Clashes at anti-government protest in Georgia - May, 2011

Although somewhat late, Georgians are nevertheless gradually waking up to the harsh realities of the geopolitical world they live in. Finally, Georgians are realizing that under the despotic rule of the Saakashvili regime, their nation has been enslaved by the IMF and by the US State Department. As a result of Saakashvili's criminal aggression against South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia has been mutilated. Under Saakashvili's inept rule, Georgia has become enemies with the single most important neighbor the Georgian nation has - Russian Federation. In the end, none of the powerful propaganda aimed at Moscow by Washington and Tbilisi will deter the inevitable fate that will befall Georgia. Georgia's rightful/natural place is within the CIS and the CSTO.

When Moscow did not veto the Western aggression against Libya two moths ago, I suspected there was a very good reason behind their decision not to get involved. Libya had been a good trade partner to Moscow. However, international politics is ultimately a chess game. Vulnerable and under the sights of the Western beast, Libya had become a political pawn. By giving in on Libya, was Moscow saving its best effort to finally finish off Saakashvili's regime? Will Georgia be the consolation prize Russia will receive as a result of Moscow's soft stance over Libya? Time will tell. Nevertheless, I'm sure there are secret discussions taking place right now not only about the political fate of Libya but that of Georgia as well. We'll see how it all plays out in the near future.

I have posted several very pertinent articles regarding Georgia on this page, one of which is an Op-Ed piece titled "Georgia needs U.S. help in standing up to Russia". The piece in question is basically the shameless continuation of US government sponsored propaganda directed against Moscow. Written some time ago by Senator John McCain (a Neocon clown that almost become president), the article appeared in one of America's most prestigious newspapers, the Washington Post. Ever since the Russian-Georgian war in the summer of 2008, not a week passes by now without the appearance of a negative (or down right hostile) report about the Russian Federation in the so-called "free press" in the United States. It's almost like clock work. Although American bastions such as Israel, Columbia, Saudi Arabia, Albania, Turkey and Pakistan continue being severely corrupt and violent regimes, we are constantly bombarded by news reports showing us how corrupt Russian officials are and just how terrible life is in the Russian Federation.

The American press has been cleverly spinning news developments as well as cherry-picking information for the sole purpose of slandering Moscow. The instinctual hate, the hypocrisy and the paranoia in the American press about all things Russian is very frightening.

Anyway, according to Captain America, John McCain, Georgia needs US help in standing up to Russian aggression... even though the global community, as well as Washington, has had to acknowledge the simple fact that it was Tbilisi that started the war against Russia in the summer of 2008. John McCain's Russophobic rhetoric is exactly the kind of garbage that is fed to the American sheeple on a 24/7 basis. And the realization that a good number of people around the world takes this kind of empty Washingtonian rhetoric seriously is very troubling. Nonetheless, is John McCain willing to admit that nations such as Serbia, Libya, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq need help standing up to the United States?

Needless to say, the relentless anti-Russia psyop we have in the West is US government sanctioned.
Despite what many people think these days, Washington does not lose much sleep over "Islamic terrorists". Their so-called "fighting terrorism" bullshit is simply the excuse for establishing a long-term military presence in the Middle East and Central Asia. The only primary global threats strategic planners in the West forecast as having is Russia and China. Since China is severely dependent on its economic relationship with the United States, as well as its gargantuan dependency on US controlled energy, China can, theoretically at least, be somewhat contained. On the other hand, with its virtually limitless resources, vast territory and potent military, Russia today is perhaps the only truly independent nation on earth today. Thus, Russia is the primary long-term competitor/strategic threat to the West. This threat was fully realized by the West as far back as the Czarist period, it continued with great fervor during the Cold War, and it has now taken on new life in the post Soviet world.

On a side note: Many Armenians these days enjoy comparing Georgia to Armenia. The main topic of discussion is the "western" or "professional" behavior of the Georgian police and the "primitive" or "corrupt" attitudes of their Armenian counterparts. These types of superficial comparison discussions then devolve into talk about Tbilisi being much cleaner, more orderly and more modern than Yerevan... While there are many cultural and historical factors that come into play in these discussions, the fundamental reason why Georgian government employees are more "professional" than their Armenian counterparts and why Tbilisi looks more modern than Yerevan is - money, and lots of it!

Unlike the Armenian police, Georgian police make very high salaries; money they can live very well on. Unlike Yerevan, many millions of dollars are spent on the modernization of Tbilisi.

Since its Western-funded and organized color revolution in 2005, Georgia has been enjoying billions dollars of foreign aid (primarily in loans). With its Western trained president at the helm, Georgia had more-or-less become a political test-tube for the Anglo-American-Zionist global order. Georgia was expected by the West, Israel and Turkey to become a strategic base of operations against the Russian Federation. Towards achieving this end, billions of dollars have been pumped into Georgia's state budget from places like the United States, Great Britain, European Union, Israel, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. For a certain time period, Georgia had also become a major hub for "Al-Qaeda" backed Chechen terrorists fighting Moscow in southern Russian.


Yet, despite the free flow of loans it was receiving from its foreign handlers, despite its ideal geographic location, despite its newly constructed governmental buildings, roads, bridges and offices and despite the modernization (or "westernization" as Saakashvili likes to call it) of Georgia's governmental infrastructure, the Georgian nation continues to be impoverished and the standard of living for the average Georgian in Georgia is not much different from that of Armenia's. But yes, there seems to be less corruption in Georgia. But there is a logical reason for this as well. Similar to how it is in the Western world, corruption in Georgia is reserved only for those who are in power - the all-powerful state is the head mafia boss and it does not want any competition from the lower levels.

Thus, when Georgians
take to the streets to complain about government corruption, they are mercilessly beaten back by thousands of Washington trained policemen, unlike in Yerevan where the self-destructive peasantry often abuses the police...

Unlike Georgia's national development, Armenia's national development is natural and it is within its means. Unlike Georgia's and Azerbaijan's national developments, Armenia's national development has come against all odds. While there remains many problems with the landlocked, small and poor nation stuck in a volatile political environment, a fledgling Armenia continues nevertheless its slow yet steady progress and evolution.

Unlike the political system steadily evolving under the capable leadership of president Serj Sargsyan, the flimsy house of cards Saakashvili built in Tbilisi with Western loans will come crashing down sooner than later.

Incidentally, even if Armenia's Russophobic political hardliners managed to rid Armenia of all Russians and pledged an absolute allegiance to the Western alliance, the Armenian state would still not have been supported to the tune of billions of dollars as they did with Georgia. Armenians desperately need to understand that Armenia does not interest the political West because it simply does not fit into its geopolitical agenda. Armenia serves the national interests of the Russian Federation and to a lesser degree, Iran. That's it.

And a humble reminder to Armenian nationalists: a Caucasus without a powerful Russian presence is a Caucasus without an Armenian presence.


After all is said and done, as long as the great game of the great powers of the world continues in the Caucasus, the region shall remain a backward and volatile powder-keg. If we want prosperity and stability to come to the Caucasus we must first have Pax Russicana come to the Caucasus. The following RT reports are interesting perspectives on Georgia that the state controlled Western news media chooses to all but ignore:
Georgia tightens grip on justice: http://www.youtube.com/user/RussiaToday#p/u/42/RwPb0aJsa28

Georgia swift to follow into America's debt steps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOA6o5INsto

Georgia has no chance of joining NATO: http://www.youtube.com/user/RussiaToday#p/u/2/UQ4defKUMe8

Is there a middle class in Russia? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laYsrwFtoOw
It makes me sick watching Tbilisi's tie eating dictator pathetically kissing Western, Turkish and Jewish assess hoping that they will deliver him from Moscow's wrath. In the end, all his ass kissing is going to end up getting him is his head on a platter. What the Western political order attempted to do with Georgia is going to prove futile in the end. Georgia is a political experiment that will not succeed. The first phase in breaking up the party in Tbilisi was completed by the end of 2008, when Tbilisi's tie eating dictator was foolish enough to take on the Bear (which was exactly what the Kremlin was hoping for). Georgia's Western/Israeli/Turkish trained and supplied military was ruthlessly crushed in a few short days. It was a blow that Georgia and its supporters around the world will not recover from. The second and perhaps final phase will be the very ouster of Saakashvili from Tbilisi. All indicators suggest that Saakashvili's time in office is running out.

As I have been say for some time now, Saakashvili has no choice in the matter, he will have to leave Georgia. The only choice he will be given is the manner in which he will be leaving for Washington - alive or in a body bag.

Not too long ago, Putin is said to have made a public comment about reuniting Georgia with Russia. Needless to say, such a comment would raise many eyebrows. The year old article titled "Putin Says Decision on ‘Reunification’ of Georgia Already Decided" was written by Paul Goble, a senior US State Department official Armenians know all too well about, and it was meant to be a response to the very curious comments made by Vladimir Putin. If the comment attributed to Putin is true, it is not surprising that Georgia's political fate has already been decided by the Kremlin. Georgia is coming back under Moscow's wing... but not just yet.

Tbilisi has recently gotten into the propaganda business to the tune of ten million dollars (see New York Times article about Tbilisi building ties with Russian Caucasus). The Georgian president is also on record as saying that the recent terror attack at a Moscow airport was 'payback' for Russian policies in the Caucasus. I don't know how Sakkashvili's brain works, but his ouster from power will not be a pretty one. [According to many analysis, the recent deadly airport bombing in Russia was meant to stop Medvedev from attending the G-20 Summit in Switzerland. If true, either those backward/bloodthirsty Islamic animals in the Caucasus are very-very sophisticated - or they are simply taking their marching orders from someplace else. The world will eventually come to the realizations that the "Al-Qaeda" led Islamic insurgency in the Caucasus is a Western operation.] In their latest childish efforts to pander to Turks and insult Russia and Armenia, Tbilisi recently decided to recognize the so-called "genocide of Circassians" by Russia. There are now signs that the dirty love affair that existed between Tbilisi and Tel Aviv is also slowly coming to an end. Will Israel sell arms to Abkhazia? Most probably not. But the falling-out the two former lovers have had recently is very revealing.

Please read articles at the bottom on this commentary - including the piece by Washington funded ArmeniaNow where the author of the article is quick to call the events in Georgia a coup d’etat - even though the same Western propaganda outlet did everything in its power to whitewash Levon's coup attempt in 2008 as a popular uprising. After all is said and done, as long as the great game of the great powers of the world continues in the region, the Caucasus shall remain a backward and volatile powder-keg. If we want peace and stability to come to the Caucasus we must have Pax Russicana come to the Caucasus.

Arevordi

May, 2011

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Russia Responds to Deadly Georgia Protests

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'Georgia now like N. Korea': Witch hunt on for opposition:http://www.youtube.com/user/russiatoday?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/17/l0LRu_L2YvE
No Remorse: RT caught in Tbilisi brutal dispersal of Georgia protesters:http://www.youtube.com/user/russiatoday?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/8/l_97I1yR4Ic
Georgia Violence: Video of brutal police crackdown on Tbilisi protests:http://www.youtube.com/user/russiatoday?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/9/ciPRfNPcmbQ
One police officer was killed and 19 more injured as police dispersed protesters demanding the resignation of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili from central Tbilisi early on Thursday morning, a Georgian Interior Ministry official said. Shota Utiashvili, the head of the ministry's analytical department, said the policemen was killed after he was run over by a motorized convoy of opposition leaders, who fled the scene as police began an operation to disperse the protesters. He added that 19 more policemen, who were injured during the clashes with the protesters, are currently in hospital and are in a stable condition. According to other reports, at least 10 people were hospitalized after the police operation. Georgian news agency Pirveli says that several Russian journalists were detained during the clash. The People's Assembly opposition party had permission to hold protests at Rustaveli Avenue near the parliament until Wednesday midnight, however, protesters decided to stay after that time. After warnings to leave, the authorities ordered special task police forces to disperse the crowds. After the police operation, the protesters changed their location and are currently gathered at Tbilisi's central Freedom Square. Opposition protesters say that the special task police forces used "disproportional force". Saakashvili was elected president by a landslide in 2004 after the Rose Revolution, but his popularity has waned since a series of corruption scandals in 2007 and the destructive 2008 war with Russia.
Clashes at anti-government protest in Georgia

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Violence as anti-government protests spread to Georgia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds13WV3ggNg&feature=player_embedded#at=32

Clashes in Georgia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQAYN97gtZQ&feature=related

Clashes broke out at a demonstration aimed at ousting Georgia's Western-backed President Mikheil Saakashvili on Sunday, with protesters attacking cars and police firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Protesters held an all-night vigil outside the Georgian public television studios in Tbilisi after some 6,000 people rallied on Saturday, accusing Saakashvili of authoritarianism and calling for him to resign. Police used rubber bullets and tear gas after activists attacked a police car with sticks early Sunday morning, smashing the windows and beating the officers inside, accusing them of trying to kidnap a protest organiser.

"Police were forced to use rubber bullets to defend peaceful citizens," interior ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili told AFP. There was a second clash when protesters wielding sticks and improvised shields again attacked cars which they suspected of carrying undercover officers. Opposition leader Nino Burjanadze, a former parliamentary speaker in the Saakashvili government, said that a "revolution" had started in the ex-Soviet state. "The authorities' actions have provoked the start of the revolution," Burjanadze told AFP. Around 2,000 people continued the protest outside the television studios on Sunday after the incidents, many of them carrying sticks and some hiding their faces with scarves. "We want a revolution and we want Saakashvili to step down," protester Mikheil Urchukhishvili told AFP.

The interior ministry warned ordinary citizens to avoid going near the demonstration in case of further clashes. The country's widely-respected Orthodox Christian leader also called for calm in his Sunday sermon amid what he described as a "very tense" political situation. "People should not say or do things to one another that would make them feel ashamed afterwards," Georgian Patriarch Ilia II said. Several thousand supporters of the National Assembly opposition alliance rallied in Tbilisi on Saturday, occupying a central square before marching to the public television building.

A parallel protest attended by hundreds of people in the Black Sea resort of Batumi was broken up by police after activists tried to force their way into a local television station, demanding airtime. The National Assembly alleged that hundreds of its activists have been arrested across the country over the past three days. "The authorities are carrying out a terror campaign against opposition supporters," Burjanadze said. But the interior ministry denied this, saying that only 12 people had been detained so far this weekend. Protesters accuse Saakashvili of failing to tackle widespread poverty and of losing large parts of Georgian territory during the country's disastrous war with Russia in 2008.

But in a sign of the bitter divisions that have split Georgia's opposition, the turnout at the protests was small by local standards as several anti-government parties refused to take part. In a televised interview on Saturday night, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said that the low turnout proved that there was no public support for radical opposition actions. "These people are so few, so weak that they cannot do anything," he said. Saakashvili's pro-Western administration -- which deployed riot squads to crush demonstrations in 2007 at a time when Burjanadze was a leading official -- has said it supports the right to peaceful protest. Despite defeat in the war with Russia and the crackdown in 2007, Saakashvili has remained the country's most powerful figure and many believe he could continue to dominate Georgian politics after his term ends in 2013.

Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jRYyxZI2bgMx9xsNrTkizSpY_1pg?docId=CNG.2961e630fcbff1b543b086131b6b10f5.ba1

US 'seizing our freedom,' says Georgia's opposition

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An opposition party in Georgia has blasted the United States for propping up Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s regime, reiterating its call for a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi on Friday. “We believe that Russia has seized our territories, but by this support [to Saakashvili], the U.S. administration is seizing our freedom, our sovereign right of free choice in our internal political affairs,” Erosi Kitsmarishvili, one of the founders of the opposition Georgian Party was quoted as saying by online news outlet Civil Georgia on Wednesday.

His comments echoed earlier remarks made by party co-leader and ex-Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili. Kitsmarishvili was speaking at a news conference convened after some of the other opposition parties slammed the Georgian Party for the planned rally and for Okruashvili’s remarks, in which he described the U.S. Embassy as a “torrent, poisoning Georgian society.”

“This statement is directed not against the Georgian authorities, but against Georgia as a whole,” said Levan Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party. Georgian member of parliament Giorgi Targamadze, the leader of the Christian-Democratic Movement, or CDM, slammed Okruashvili’s remarks as unacceptable and said such a stance only contributed to strengthening the authorities’ position and would help create a situation from which Russia might benefit.

Nino Burjanadze, an ex-parliamentary speaker, the leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia party and a longtime critic of the Georgian Party, also said such statements only benefit the authorities. “This statement is part of Saakashvili’s plan,” she said. Burjanadze plans to launch street protests May 21 to force the president’s resignation.

“I’ve listened to various opposition parties’ statements about the remarks made by Irakli Okruashvili,” Kitsmarishvili said. “If someone wants to know what the people think, let them go and meet people... and ask them what they think about the U.S. administration’s support of the Saakashvili regime.” “We are a sovereign state and we demand that not a single country should be interfering in our internal political affairs,” he said.

Kitsmarishvili also said that Georgian authorities were not following their democratic commitments as laid out in the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Charter, a document signed in January 2009 that vows mutual protection as well as recognizing “that democracy is the chief basis for political legitimacy.” Despite not upholding this democratic principle, the U.S. still supports the current regime, Kitsmarishvili said.

“Despite the terror against business and people, the U.S. administration still continues its financial support for the Saakashvili regime,” he said. “For that reason we think that expressing protest [outside the U.S. Embassy] will be important May 16.”

Protest rallies outside the U.S. Embassy are rare in Georgia, but there have been several occasions in past few years when the opposition held such rallies to protest against what they called the “U.S. support of the Saakashvili regime.” One such rally was held by the “Party of People” in January 2008, after the snap presidential elections, and another one was held by a group of opposition parties ahead of a meeting between President Saakashvili and then-U.S. President George W. Bush in March 2008.

After the 2008 presidential elections many opposition politicians voiced their criticism of the Bush administration for what they called “helping Saakashvili to legitimize fraudulent elections.” Mathew Bryza, who at the time was the U.S. Department of State’s point man for the Caucasus working for in the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and is now the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, was a frequent target of criticism.

The opposition’s rhetoric, however, has changed since then with many opposition politicians saying President Barack Obama’s administration is more inclined toward pressing the Georgian authorities on democratic reforms. Many opposition politicians have praised the U.S. ambassador to Georgia, John Bass, who has been serving in Tbilisi since October 2009, for what they call “adequately assessing” Georgia’s problems with democratic reforms.

Source: http://therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/us-seizing-our-freedom-says-georgias-opposition/

Failed coup d’etat: An insight into Georgian government and opposition face-off

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The diagram of “planting democracy” in a number of post-Soviet republics has seen most serious malfunctions – the political contingent that initially was depicted as “the carrier of democratic values”, very soon discredited itself and after coming to power in countries like Ukraine and Georgia started dividing that power. And not only power was divided but also the once common electorate. The peculiarity of the situation in Georgia is that “new electorates” are subdivided based on territorial criteria.

The thing is that the concept of “Georgian nation” is aggregative and implies different ethnic groups – Mingrelians, Svans, Kartvelians, Kahetians, Gurians and others, who are carriers of different historical traditions and values. For example, the first president of independent Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia was a Mingrelian and right after his flight from the presidential post he declared the creation of a ‘Mingrelian-Abkhazian Republic’ independent from Tbilisi.

The second president Eduard Shevardnadze was a Gurian and had strong support from the historical region of Guria. The current president Mikheil Saakashvili is making efforts to implant in the minds of different ethnic groups the idea of “the united and indivisible Georgian nation” and in doing this he enjoys Georgian Patriarch Ilia II’s full support.

In order to better understand the general background of the current antagonism between Saakashvili and Nino Burjanadze, the Democratic Movement – United Georgia party leader and former parliament speaker, the ethnic factor has to be considered: Saakashvili is from Tiflis (an old name for Tbilisi) and Burjanadze is a native of Kutaisi (western Georgia).

For several centuries Tiflis and Kutaisi were capitals of two different states reigned by different monarchs. They became part of the Russian Empire in different periods, and even as part of Russia they still remained centers of different provinces of the same name (Tiflis and Kutaisi respectively). It was in the Soviet Union that Tbilisi became the capital of “all Georgia”.

Late on May 25, Burjanadze’s supporters made an attempt at taking over the control of the center of Tbilisi, thus upsetting plans for a military parade scheduled for the following day on the occasion of Georgia’s Independence (First Republic) Day. Prior to the launch of the operation law-enforcement bodies made an appeal to the protesters and demanded that they leave the square, but the appeal was turned down. Task-force units took coercive measures which led to two deaths (one civilian and one among law-enforcement) and several dozen injuries.

The Georgian president called these events a provocation aimed at destabilizing the situation. Moreover, Saakashvili believes the scenario was orchestrated by outside forces. “Following the foreign drafted script there was an attempt in Georgia to hamper the parade, organize a sabotage and destabilize the situation,” stated Saakashvili, opening the military parade on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi. Apparently he was referring to Russia.

“Yesterday’s scheme was an encroachment upon our freedom and a revenge towards our army which in 2008 caused them the kind of damage they hadn’t experienced in the recent years,” Saakashvili stressed. He said that “Georgia won’t retreat and will henceforth continue standing up for its freedom and independence from foreign infringement.”

The Georgian Internal Affairs Ministry circulated the audio record of Nino Burjanadze’s phone conversation with her son Anzor, in which they discuss in detail their plans of achieving a coup d’etat in Georgia in preference to the Egypt scenario. The mother and son also talk about the number of people in favor of the pro-Russian strategy and how many among them are reliable. It is still too early to talk about the possible course of events in Georgia. It is quite possible that in the nearest future Burjanadze wil be forced to return to her native Kutaisi and start forming a “new electorate”.

Source: http://armenianow.com/commentary/analysis/29970/georgia_opposition_protest_violence

Georgia Recognizes Russian 'Genocide' Of Ethnic Circassians

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Lawmakers in Georgia have recognized the mass deportation and killings of ethnic Circassians by Tsarist Russia in the 19th century as genocide. Parliament said on May 20 that ethnic cleansing and pre-planned massacres of Muslim Circassians had taken place in the Sochi area of southern Russia. The Russian army deported the Circassian tribes to Turkey after winning a war in the Caucasus that ended 147 years ago on Saturday.

"The majority of Circassians perished and the rest had no alternative but to flee the country," said Nugzar Tsiklauri, the head of a Georgian parliamentary committee for relations with diasporas. "Just a small part of the population stayed in Russia and as a result a number of ethnic groups disappeared from the world arena. Thus, actions undertaken by the Russian Empire could be classified as genocide and ethnic cleansing." The move has been welcomed by members of the Circassian diaspora.

"Today is a very significant day for all Circassians inside the Caucasus and outside the Caucasus," Iyad Youjahar from the Circassian diaspora in the United States told Reuters. "This is the day when the crimes against the Circassians for the past 140 years have started to stop. And we have hopes that, from today on, we will continue positively in the future and we will continue constructing and reconstructing our nation Circassia in the Caucasus."

Nonetheless, there were dissident voices who questioned the wisdom of the decision, which some say could strain Georgia's relations with its neighbor, Russia, which have yet to recover from a brief war in 2008 over the Moscow-backed separatist provice of Southern Ossetia. "To put it mildly, the decision was made hastily," said opposition politician, Jondi Bagaturia. "I think the political context of this decision has also not been taken into account -- political implications both externally and internally -- and no threats that can follow this decision have been considered either." Georgia is the first country to recognize the events in question as genocide.

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/georgia_recognizes_russian_genocide_of_ethnic_circassians/24181560.html

Russia, Georgia exchange unfriendly gestures: Armenia risks ricochet

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Russian media have recently published a series of reports alleging unfriendly steps made by Georgia against Armenia. Typically, such reports are released after Georgia’s political moves against Russia itself. In particular, last week Georgian scholars recognized the genocide of the Circassian people in the Russian Empire, which marked the completion of the first phase of the Georgian parliament’s work over the recognition of the genocide of Circassians. The parliamentary paper argues that “tsarist Russia expelled from their native lands 1.5 million Circassians, of whom only 500,000 survived.”

And last week U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) introduced a Senate resolution demanding an end to the Russian occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The move immediately triggered reports in the Russian press that Georgia, jointly with the United States, is developing biological weapons and tests them in Javakheti, a mostly Armenian-populated province in the south of Georgia bordering on Armenia. Citing a Bulgarian website, the Russian news agency Regnum writes that Georgia, under the guise of a program to prevent the spread of biological weapons, is working on a variety of viruses in its territory. “In September 2004, during a visit to Tbilisi by Senator Richard Lugar, an agreement was reached about the establishment of a “Central Reference Laboratory” in the village of Alekseevka not far from Tbilisi. Three years after those events, the epizooty of African swine fever started in the territory of Georgia. And the outbreak of this exotic disease was mainly in the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, populated predominantly by ethnic Armenians,” writes the agency.

Shortly, the same agency disseminated information that the Union of Armenians of Russia (UAR), which is headed by businessman Ara Abrahamyan, intends to spend $90 million to ensure the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by “third world” countries.

Meanwhile, the Georgian portal “Presa.ge” suggests that Russian secret services and the department of the Ministry of Defense in charge of the Southern Military District and generally the direction of the Caucasus, had allocated $13 million to the ex-speaker of the Georgian parliament, Nino Burjanadze, and her surroundings, for the overthrow of government in Georgia. The plan also suggests a sharp change of Georgia’s foreign policy tack, an unequivocal rejection of the prospect of joining NATO and European structures and reorientation towards the Russian direction. Interestingly, the Georgian site notes that $13 million were transferred in stages to accounts of several private companies in Europe controlled by Russian special services and from there to the accounts of companies registered as property of Burjanadze’s trusted people in Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the site writes, citing “Georgia online”.

Meanwhile, Armenia is currently in talks with Georgia over the opening of an Armenian consulate in Samtskhe-Javakheti. Other problems are also being solved, while numerous issues still remain. But there seems to be a growing understanding that Armenia had better solve these problems directly with Georgia rather than as part of Russian-Georgian relations.

Source: http://armenianow.com/commentary/analysis/29818/russia_armenia_georgia_regional_politics

NATO's regional role 'declined' after Russia-Georgia war

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How real is the threat of a new war in the South Caucasus?

It's difficult to say, but the chances of escalating conflict are much higher between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh than between Georgia and Russia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is no substantial military build-up between Georgia on the one hand and Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Russia on the other, while the tension has been declining over the last year and the parties are at least talking. It remains of course a threat that cannot be ignored. In the case of Nagorno-Karabakh the military build-up between Armenia and Azerbaijan is continuing to this day, accompanied by aggressive messages from both sides instead of tangible progress in the Minsk Group and Russia's mediation initiative.

What is the place of countries like Azerbaijan in NATO's new Strategic Concept?

I think Azerbaijan will notice little of the new Strategic Concept which is now in place. The Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme continues and Azerbaijan keeps working with NATO through the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP). Next to that, Azerbaijan is of course crucial to NATO's mission in Afghanistan since it provides an important transport hub.

Do you think that after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 NATO could play a role in ensuring security in the region?

I think NATO's role in the South Caucasus declined as a result of the 2008 war [between Georgia and Russia]. Georgia's membership is off the table for the foreseeable future while Armenia and Azerbaijan do not have membership ambitions. Interest in Armenia and Azerbaijan in ties with NATO is also slightly declining, now that both countries are familiar with the IPAP procedures and NATO can offer little more at this point.

May we hope that some day Russia will not object to accession to NATO? What should the conditions be for that?

The most obvious condition would be Russia's membership of NATO. This is highly unlikely, though, because NATO and Russia's military are not interoperable. Also NATO demands democratic reforms in member countries and this is also a hurdle for both parties to agree on. Now Russia remains suspicious of NATO. If Russia were on board, the whole geographical outlook of NATO would change and countries like China might feel threatened which might also be a consideration in assessing the difficulty in Russia ever becoming a member. NATO will have to strengthen and revise its partnership strategy to build relations with Russia, while at the same time being able to step up cooperation with the three South Caucasus and East European countries.

Do you believe in imminent progress on the Karabakh conflict? And do you see NATO being involved in the settlement process?

I hope progress on Nagorno-Karabakh can be made, because both Armenia and Azerbaijan are running out of time. Azerbaijan will likely see a decline in energy revenues over the coming years while Armenia's isolation will increase further without movement on Nagorno-Karabakh. Hopefully this will result in both sides becoming more flexible in their negotiations instead of one party trying to force a solution. I do not see an active role for NATO in this process alongside the OSCE Minsk Group. An increased EU role would be an option because it is better equipped in guiding negotiations and in providing assistance and peace support mechanisms during and after a settlement process.

Source: http://www.news.az/articles/politics/36701

Georgia needs U.S. help in rebuilding, standing up to Russia

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Though disagreements remain over how the conflict began, there is no denying that two years ago this weekend, Russian troops crossed an internationally recognized border and invaded Georgia. They attacked all of the country with strategic bombers, pushed deep into its sovereign territory, displaced nearly 127,000 ethnic Georgians from their homes, recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, and established a military occupation that remains in effect.

Much has changed in the past two years -- but not for the better. Russia not only occupies Georgian territory but is building military bases there, denying access to humanitarian missions and monitors, permitting the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in South Ossetia, and working to fortify the administrative boundary lines of the breakaway regions into hardened borders. More than 100,000 ethnic Georgians who fled Russia's invasion remain in a situation of effective displacement, according to U.N. estimates. Even now, Russia is in violation of the cease-fire commitments it made with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Despite living under constant Russian threat, Georgia continues to move forward. Nearly 1,000 Georgian troops are fighting alongside us, without caveats, in the toughest parts of Afghanistan. Georgia is strengthening the rule of law, fighting corruption and expanding an economy that the World Bank considers the 11th-best place in the world to do business. Mayoral elections this year in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, were internationally praised as free and fair. While Georgia's political reforms are a work in progress, European Parliament representatives called the Tbilisi election "a real step toward the democratic development of the country."

In Russia, however, human rights advocates continue to be threatened, abused and even assassinated. Just last weekend peaceful demonstrators, including former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, were beaten and arrested for exercising basic human rights guaranteed in the Russian Constitution. If President Dmitry Medvedev wants a model for political and economic modernization, he could look to Georgia. And if the Obama administration is looking for a relationship that really needs a "reset," it should look to Georgia, too.

The administration has appeared more eager to placate an autocratic Russia than to support a friendly Georgian democracy living under the long shadow of its aggressive neighbor. It has lavished Medvedev with long phone calls and frequent meetings, with only modest foreign policy gains to show for it. Meanwhile, the administration has demonstrated little willingness to engage with Georgia's leadership, to further its NATO aspirations, to help rebuild its defenses or, until recently, even to call Russia's troop presence in Georgia what it is -- an occupation -- let alone pressure Russia to withdraw. The White House and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently made some encouraging statements in support of Georgia; now, they should turn these good words into better policies.

If Medvedev is serious about his vision of a Russia guided by the rule of law, he could bring his government into compliance with the international agreement he made to return Russian forces to their prewar positions outside Georgia. For its part, the Obama administration could rally the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to develop a road map with Russia to end the occupation of Georgia -- an incremental approach that could lead to the withdrawal of Russian troops, the return of displaced persons and the restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity. If Russia does not make progress, there should be consequences: Medvedev must know that cooperation on Georgia is a U.S. priority and that if Russia does not deliver on our priorities, he should not expect the United States to deliver on his priorities, such as accession to the World Trade Organization.

Another area where Georgia needs U.S. support is in rebuilding its defenses. Georgia is doing more fighting in Afghanistan than much of the NATO alliance it wishes to join. Yet it has been a struggle to get the administration to provide Georgian troops heading into combat even basic equipment, armored vehicles and replacement parts. Beyond this short-term assistance, Georgia needs long-term support to provide for its own defense. This is likely to entail antitank capabilities, air defenses, early-warning radar and other defensive systems that should not be misconstrued as U.S. endorsement for any Georgian use of force against its separatist regions. Georgia will always be less powerful than Russia, but that is no reason to leave it vulnerable two years after a Russian invasion.

For all the damage it has done to Georgia, and its threats to do more, Russia has failed to achieve its strategic objectives: The democratic government of Georgia has survived and is thriving. The U.S.-Russia relationship should enhance this success, not jeopardize it. We have an opportunity to support Georgia's emergence as a strong, whole and free nation -- but only if we remember who our real friends are.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/06/AR2010080605368.html

Putin Says Decision on ‘Reunification’ of Georgia ‘Already Decided’

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Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has often described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest tragedy” of the 20th century, has now said that the “reunification” of Georgia has “already been decided,” a suggestion some of his listeners believe was a call for restoring Moscow’s control over Georgia and even the former USSR as a whole. In an intriguing commentary published in yesterday’s “Gazeta,” Bozhena Rynska describes both the celebration of the 80th birthday of longtime Soviet and Russian official Yevgeny Primakov and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s two very different toasts on that occasion (www.gazeta.ru/column/rynska/3287611.shtml).

The celebration took place at the Center of International Trade. Among those in attendance were Vice Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov, KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov, Governor Valentina Matviyenko, Federation Council First Vice Speaker Aleksandr Torshin “and other government people of the first rank,” Rynska said. Primakov, she continued, has close ties to Georgia – he spent part of his childhood there, his first wife was a Georgian, and his mother was a Georgian Armenian – and consequently it was not surprising that many of the guests at his birthday celebration were people “with Georgian roots.”

Among them were former foreign minister Igor Ivanov (whose mother was Georgian, current foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (whose father was a Georgian Armenian), the oligarch Shalva Breus, Academician Viktor Gelovani, the singer Nani Bregvade, sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, and the master of ceremonies (“tamada”) was Moscow chief cardiologist David Ioseliani. Rynska noted that “throughout the entire evening, Ioseliani the tamada called Putin who was sitting next to Primakov the first person of the state,” a description that others in attendance followed, including apparently some who are serving officials and thus know that in protocol terms at least that title belongs to someone else.

In his first toast, Putin said “the history of Russia is complicated and at times bloody,” the prime minister said. “But in it,” he continued, there are its Primakovs, and therefore these blood lettings end and sometimes do not even begin.” Primakov responded in kind. He said, Rynska continued, “that he will always be devoted to Mr. Putin because the latter saved Russia.” There followed entertainment including singing. And then Putin made his second toast. He “immediately warned that he very well understood that everything said will go beyond the walls of this hall. More than that,” Rynska continued, the Russian leader indicated that he was “counting on exactly that. Following that introduction, Putin declared that “the question of the reunification of Georgia had been decided. And that there are no questions which we cannot resolve.” Primakov, Putin continued, “is involved with this question,” a statement that sounded to many in attendance as a direct appointment in the tsarist style.

After some more singing, Putin left the hall, and the remaining participants began to talk among themselves as to what the prime minister’s intentions had been. Some of those with the closest Georgian ties concluded that Putin “’had said that he will return everything to us!’ That is, Rynska said, they heard exactly what they wanted to hear.” "Those not affiliated to Georgia interpreted [Putin’s] programmatic toast entirely differently.” They heard as a promise that “all that we consider ours will remain ours.” And a few of them concluded that what Putin had committed himself to was “the restoration in a new form” of the entity that was once called “the Soviet Union.” Putin’s remark certainly was enigmatic enough to permit these various interpretations. Indeed, that may have been exactly his intention.

But his participation in a session with so many Russians who have Georgian roots and ties will certainly be read in Tbilisi as yet another indication that the Russian prime minister has no plans to reduce pressure on Georgia. At the very least, it suggests that Putin’s understanding of Russia’s sphere of influence includes not just Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Moscow has already recognized as independent, but also the remainder of Georgia and the remainder of the former Soviet space, an understanding that will exacerbate rather than calm tensions in many other capitals as well.

Source: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2388736/posts

Preparing for War with Russia? Washington To Rearm Georgia For New Conflicts

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Recent reports in the Russian news media have detailed plans by the U.S. to provide the Mikheil Saakashvili government in Georgia with tens of millions of dollars worth of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. The Russian government's Itar-Tass news agency and Voice of Russia have confirmed the arms package with officials from the Russian special services and the Joint Staff of the armed forces. An official from the second source responded to the proposed arms sale by stating: "We deeply regret that the reset of US-Russian relations declared by the administration of Barack Obama does not change anything in Washington's military support for the Georgian leadership, which began the war in the Caucasus in August 2008 and which is continuing to mastermind aggressive plans against the independent states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia." [1]

The Georgian-South Ossetian-Russian war of 2008 was preceded by Georgian artillery barrages against the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on August 1 which killed six people including a Russian peacekeeper stationed there. That attack occurred within hours of 1,000 U.S. Marines, airborne forces and other troops completing the two-week Immediate Response 2008 North Atlantic Treaty Organization Partnership for Peace exercise in Georgia. Six days afterward the Saakashvili regime launched an all-out assault against South Ossetia, timed to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. American troops and military equipment remained in the war zone throughout the five days of fighting between Georgia and Russia which began after the latter nation reacted to the deaths of Russian peacekeepers and South Ossetian civilians (who overwhelmingly hold Russian passports) caused by the Georgian onslaught.

U.S. military transport aircraft ferried home 2,000 Georgian troops deployed to Iraq - the third largest national contingent after those of the U.S. and Britain at the time - as the fighting was still raging. Five days after the war ended, Joseph Biden - then senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, now vice president - rushed to the Georgian capital to support Saakashvili and offer $1 billion in "emergency aid" to the U.S. client. After returning stateside, Biden, never reticent in respect to high-blown rhetorical excesses, stated: "I left the country convinced that Russia's invasion of Georgia may be...one of the most significant event[s] to occur in Europe since the end of communism... .[T]he continuing presence of Russian forces in the country has severe implications for the broader region....Russia’s actions in Georgia will have consequences.”

Later in the month the U.S. dispatched the USS McFaul guided missile destroyer (part of the Aegis combat system designed to fire interceptor missiles), USS Mount Whitney (the flagship of the U.S. Sixth Fleet) and a Coast Guard cutter to the Georgian Black Sea coast, immediately south of Abkhazia and not much farther from the Russian shoreline. The heavily armed warships were, if one trusts Washington's account of their mission, engaged in a humanitarian operation. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused the U.S. of bringing weapons into Georgia. The American ships, joined by as many as fifteen other NATO vessels, and Russian opposite numbers deployed to the region were only some ninety miles apart.

Georgia's head of state Mikheil Saakashvili, a graduate of Columbia Law School in New York City, was brought to power seven years ago on the back of an extra-constitutiona l putsch in 2003-2004 that he and his supporters and admirers in the West refer to as the Rose Revolution. He remains the preeminent American political client in the world along with Kosovo's prime minister and president presumptive Hashim Thaci, recently accused in a report to the Council of Europe of being the ringleader of a grisly crime syndicate that trafficked in narcotics, weapons and human organs extracted from at least 500 ethnic Serbian and other civilians murdered for that purpose. An empire can be judged by the satraps it arms and in other manners indulges.

After Saakashvili' s Pyrrhic attempt to eliminate the two barriers remaining to dragging his country into NATO - unresolved territorial disputes and the presence of foreign troops on its soil (at the time a small number of Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia) - with the invasion of South Ossetia and following that an offensive against Abkhazia, the U.S. and NATO hastened to shore up their outpost in the South Caucasus. In mid-September NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and its North Atlantic Council (the permanent representatives - ambassadors - of all its 26 member states at the time) visited Georgia and, guided by the host country's defense minister, inspected air force and infantry bases.

During the trip, the U.S.-controlled military bloc signed a framework agreement on creating the NATO-Georgia Commission, out of which developed an Annual National Program to further Georgia's integration into the Alliance, an exceptional measure to circumvent the standard stages through which a candidate nation passes to achieve full NATO accession. The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by issuing a statement that said in part: "Instead of drawing serious conclusions about the failed attempt by Saakashvili to forcefully resolve the many-year-old conflict [with South Ossetia], NATO has again demonstrated its support towards his [Saakashvili’s] campaign of disinformation, and has promised to rebuild the military infrastructure of this country.” [2]

Washington followed suit in December when then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza announced a framework agreement on a U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership, which was formalized by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze in Washington on January 9, 2009. In October of 2008 Washington deployed the destroyer USS Mason to Georgia for training exercises and in the same month the Georgian defense minister met with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the sidelines of a NATO defense chiefs meeting in Hungary, after which it was announced that "U.S. military assistance will be aimed at strengthening Georgian air defenses." [3]

At the same time the Pentagon sent "an assessment team to Georgia to determine what role the US should play in rebuilding that country’s military after its military conflict with Russia last August. "After the assessment, Pentagon officials will review how the United States will be able to support the reconstruction of Georgia, including armed forces aid." [4] Toward the end of the month a delegation headed by Frank Boland, head of Force Planning for the NATO Defense Policy and Planning Directorate, visited Georgia to meet with the country's top defense and military officials and prepare the nation for the next stage of NATO integration.

The month before, only weeks after the war had ended, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "Georgia, like any sovereign country, should have the ability to defend itself and deter renewed aggression, and there should be not be any question about whether Georgia is entitled to military assistance from the United States or, indeed, from NATO or any of the NATO allies.” President George Bush supported Biden's call for $1 billion worth of non-military aid to Georgia, which at the time was remarked would "dwarf the 63 million dollars that Washington provided to Georgia last year. Excluding Iraq, the infusion would make Georgia one of the largest recipients of American foreign aid after Israel and Egypt." [5] Georgia has a population of 4.6 million, Egypt of 80 million.

Until now, however, the U.S. has been cautious about rebuilding and upgrading Georgia's military arsenal or at least acknowledging that it is doing so. If recent reports prove true, Georgia is to receive a large quantity of high-tech weapons from the U.S., including surface-to-air missile complexes, Stinger and other portable surface-to-air missiles, Javelin third generation guided missiles and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, the latter two designed for penetrating armor. Three weeks ago South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity warned that "Georgia only pays lip service to peace, continues to rearm and refuses to sign non-aggression pacts that can avert another South Caucasus war." [6]

According to Russian military expert Victor Baranets, "Georgia is buying anti-missile and anti-tank weapons because the 2008 war showed that these are weak points of the Georgian army." [7] In short, the U.S. will provide precisely the weapons Tbilisi needs for a new assault against South Ossetia and a new war with Russia. Saakashvili is now in Washington, where "the purchase of weapons will be the main topic of his talks with American leaders." His trip is centered on attending a memorial to the late White House Afghanistan- Pakistan special representative Richard Holbrooke in Washington, D.C. on December 14 at which President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will pay tribute to the deceased.

On January 12 Saakashvili became the first foreign leader to meet with the new speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. The latter released a statement after the meeting which said: "The American people will continue to stand with others struggling for democracy over the forces of despotism, dignity over degradation, and freedom over subjugation. " [8] His statement also expressed appreciation to Georgia for supplying the Pentagon with 2,000 troops for the war in Iraq and 1,000 so far for that in Afghanistan.

The Georgian leader met with other lawmakers, including Senator Joseph Lieberman, upon whom he bestowed the St. George's Victory Order. Saakashvili announced last month that he - not the mayor of Tbilisi - would named a street in his nation's capital after Holbrooke, a "trusted friend and confidant" who co-authored a piece in the Washington Post during the 2008 war denouncing what he termed the "full-scale Russian invasion of Georgia."

While Washington's favorite foreign head of state is being hailed and regaled with attention and praise in the capital, his foreign minister referred to a recent agreement between Abkhazia and Russia as "fascism." [9] The day before he arrived in the U.S., Saakashvili said in an interview to a Ukrainian television station: "As for NATO, I am absolutely convinced that this is just a matter of time."

"Nobody can ensure their security on their own, especially small countries, but I think this concerns Ukraine as well," he added. After seven years of mercurial, megalomaniacal, adventurist, dictatorial and murderous rule [10], Saakashvili remains the Washington political establishment' s pampered darling ne plus ultra. At the NATO summit in November of last year, President Obama met privately with him the day before the NATO-Russia Council meeting with President Medvedev occurred.

Last July Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Georgia as Saakashvili' s guest and lambasted Russia for "occupying" Abkhazia and South Ossetia, described as Georgian territories although neither has ever been part of an independent Georgia. In her own words: "We, the United States, was appalled, and totally rejected the invasion and occupation of Georgian territory. I was in the Senate at the time, and, along with my colleagues and the prior Administration, made that view very clear. We continue to speak out, as I have on this trip, against the continuing occupation." [11]

At a joint press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Nikoloz Gilauri ahead of the second omnibus meeting of the U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership in October, she stated: "The relationship between Georgia and the United States stands on a foundation of shared values and common interests... .The United States will not waver in its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. That support is a core principle of our Charter on Strategic Partnership, and it is fundamental to our bilateral relationship. "

"The United States remains committed to Georgia’s aspirations for membership in NATO, as reflected in the Alliance’s decisions in Bucharest and Strasbourg-Kehl. We strongly support Georgia’s efforts related to its Annual National Program, which promotes defense reform and guides cooperation with NATO. And we continue to support Georgia’s efforts on defense reform and improving defense capabilities, including NATO interoperability and Georgia’s contributions to ISAF operations in Afghanistan. "

"We continue to call on Russia to end its occupation of Georgian territory, withdraw its forces, and abide by its other commitments under the 2008 ceasefire agreements." [12] Her comments led the government of Abkhazia to challenge her to acknowledge countries like Afghanistan and Iraq as American-occupied territories. Later in the month a NATO delegation inspected the Krtsanisi National Training Center and its Simulation Training Center - built by the U.S. - in Georgia (where U.S. Marines have trained Georgian soldiers and where three Georgian soldiers were killed and thirteen wounded in an explosion this month) as part of NATO Days events in the nation.

Also in October, Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, visited the Krtsanisi National Training Center and the simulation facility to view training exercises of the Georgian battalion that would replace one serving under NATO command in Afghanistan. He also toured the newly established NATO Liaison Office in the Georgian capital. In November Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Phillip Gordon told BBC: "We...recognize Georgia's sovereignty and integrity. We are absolutely clear with Russia, we disagree on Georgia. [W]e want to see an end to Russian occupation and...we stand by Georgia`s sovereignty and territorial integrity." [13] At the same time Georgian Deputy Minister of Defense Nikoloz Vashakidze was sequestered with top U.S. officials in closed-door meetings at the Pentagon. The "negotiations were held within the framework agreement on cooperation in the defence sector between the US and Georgia." [14]

As the Georgian deputy defense chief was in Washington, South Ossetian First Deputy Foreign Minister Alan Pliev warned: "We are concerned about Georgia's intention to increase its military capacities. Now Georgia is planning to buy a number of Merkava 4 Israeli tanks, which are clearly not meant for defensive action. "The activation of the Georgian Defense Ministry, increased flights of Georgian drones near the borders of South Ossetia, as well as the maniacal opposition to signing a non-aggression agreement give rise to the reasonable assumption of a newly designed bloody venture by Georgian authorities. " [15] The official also stated that due to assistance from the U.S. and other NATO states the military-technical capacity of the Georgian armed forces currently exceeds that at the start of the war in 2008.

On November 16 the NATO Parliamentary Assembly met in Poland and passed a resolution referring to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as "occupied territories. " The Abkhazian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response which included the following: "The Abkhazian party considers this biased interpretation of the events yet another manifestation of NATO's pro-Georgian position. "NATO is an organization that has been contributing to the intensive militarization of Georgia for many years, stirring up the revanchist mindset of the Georgian leadership, which led to the August 2008 bloodshed in South Ossetia." [16]

At their meeting during the Lisbon NATO summit, Obama "thanked his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili for his country's participation in NATO-led international peace efforts in Afghanistan and reaffirmed the United States' support of Georgia's territorial integrity." [17] Saakashvili offered more troops for the war in Afghanistan, pledged that his nation's contingent would remain there as long as NATO does, confirmed that Obama backed his country becoming a full NATO member ("President Obama has supported Georgia's course that will lead it to joining NATO") and said that the NATO summit declaration cleared the way for Georgia to join the military bloc without the customary Membership Action Plan requirement.

The Lisbon summit declaration affirms that NATO will "continue and develop the partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia within the NATO-Ukraine and NATO-Georgia Commissions, based on the NATO decision at the Bucharest summit 2008, and taking into account the Euro-Atlantic orientation or aspiration of each of the countries." On December 1, at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Kazakhstan, during which she met privately with Saakashvili, Hillary Clinton advocated "a meaningful OSCE presence in Georgia." In 1998 and until NATO's war against Yugoslavia commenced in March of the following year her husband's administration employed the OSCE's Kosovo Verification Mission, under the control of the notorious William Walker, to set the stage for the 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia and the wresting of Kosovo from Serbia. [18]

Also early last month, the NATO-Georgia Commission met in Brussels and Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister and Secretary of the National Security Council Giga Bokeria, representing his country at the meeting, stated: "The resolution of the summit says that NATO continues to assist Georgia in carrying out reforms, recognizes its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and calls on Russia to abolish the decision in connection with recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

Afterwards, "issues of cooperation between Georgia and NATO were discussed at the headquarters of the Alliance, at a meeting of the Georgian National Security Council's Secretary Gigi Bokeria and the NATO Deputy Secretary General. "The NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the South Caucasus James Appathurai attended the meeting in his new status." [19] As a footnote, "In 2003, after a visit to Serbia to study peaceful revolution techniques, Bokeria helped bring Serb activists from the youth movement Otpor to Georgia to train students in the same techniques. As a result, the youth movement 'Kmara' was established, which played a leading role in the November 2003 Rose Revolution." [20]

On December 3 the U.S. ambassador to Georgia, John Bass, was quoted as affirming: "The United States remains firmly committed to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We enjoy a strong defense relationship, defense cooperation, and we're currently working closely with the Ministry of Defense and other Ministries in Georgia to improve Georgia's ability to defend itself." [21] Three days later Bass visited the Krtsanisi National Training Center and "also took a tour of the Simulation Center and attended model exercises on the ground." [22] The American envoy is routinely present at send-off and welcoming ceremonies for U.S. Marine Corps-trained Georgian troops deployed to Afghanistan. In fact the Pentagon instituted the Georgia Train and Equip Program in 2002, first under Green Beret, then Marine, control in 2002 and later the Georgian Sustainment and Stability Operations Program three years later.

While still commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James Conway visited Georgia in August of 2009 to inaugurate the latest Marine training of the host country's armed forces. At the time Associated Press reported that when asked if the preparation could be applied "to the possibility of another war with Russia," he answered, "In general, yes." Last September Saakashvili addressed cadets graduating from a new training center at the Kutaisi Military Base and stated: "[S]omeone may say: 'we have so many problems, our territories are occupied and there is no time now for going somewhere else to fight.' But because of these very same problems that we have, we need huge combat experience.. .and that [Afghan mission] is a unique combat and war school." [23]

On December 9 Associated Press, reporting on an interview with Georgian Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze, stated he was "raising the issue [of a "road map" to full NATO membership] in Washington this week with the Obama administration. " He further "said Georgia already behaves as if it were a member of NATO." On the same day a bill crafted and introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Lindsey Graham, co-chairs of the Atlantic Council Task Force on Georgia, called "A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate with respect to the territorial integrity of Georgia and the situation within Georgia's internationally recognized borders," was presented to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. It refers to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Georgian territories "occupied by the Russian Federation."

The next day Shaheen's and Graham's colleague Senator John McCain spoke at a conference titled "Forging a Transatlantic Consensus on Russia" at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at which he demanded the resumption and increase of arms sales to Georgia, stating: "For two years, mostly out of deference to Russia, defensive arms sales have not been authorized for Georgia. This has to change. At a minimum we should provide Georgia with early warning radars and other basic capabilities to strengthen its defenses.

"Our allies in central and eastern Europe view Georgia as a test case of whether the United States will stand by them or not. Russia views Georgia as a test case, too - of how much it can get away with in Georgia, and if there then elsewhere. It is the policy of our government to support Georgia's aspiration to join NATO." [24]

Afterward, Robert Pszczel, the new director of the NATO Information Office in Moscow and formerly acting NATO Deputy Spokesman, confirmed that "NATO will continue its Eastward enlargement policy" and that "The NATO-Georgia Commission continues its work." [25] In mid-December U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Alexander Vershbow and Georgia's Vice Prime Minister and State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze met in Washington to plan Georgia's NATO accession. The Georgian official stated afterward that "Meeting with Vershbow is very important, as he is actively engaged in the issues of NATO enlargement, as well as personally ensuring Georgia's accession into the alliance." [26] Baramidze, who studied at Georgetown University and was the country's defense minister in 2004, also met with members of the U.S. Senate on the bill discussed above.

....

U.S. troops were in Georgia during the five-day war with Russia in 2008 and later in the same month American warships were docked in the country's ports as ships from the Russian Black Sea Fleet were deployed within firing range. Never before have military forces from the world's two major nuclear powers been on opposing sides of a battle line during wartime. By increasing the provision of sophisticated weaponry to Georgia, Washington is taunting Russia on its southern border and running the risk of a military conflict that may draw it into a direct confrontation with its main nuclear rival.


Georgia Declares NATO Summit a Success While Armenia Boycott


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While most of the headlines [8] from the just-concluded NATO summit in Lisbon have focused on the news that the alliance would remain in Afghanistan through 2014, and probably longer, behind the scenes there was plenty of action on the Eurasia front, as well. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili went to the summit, and got a much-coveted meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, and afterwards he took great pains to emphasize how special and unique the meeting was (via Civil.ge [9]):

“I am very satisfied with this meeting,” Saakashvili told a group of Georgian journalists in Lisbon after meeting with President Obama late on November 19 evening. “As you know this was President Obama’s only meeting here at NATO summit, apart his meetings with [Afghan] President Karzai and with the hosts [referring to Portuguese leaders] – and you know that Afghanistan tops the agenda of this summit; actually he had no other meetings here except of these ones. Of course this is already in itself an important message.”

The White House also notes that Obama met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul [10]. And the Kazakhstan state news agency Kazinform says that its president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, also met with Obama [11], but no one else, including the White House, seems to be reporting that. The Georgian government also announced [12] it was adding a bit to its contingent of troops in Afghanistan, by sending 20 trainers for the Afghan National Army. And it praised the joint communique [13] issued by the summit participants for reiterating its support for Georgian membership in NATO. (The title of the email I got was "Georgia 'Will Become a Member of NATO,' Declares NATO As Lisbon Summit Concludes.") That communique, however, caused some consternation in Yerevan, for declaring its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan (among other states) and not mentioning self-determination:

We remain committed in our support of the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, and will also continue to support efforts towards a peaceful settlement of these regional conflicts, taking into account these principles.

Translated into the context of Nagorno Karabakh, of course, this would mean that it should belong to Azerbaijan, not the Armenians who exercise de facto control there. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, aware that NATO was going to make that statement, stayed away from the summit in protest [14]. It seems that the statement was not particularly directed at Armenia: One member of the presidential party says [15] it seems to have been put there by Georgia, and Sargsyan's office's statement just warned [14] that "generalized formulations" of the various Caucasus conflicts were "unacceptable."

But the joint communique from the 2008 summit [16] used exactly the same language with respect to Armenia, so one has to wonder what has changed in Yerevan that they decided they needed to make this move. The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, did go [17] to Lisbon, but aside from Nazarbayev, no other Central Asian leaders appear to have. The most talked-about Eurasia-related issues leading up to the summit -- Turkey's participation [18] in the NATO missile defense system, and NATO's own "reset" with Russia [19], unfolded without drama. NATO and Russia announced [20] a new "strategic partnership," and Turkey got its way [21] in regard to the proposed NATO missile defense system, and Iran was not mentioned as the target of the system, thus not forcing Ankara to choose between its NATO ties and its improving relations with Tehran. But that does not end the discussion on Turkey's participation in the shield, and Ankara is making some demands on control of the system. Reports Hurriyet:

“Turkey was asking to be part of the command system especially on matters directly concerning Turkey,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said. Ankara seeks to have NATO’s İzmir headquarters designated as the missile-defense command center instead of Germany’s Ramstein base, as the United States has insisted. Turkey’s good relations with countries such as Iran and Syria – both believed to be developing nuclear weapons – will help reduce the tension between the alliance and these countries, Ankara has argued. NATO had planned to close the İzmir base as part of a restructuring program of its operational headquarters and command centers, but Turkish officials want it to remain open in order to retain Ankara’s influence within the alliance.

To me, the most intriguing bit of news from a not-very-newsworthy summit is Armenia's move. Armenia's relations with NATO countries have never been especially tight, and it certainly seems possible to read too much into Sargsyan's boycott, but they seemed to be intent on making a statement by it. Are they just trying to call attention to the issue, or was it a rebuke directly aimed at NATO? Any ideas?

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/62416

Georgians Build Ties With Russian Caucasus


At 6 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, a satellite news channel financed by the Georgian government went on the air with a palpable air of excitement. Unlike Georgia’s other channels, First Caucasus News was broadcasting in Russian — its target audience includes viewers north of its border, in the mountainous and restive Russian region known as the North Caucasus. As the debut approached, the channel’s general director promised repeatedly that Kanal PIK, as the channel is known, would not be used as a vehicle for anti-Russian propaganda. Then the inaugural broadcast began, and in the course of a question-and-answer session two hours and 40 minutes long, President Mikheil Saakashvili said the people of the North Caucasus were chafing under Moscow’s rule — and that a haven awaited them in Georgia.

“The North Caucasus has become a ghetto,” he said. “These people have been given to the local feudal lords, who can kill them, rape them, hang them by their feet, torture them, take everything. Obviously, these people behave one way there, and a different way when they enter a country where there is rule of law.” The remark fleshed out a high-risk strategy Mr. Saakashvili rolled out last fall, when in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly he envisioned a union of the North and South Caucasus that would “join the European family of free nations, following the Georgian path.” (He noted that this vision did not call for changing borders.)

Georgia went on to drop visa requirements for residents of the North Caucasus — including Russian republics like Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya, among others — allowing them to enter the country freely for 90 days. The offer attracted more than 12,000 visitors in the next three months, many of them Muslim pilgrims taking advantage of an overland route to the hajj, Georgian officials say. Meanwhile, Caucasian solidarity is an increasingly fashionable topic in Tbilisi, which last year hosted two conferences on Russian atrocities against the Circassians, an ethnic group driven out of the region in the late czarist period. A organization representing the Didos, a tiny ethnicity from Dagestan, appealed to the Georgian Parliament in December to be accepted into Georgian jurisdiction.

The president’s initiative to promote unity in the Caucasus drills straight into one of Moscow’s greatest anxieties. The night before Kanal PIK’s debut, a suicide bomber killed dozens at Domodedovo Airport outside Moscow, the latest in a series of attacks by insurgents from the North Caucasus. The Kremlin has been trying to stamp out resistance there since the breakup of the Soviet Union — through two civil wars, a heavy-handed police presence, power-sharing with repressive local elites and huge cash transfers, among other tactics. But the insurgency is still able to threaten Moscow’s long-term interests — among them the 2014 Olympics planned for Sochi, at the western edge of the Caucasus. Russia’s foreign minister dismissed Tbilisi’s decision to drop visa requirements as “another propagandistic step,” but other officials openly accused Georgia of opening a corridor for terrorists. Western diplomats have warned Georgia that direct engagement with the North Caucasus could be risky.

In a wide-ranging report to be published later this month by the Center for American Progress, based in Washington, Samuel Charap and Cory Welt say the policy was begun “unilaterally, in the absence of normal diplomatic relations, and to a part of Russia that is the locus of its greatest internal security threat: a violent and growing Islamist insurgency.”

“Regardless of the Georgian government’s motives, this policy will inevitably be seen in Moscow as designed to stoke instability,” the report says. Georgian officials respond that, amid sustained military tension with Russia, they have no choice but to shore up relations with all their neighbors. They also note that Russian offensives against Georgia have sometimes included detachments from the North Caucasus. “Some of my friends from the West would tell me, ‘Why do you need the North Caucasus, won’t it be an extra headache?’ ” Mr. Saakashvili said during the question-and-answer session. “And then I ask, ‘Next time our friend Vladimir sends 50,000 Chechen soldiers to us, will your soldiers protect us?’ ”

At Kanal PIK’s studio shortly after its debut, political questions were eclipsed by logistics. The channel is abundantly financed for its six-hour daily broadcast — it received 7 million euros, or about $9.5 million, in startup money. Its studio smelled slightly of cocoa butter and had a sleek look; its set designer works for the sports-car maker Bugatti, said Robert Parsons, the station’s general director and co-owner of its management company. But it has proved nearly impossible for reporters to work in the Russian North Caucasus. The channel’s small number of employees there are, as Mr. Parsons put it, “terrified, really.” One journalist has stopped answering his phone when he sees the call is from a Tbilisi number, said Ekaterina Kotrikadze, the channel’s assistant news director and a co-owner of its management company. A cameraman in Chechnya resigned after he was approached personally by the region’s Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, she said. “They were obliged to run away to the village for a month,” she said. “They have changed their mind about working with us.”

It is Georgia’s second attempt to break the Kremlin’s near-monopoly on television news in Russian territory. A previous Russian-language channel, called First Caucasian, went off the air last year when its French satellite operator backed out of a deal, saying it had received a better offer from Russia’s Gazprom Media Group. Mr. Parsons, who is on sabbatical from France24 television, said that the rebranded station would have complete editorial independence from the government — it’s “not even to have a hint of propaganda” — and that he hoped Russia would not be at the center of its coverage. “Traditionally, historically, linguistically, this has been for a far greater period of time part of the world to the south than the world to the north,” he said. “If you look at the links with Iran and Turkey, the roots are far deeper than they are with Russia.”

On a recent afternoon, a Circassian flag hung in the station’s newsroom, and a veteran Chechen newscaster had flown in from Canada and was looking for apartments in Tbilisi. Mr. Parsons was reviewing “Occupation,” a new documentary about the aftermath of the 2008 war, which featured a montage of historical injuries and deaths at the hands of Russian and Soviet forces. “It’s quite a passionate little film,” said Melanie Anstey, the channel’s deputy director for general programming, delicately. “It doesn’t say, ‘On the one hand, on the other hand.’ ” Among few programs to survive from the channel’s earlier iteration is a talk show hosted by Alla Dudayeva, widow of the Chechen rebel leader Dzhokar M. Dudayev, who was killed by a Russian rocket in 1996. On “Caucasian Portrait,” Mrs. Dudayeva — who has delicate features and a light, girlish voice — paints her guest’s portrait while conducting an interview.

Though Mrs. Dudayeva steers clear of politics on her show, she makes no secret of her beliefs: that Russia is one or possibly two years away from collapse; that Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin’s rise to power was predicted by Nostradamus; that Russian special services carried out all the major terrorist attacks of recent years, and intentionally downed a plane carrying Poland’s president; that the militants, she said, are “people courageous enough to keep fighting for the freedom of their motherland and, now, for the liberation of the Caucasus.” She said she hoped her program would convince Russians that the citizens of the North Caucasus were not the enemy, a message she said official Moscow had tried to convey. “More than anything,” she said, “they are afraid of the truth.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/world/europe/13georgia.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=georgia%20russia&st=cse

Georgia's President says terror attack in Moscow was 'payback'

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Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia, told The Independent yesterday that attacks like Monday's suicide bombing at a Moscow airport were "payback" for Russia's policies in the North Caucasus, as he compared the country to a "crocodile ready to swallow you up". Mr Saakashvili and the Russian leadership have exchanged regular insults since the 2008 war between the countries over the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but his comments are likely to enrage Moscow, coming so soon after the blast at Domodedovo Airport that killed 35 people.

Speaking in the Georgian capital last night, President Saakashvili – whose country's two breakaway regions are recognised by Moscow as independent states – accused Russia of trying to destabilise neighbouring countries by encouraging secessionist movements. "I discussed this personally with Vladimir Putin a while ago. I said to him that the payback for his country for supporting separatists would be that violence would come back to hit them as well," Mr Saakashvili said. "Putin said, 'No, if anyone tries anything against us, we shall crush them like cockroaches,' while jabbing and twisting his thumb on the table in front him."

Before his interview with The Independent, the Georgian President made similar comments in a televised question-and-answer session. "Russia has a political mentality which is on the level of a reptile, like a crocodile ready to swallow you up," Mr Saakashvili said. There is a well-documented personal enmity between Mr Saakashvili and Mr Putin. The Georgian President once said that talking to Mr Putin was "like somebody standing with an axe at your head and saying: "Don't worry, everything's OK, close your eyes and relax.'"

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...k-2195551.html

Georgian Blockade: Armenia to seek alternative route for Russian military cargo transit to Gyumri

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This week Georgia suspended the Russian-Georgian agreement on transit of military cargo and personnel to Russian bases through its territory. Initiated by Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and unanimously approved by the parliament, the decree provides for the annulment of the agreement according to which Russia was supplying military equipment and personnel to the military base N102 deployed in the Armenian city of Gyumri. Considering the fact that Armenia’s other neighbors are Turkey and Azerbaijan, it is unclear how the Russian military equipment will be transported to Armenia, especially that Georgia has blocked not only land but also air communication.

One thing is clear though: the decision of Georgian authorities is against the implementation of the Armenian-Russian protocol on the extension of the deployment term signed last year.

During the August visit of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to Armenia, Yerevan and Moscow signed a protocol on extending the term of deployment of the Russian military base in Gyumri for up to 49 years – set to expire in 2046. From the perspective of the development of the Armenian state, the Armenian-Georgian relations are not really much different from Armenian-Azeri relations. It is not even about the ousting of the Armenian demographic element from the territory of the Georgian state or the systematic obliteration of the Armenian cultural trace – epigraphic inscriptions, churches, cemeteries.

The main issue is that Georgia is a participant of the political reorganization of the Trans-Caucasus. The only case when such “Georgian mission” became the subject of discussions on the highest level, has been the second president Robert Kocharyan’s non-lasting polemics with the current president of Georgia. The issues touched upon back then were directly linked to “Tbilisi efforts” at maintaining Armenia’s state of blockade. Kocharyan pointed out that the only country suffering real damage from the so-called “Abkhazian blockade” is Armenia. Addressing Saakashvili he even asked: “How can you talk about Abkhazian blockade, if it is not an enclave and has a direct land communication with Russia including a railway, and has sea ports?”

Neither before nor after that conversation of seven years ago has the nature of the Armenian blockade been viewed on the backdrop of Georgian politics. A lot has been said, both before and now, about the Azeri and Turkish fronts of blockade, but never about the Georgian front. Moreover, the outstanding role of the northern neighbor has always been especially stressed in the process of providing essential commodities to Armenia; statistical data are voiced – more than 70 percent of all cargo transfers are done through Georgia.

A few words about Georgian argumentation are worth noting in this connection. When in the early nineties Georgian citizens (the Azeri population of Marneuli region bordering with Armenia) was repeatedly blowing up the pipeline supplying fuel to de-energized Armenia, the then president Eduard Shevarnadze stated that an extremely complicated situation had formed in the country and the authorities were unable to control it in all the regions.

Meanwhile, the explosions were set up some 60 km south of Tbilisi, and all concerned were well aware that the Azeri population of Georgia – as a participant of the anti-Armenian war – had card-blanche on such actions. Shevarnadze’s successor – Saakashvili – has adopted a similarly evasive policy when “grounding” the blockade of the Abkhaz sector of the Trans-Caucasian railroad – the only railway exit from Armenia to Russia.

In particular, he talks about the “natural essence ” of that blockade (“because of the separatist regime in Abkhazia”), although, as it was mention above, there is no such thing as Abkhazian blockade – only the last Armenian railway exit to Russia was blocked. The current decision to annul the agreement can also be perceived as “natural”, considering the 2008 August war and the current stage in Russia-Georgia relations – how can one imagine transportation through its territory of military equipment belonging to a hostile country aiming at strengthening its positions in the region?

"It is clear that Azerbaijan will not allow Russia to deliver military supplies to the base in Gyumri in Armenia. Now Georgia is also closing. There remains only one way - through Iran. Of course, this way is very complicated and expensive, but there is no way out for Russia in this situation", Georgian political expert Mamuka Areshidze said in an interview with Russian Regnum news agency. Armenian authorities have not commented on the decision of the Georgian leadership yet.

Source: http://armenianow.com/commentary/opinion/29216/military_supplies_armenia_russian_base_gyumri

Israeli Weapons to Be Part of Georgian-Abkhaz Conflict?

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Israel may soon have another Caucasus client for its weaponry -- the breakaway region of Abkhazia. Abkhazia’s de facto official news agency Apsny Press reported on April 14 that separatist leader Sergei Bagapsh has struck a deal in Moscow with Israeli company Global CST to supply unspecified defense technologies to Abkhazia. Former defense officials participated in the negotiations, which, the agency claims, had the Israeli government's blessing. A delegation of ex-officials and representatives of the company are Sokhumi-bound this week, the agency reported. The news came amidst a reported cooling-off in Georgian-Israeli ties. Another Israeli contractor is suing Georgia for allegedly failing to pay for military equipment purchases. A Georgian court's recent conviction of two Israeli businessmen on bribery charges has added further tensions to the backdrop.

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/63293

Why does Israel have links to a breakaway state supported by Hamas?

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Georgia can’t understand how retired IDF generals at Global Group are willing to maintain contact with a breakaway state.

Around three weeks ago, two retired Israeli generals landed in Moscow. Their trip, which was intended to be secret but has been publicized in the Israeli and Georgian press, entangled Israel in a diplomatic incident with Georgia and is embarrassing the Foreign Ministry. While in Moscow, the retired generals - Israel Ziv, the founder and owner of the security consulting firm Global Group and the former head of the Israel Defense Forces operations directorate, and Meir Khalifi, Global’s latest acquisition and former prime ministerial military secretary to Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu - met with Sergei Bagapsh, the president of the breakaway Georgian state Abkhazia, whose independence is recognized by only four countries. They later met with the Abkhazian prime minister, Sergey Shamba, as well. The secession was one of the causes of the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, which does recognize Abkhazia.

The meetings were first reported on Israel’s Russian-language news website IzRus, and spread to the Georgian media like wildfire. Ziv was quoted as saying that “the Israeli side recognizes the importance of the strategic dialogue with Russia and Abkhazia, and supports these ties.” IzRus reported that Ziv declared his willingness to supply Abkhazia with “non-assault military techniques.” These reports greatly angered the Georgian government. Georgian government officials and the Georgian ambassador to Israel, Vakhtang Jaoshvili, contacted Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and requested an explanation.

The Georgians are having difficulty understanding how it could be that these retired IDF generals are willing to maintain contact with an entity that is not recognized by most of the world’s countries and whose supporters include Hamas. In addition to Russia, the only other countries in the world that recognize Abkhazia are Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Pacific island nation of Nauru, which is rumored to have received tens of millions of dollars in grants from Russia in return for its recognition. Georgian officials are also puzzled by how Global could be so cynical as to offer its services to Georgia’s enemy even though it served as a security consultant to Tbilisi before the 2008 war. Most of all, the Georgian government wants to know whether the generals were operating with the knowledge and consent of the Israeli government.

“Once again Ziv and Global are creating complications,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry official said, alluding to previous imbroglios in Africa and South America. The ministry’s deputy director general, Pinhas Avivi, said it had not known about the trip beforehand. “The initial information came to us via the media,” he said. “We made it unequivocally clear that we do not recognize Abkhazia and we will not allow the export of any security equipment to it.” The statement was echoed by the Israeli ambassador in Tbilisi, Itzhak Gerberg, who said Israel’s position regarding Abkhazia is clear. “We do not recognize it as an independent country and Israel will not sell arms to them,” he said. “It is possible that private businessmen visited Abkhazia, but they cannot speak for the government of Israel or represent it.”

The Defense Ministry’s response was more ambiguous. It said in a statement that “the issues discussed [by Ziv and Khalifi] do not have any bearing on the military-security field, and in any case, the Defense Ministry did not issue any licenses.” The ministry also said it was not generally informed of Ziv’s trips abroad beforehand and that it “does not usually provide detailed information regarding its dealings with various companies.” Global realized what a mess had been created a little late. Khalifi called Avivi and later met with Jaoshvili, the Georgian ambassador to Israel, to explain that that the purpose of the meetings was to investigate the possibility of investing in “civilian infrastructure.”

“Global has never acted in a way that entails harming the State of Israel or its foreign affairs,” the company said through its lawyers. This is not the first time that Global, and Ziv specifically, have been entangled in an international diplomatic incident. In 2009 Global was in negotiations with Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, who was at the time the military dictator of the West African nation of Guinea, to set up and arm a presidential guard at a cost of some $10 million. The negotiations, with which former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami was also involved, were found to be taking place without the consent of Israel’s Defense Ministry and were eventually halted in response to pressure from the Foreign Ministry.

A ministerial committee fined Global NIS 90,000 for operating without government authorization but agreed to let the company use that money to educate its employees about the procedures for defense-related exports from Israel. Global has also been active in Colombia, where, with Ben-Ami’s help, he won a contract to train the country’s special forces and intelligence units to fight the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. With the help of the U.S. Army, the CIA and consulting and training from Ziv and other Global consultants, the Colombian government did well, pulling off the daring 2008 rescue of Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who had been held hostage by FARC for six years.

But recently it was discovered that even where Ziv earned praise, not everything was as rosy as it appeared. WikiLeaks documents recently published in Haaretz revealed some harsh criticism of Global from senior Colombian defense officials, including the allegation that a Global employee obtained classified Colombian Army documents and was planning to sell them to FARC militants. The WikiLeaks documents also showed that the U.S. government had exerted heavy pressure on Colombia, as well as Panama, not to employ Global’s services. By then, the Global contract with Colombia had ended so the pressure was irrelevant. But Panama gave in to Washington’s demand and canceled its $10 million contract with Global to train its army.

Source: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/why-does-israel-have-links-to-a-breakaway-state-supported-by-hamas-1.359900


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Georgia Not Doing Enough in Javakhk, Says International Crisis Group

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In a repot entitled “Georgia: The Javakheti Region’s Integration Challenges” the International Crisis Group stresses that Georgia needs to improve integration of its mostly Armenian-populated Javakheti (Javakhk) region. "Many Javakheti residents do not feel like full-fledged Georgian citizens. Dialogue with local stakeholders is very important, and flexible language policies, targeted economic projects, and encouraging more involvement with the rest of the country will help Georgia demonstrate its intention to remain a multi-ethnic country where minorities feel welcome,” says Lawrence Sheets, Crisis Group’s Caucasus Project Director.

The region counts 95,000 mainly Armenian speakers, and its cultural, economic and sometimes political reliance on Armenia could make it more vulnerable to outside interference. However, Yerevan has recently played a stabilizing role in decreasing tensions there. Georgia has also been concerned about Moscow’s influence, especially since the region housed a Russian military base that was only closed in 2007. The 2008 war again increased Tbilisi’s fear that Russia could use the region to destabilize the country, though at present this seems highly unlikely.

“It is in Georgia’s national interest to continue to increase its focus on the region, to build confidence with local leaders and engender a sense of loyalty towards the state”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “It should provide an example of respect for minority rights in a part of the world where minorities who feel discriminated against have all too often been attracted by secession”. Asbarez will provide analysis on the report but is publishing below the overview of the report.

Georgia: The Javakheti Region’s Integration Challenges

OVERVIEW

The mostly Armenian-populated Javakheti region, along the southern border with Armenia and Turkey, has been a potential flashpoint since Georgia’s 1991 independence, when a paramilitary group practically ran it, and physical links with the rest of the country were weak. After the 2008 Georgia-Russia war, many outside observers, recalling that there had been violent demonstrations in Javakheti in 2005 and 2006, predicted it would be the next to seek autonomy – or more. But the situation has stabilized. Tbilisi has successfully implemented programs to increase the region’s ties to the rest of the country, stopped projects that were seen as discriminatory and reduced the influence of the few remaining radical groups. It should maintain this momentum and take additional steps to guarantee that Javakheti and its 95,000 mainly Armenian speakers feel fully integrated in Georgia and provide an example of respect for minority rights in a region where minorities who feel discriminated against have all too often been attracted to secession, such as in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Lack of knowledge of the state language (Georgian) and poverty encourages migration from the region to Armenia and Russia. A paucity of media reporting on the isolated area helps reinforce feelings of marginalization. Many Javakheti residents do not feel like full-fledged citizens, so prefer to become involved in the political and cultural life of neighboring Armenia, whose nationalist groups are quick to argue that they are the victims of ethnic discrimination due to Georgian government policies and to amplify their grievances over poverty, unemployment, education and the lack of formal laws recognizing Armenian as a “regional language” in Javakheti. However, the current Yerevan authorities are playing a stabilizing role in decreasing tensions and have arrested alleged Javakheti radicals in Armenia.


Georgia was concerned about Moscow’s intentions in the region, especially as a major Russian military base – a left-over from the Soviet era – was located there. Some Russian commentators speculated that the Kremlin could use its influence in Javakheti to cause Georgia to renounce its NATO membership aspirations. But the base was closed in 2007, and Moscow lost more of its ability to manipulate local grievances the next year, when it committed to Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence. Nevertheless, in Tbilisi fear that Russia could use the region to destabilize Georgia has increased since the war, even though this presently seems highly unlikely.

Although Javakheti poses no immediate threat to Georgia’s territorial integrity, Tbilisi needs to continue to increase its focus on the region, so as to build confidence with local leaders and engender a sense of loyalty towards the state. This would help to avoid interpretations that the local aspects of nationwide problems, such as the economy, reflect ethnic discrimination. To ensure the political stability and sustainable development of Javakheti and improve regional integration, thereby reducing the region’s vulnerability to destabilization, the Georgian government, with the support of international partners, should:

•provide the public with comprehensive information in Armenian on its policies and facilitate public discussions on issues, such as integration, language and human rights;

•build the capacities of educated and motivated local officials, further training them in public administration while creating an open and restriction-free environment for local business;

•provide long-term budgetary resources to make educational projects such as multilingual schools, teacher training, translation of Georgian textbooks into Armenian and Georgian-as-a-second-language courses more systematized and sustainable; do more to attract Georgian language teachers to Javakheti; and give scholarships for higher education to Javakheti Armenians on condition that they return to teach;

•codify current language and education practices for the minority population in national legislation; honor the spirit of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (ECRML) while working toward its ratification;

•encourage more private investment, with a view to bringing the Javakheti economic ultimately to the national level; and

•offer to fund local television stations’ translations of nationwide programs, including talk shows, and encourage the public broadcaster (TV Channels 1 and 2) and other national television stations to improve coverage of Javakheti.

Nationalist groups and media in Armenia should fully acknowledge that Javakheti’s residents are Georgian citizens and refrain from over-politicizing sensitive issues by labeling them cases of ethnic discrimination. Many of Javakheti’s problems are shared by other isolated regions in Georgia. The donor community and international organizations should continue to work with Tbilisi to further develop democratic institutions, judicial independence, rule of law and free media, with a view to improving stability in Javakheti as in the rest of Georgia.

Source: http://asbarez.com/96054/georgia-not-doing-enough-in-javakhk-says-international-crisis-group/

Medvedev says Gaddafi must go

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Muammar Gaddafi's regime has lost its legitimacy and the Libyan leader must leave his post, but Moscow will not give him shelter, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday. "If you saw the [summit's final] declaration, it is written there that the regime of Gaddafi has lost its legitimacy and he must leave," Medvedev said at a press conference after the G8 summit in Deauville. Asked whether Moscow would be ready to provide asylum to Gaddafi, Medvedev said, "It wouldn't." Gaddafi should step down before the issue of shelter could be discussed, Medvedev said, indicating that other countries might be willing to offer asylum. The question came amid media reports that the United States and France have asked Medvedev to make an exile offer to Gaddafi in an effort to persuade him to leave the country. Medvedev said that Russia wants Libya to remain a free and independent state.

Middle East

Russia supports U.S. President Barack Obama's position on the need to create a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, Medvedev said. "I told my colleague Barack Obama yesterday that I absolutely agree with his position," he said. "This is the only viable basis for the establishment of a [Palestinian] state," he said, adding Russia "absolutely" supports US President Barack Obama's assertion that Israel's 1967 borders must be the basis for negotiations on establishment of a Palestinian state, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday. In a landmark speech at the State Department last week, Obama said "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states." "I told my colleague Barack Obama yesterday that I absolutely agree with his position [on the Palestinian state]," Medvedev said at a press conference at the conclusion of the G8 summit in France. "It is the only basis for the creation of the [Palestinian] state," he said adding that Israel and the Palestinians bore equal responsibility for resolving their long-running conflict. Direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, which resumed last September after a 20-month standoff, collapsed three weeks later when Israel refused to stop construction in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians will seek to achieve statehood at a UN vote this September. The State of Palestine has so far been recognized by 112 UN member nations but needs to acquire 135 recognitions, a majority two-thirds of the 192 UN members.

Missile defense

Medvedev said Russia and the United States were "wasting time" on missile defense. "So far, I'm not satisfied with the way the U.S. and all NATO countries have reacted to my proposals," he said. Moscow has been concerned by the U.S. reluctance to provide legally binding guarantees that its European missile defense system will not be directed against Russia. "We must receive the guarantees that it is not directed at us. So far, no such guarantees have been given," Medvedev said. Medvedev warned last Wednesday that Russia would have to build up its nuclear capability if NATO and the United States failed to reach an agreement with Moscow on European missile defense cooperation. Moscow has warned it might pull out of the new START Treaty.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20110527/164275804.html

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