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Expectations for Clinton

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, June 5
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will be in Georgia this week, but it is naive to think that Clinton has nothing else to do but consider Georgia and its problems. Yet you hear people - politicians, activists, even ordinary citizens - say that Clinton's visit will make a difference. Some see her as supporting the current administration, while others think she is here for the opposition.

It should be realized that Clinton is traveling throughout the South Caucasus, and not to Georgia alone, so her visit should be understood in a regional context. Any statement made by her in Georgia will be heard and should be understood in other countries, just as what is said in Armenia or Azerbaijan should be heard and understood in Georgia. Some analysts have connected this tour with the Iran issue, which is still rather sensitive. Clinton is meeting with representatives of Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan in case of any developments.

The visit is also targeted at further strengthening the American position in the region. Of course, any country has its own interest and presumably Clinton wants to coordinate the American interest to the local interest as well. She may also be interested in gauging Turkey's position vis-a-vis Russia and Syria, or with Israel.

As for the South Caucasus, the most intriguing situation is in Nagorno-Karabakh, where there is a renewed threat of possible military confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The conflict is frozen at the moment but situation is regularly aggravated by military rhetoric on both sides.

Analysts think that in Armenia, Clinton will once again declare US support for the development of democratic institutions. In Azerbaijan, she will probably thank that country for its role in combating terrorism. In Georgia, she will presumably speak on territorial integrity and once again ask Russia to respect Georgia’s sovereignty. Of course, Moscow will not listen, but this could be understood as a preventive measure so that Kremlin will not repeat its aggression again. Secretary Clinton will most likely also touch on the issue of Georgia’s forthcoming elections and declare US support for transparent and fair elections.

Both the administration and opposition parties will interpret Clinton's visit to suit their needs, and find secret hints of support in her speeches

One thing is certain - the West, and the US specifically, are concerned about the elections. If there is proof of manipulation, protest and instability could follow, damaging not only Georgia itself but its reputation around the world. That might give Russia the opportunity it needs to take advantage of the situation.