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Tagliavini Commission’s work underway

By Messenger Staff
Friday, June 5
The EU Commission led by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini is in Tbilisi. The Commission has been convened to discover the cause of the Russian-Georgian war last August. Its results should be known in July. The most important answer its report will give will be who provoked the war.

Russia and its puppet regimes in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali point their fingers at Georgia. Their version is that the Georgian armed forces “attacked sleeping Tskhinvali”, conducting a genocide of Ossetians, and thus obliging Russia to intervene and implement peace by force. In this view Georgia is an aggressor and Russia a peacekeeper which was therefore correct to invade Georgia, occupy its territories, declare and recognise them as ‘independent states’ and start to build several military bases there, filling them with arms and soldiers. This is the Russian ‘truth’. The Kremlin is demanding from the international community that it believes the unbelievable, accepts Russian rule in the region and surrenders to Moscow’s rules of the game. It was once stated by the representative of Russia to NATO Dimitri Rogozin that “Russia is always right” and the world should accept this. Moscow’s logic is that the stronger you are, the more right you are.

Here in Georgia a Parliamentary Investigation Commission, chaired by Paata Davitaia, has studied the same questions as the EU one. This stated that Georgian troops never crossed the Russian border, never attacked the Russian armed forces and therefore the war was started by Russia and Georgia could not have avoided it. Of course the conclusions of Georgia’s commission don’t have international significance, but those of the Tagliavini Commission will. It should also present a true picture of what happened. The picture might be unpleasant for both sides but at least it should be a true one.

There is a key issue which should be clearly addressed. When did the war begin? Neither side officially declared war on the other. Did Georgia’s decision to restore constitutional order on its territory provoke hostilities, or was the intensive bombing and shooting campaign against Georgian villages near the administrative borders which the Russian-led separatists had begun several days before? Maybe the war really started in April 2008, when the Russians sent railway troops into Abkhazia who restored the railways which were later used to transport troops and military hardware into Georgia.

We always have the example of the First World War before us. Was this started by the student Gavrilo Princip killing Crown Prince Ferdinand or by any one of a number of other factors or combinations of factors? So the Commission faces serious challenges. Georgian political analysts suggest that most probably the Commission will not take a firm position on the question and not blame anybody. It will simply recount what happened. All we know so far is that Russia is being accused of using disproportionate force during the conflict. This means Russia is not being condemned for using force at all, but for the proportion of this force. Georgian analysts say that attention should be drawn to the use of force in a neighbouring country rather than the extent of this. They say Russia’s use of force in Georgia should be clearly described as illegal, a violation of international norms, as should the recognition of the criminal regimes of the occupied territories as international legal entities.

It will be interesting to see if the Commission reveals the presence of any secret deal between the Russian and Georgian leaderships, which eventually turned into a trap the Georgian administration fell into. The Georgian community looks forward to the Commission’s report as it will touch on issues of vital importance to the country.