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Vague prospects replace concrete commitments

By Messenger staff
Monday, November 17
The EU – Russia summit left all sides satisfied. The French President was happy – the EU was successful in terms of Russia withdrawing from the buffer zones in Georgia; Medvedev was happy – Moscow retained its positions in the occupied territories of the neighbouring country. Saakashvili also demonstrated his happiness, highlighting unprecedented support from the EU.

But many in Georgia are not that optimistic. The actual attitude of the EU towards Georgia could be summed up in the words of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who labelled the situation concerning Georgia as “unclear.”

After the full scale attack by Russia and Georgia’s loss of its territories, our leaders hoped that the EU would force the Kremlin to retreat and give up its conquered lands. But reality is always more potent than illusion. It looks as if the EU has exhausted its potential to help Georgia. Russia offers too many temptations - natural gas, oil, the prospect of other benefits – to be opposed in a meaningful way. It is a rich country with huge natural resources, and EU nations sustain their economies by consuming huge amounts of these resources it is a big market also. .

The choice before the EU was: defend its own democratic principles, by saying no to Russia until it fulfilled its commitments, or cooperate with Russia, with all the material benefits it offers, believing there will someday be a chance to move the monster in a civilized direction. Pragmatism prevailed, or at least a superficial pragmatism. “The EU realizes that it is not worth sacrificing its long term interests, which include cooperation with Russia, for the sake of Georgia,” thinks political analyst Archil Gegeshidze. The EU however may well live to regret what is has bought for itself, and the world, by taking the line of least resistance.

An indication of the inadequacy of the EU came when Medvedev shamelessly declared that he recognizes the territorial integrity of Georgia while Russia occupies 22% of its territory and has established there two “independent” states which only Russia and Nicaragua recognize. Our European friends politely smiled and nodded, stating that their 6-point plan had been almost entirely fulfilled. Of course Georgia should be grateful that the EU’s prompt efforts stopped the bloodshed and preserved the whole country from Russian invasion. But there is one fundamental principle everyone should remember: the EU and the whole civilized world is supposed to be defending not only Georgia but the ESTABLISHED, DEMOCRATIC WORLD ORDER, WHICH IS BEING UNDERMINED BY RUSSIA.

Russia’s “excellent diplomacy” has brought results. Its version is that Georgia, inspired by the US, started a war against its own territory, while “peacekeeper” Moscow defended the Ossetian separatists. The Kremlin has seeded a certain tension between the US and EU over this issue, which has resulted in neither being as enthusiastic in supporting Georgia as Georgians expected. Added to this is the almost-certain refusal of NATO to grant Georgia its long-sought MAP next month. All this has furthermore created a mood of uncertainty in the Georgian population, which feels more and more strongly that Moscow will not be forced into isolation as hoped and that the EU is now speaking a different language to the one it used during the August events.

The promised EU aid will eventually flow into the country. But is this enough to ensure Georgia’s recovery from its loss of territory? Or is it a form of “compensation,” designed to draw a line under the issue and hope it goes away?

The Georgian authorities continue to promise a bright future on the basis of little. However opposition moves are also chaotic and unconvincing. Is there a third option? Quo Vadis?