHTS GROUP SAYS BOTH SIDES USED CLUSTER BOMBS. Moscow and Tbilisi have traded charges that the other side used cluster bombs during the conflict but that it did not, but Human Rights Watch, an internationally respected group, has concluded that both sides did, although it adds that Georgia used such banned weapons more often and in more places than did Russia (www.sobkorr.ru/news/491298BC8F471.html).
SARKOZY SAYS RUSSIA HAS MET ALL CONDITIONS FOR TALKS WITH EU … French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Russia has met all the conditions the European Union had set after the Georgian war and therefore he favors resuming partnership talks with Moscow. Sarkozy asked rhetorically, “Must we create another Europe-Russia crisis” by delaying? But the governments of Poland and Lithuania, among others, continue to say that it is “too early” for such talks to occur (www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19911).
… AS ILVES SAYS EU IS BECOMING AN ACCOMPLICE OF MOSCOW. In an interview with Germany’s “Spiegel,” Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves decried the fact that there are some in the European Union who “would like to get back to business as usual” with Russia “as soon as possible, adding that in his view, “the EU is virtually an accomplice of Moscow” with regard to post-Soviet states like Georgia and Ukraine (www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,588047,00.html).
SAAKASHVILI THANKS BALTS, CENTRAL EUROPEANS FOR THEIR SUPPORT. In an interview to Lithuanian television, President Mikhail Saakashvili thanked the Balts, the Poles and the Czechs for their support of Georgia during the recent war and for backing Tbilisi’s aspirations to integrate into the West. Specifically he said that the speech to the UN General Assembly by Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus was “much more important than [Saakashvili’s own] (ru.delfi.lt/news/politics/article.php?id=19115445).
AMERICAN BUSINESSES NOT INTERESTED IN SUPPORTING SOCHI OLYMPICS. Dmitry Kozak, Russia’s vice prime minister for the Sochi Olympics, tried but failed to get American companies to agree to invest in infrastructure for those games. That failure complicates Moscow’s plans to hold the games in new facilities there and makes it more likely that the Russians will host the Sochi Games not just in that city but in others across the Russian Federation (www.ng.ru/economics/2008-10-31/4_kozak.html?mthree=4).
NEMTSOV CALLS FOR BOTH PUTIN AND SAAKASHVILI TO RESIGN – BUT RUSSIAN MEDIA REPORT ONLY THE LATTER. Boris Nemtsov, a leading Russian opposition figure, told a conference in Riga that “Putin and Saakashvili ought to leave their positions in order that peace and order will be restored in the Caucasus.” In the policies they have adopted toward the political opposition, Nemtsov said, they are “twin brothers.” Russian media reported Nemtsov’s call for Saakashvili to go but did not report what he said about Putin. As a result, Nemtsov posted his remarks on his own blog at b-nemtsov.livejournal.com/26764.html.
KARABAKH DISPUTE WILL NEVER BE SOLVED, MARKOV SAYS. The November 2 summit in Moscow among the presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan renewed hopes in some places that the Karabakh dispute would finally be resolved, with some pointing to the absence of any reference to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan as an indication of the directions things are going (www.argumenti.ru/publications/8372). But former Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan said that Armenia and Azerbaijan prefer Western intermediaries (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/newstext/news/id/1232644.html), and influential Moscow commentator Sergey Markov said the conflict would never be solved whatever anyone is saying today (www.day.az/news/politics/135724.html). Indeed, except for the media circus, the only thing that certainly came out of the Moscow sessions were Russia’s plan to open a new military base in Armenia (www.vpk-news.ru/article.asp?pr_sign=archive.2008.259.articles.cis_01
RUSSIAN, GEORGIAN CHURCHES TO EXPAND COOPERATION. At a meeting in Moscow, leaders of the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches agreed to expand their consultations and cooperation, while the Moscow Patriarchate reaffirmed its decision, opposed by the Russian government, not to take control of Orthodox parishes and bishoprics in the two breakaway republics (www.portal-credo.ru/site/?act=monitor&id=13004).