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US and Russia agree on talking to puppets

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, July 8
Dialogue between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be restored, US Deputy Secretary of State Philip Gordon said on July 6 in response to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin while once more underlining the US's position on Georgia.

After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Georgia Putin stated that relations between Georgia and its breakaway regions should be restored by the parties concerned, without the involvement of Russia or other states. It now seems this idea fits in with America's.

“It is well known to all that the basic debatable issue in Russian-American relations is Georgia, concretely, the Abkhazia-South Ossetia issue. As for dialogue between the sides, we support the idea and consider that dialogue between the sides should necessarily be restored,” Gordon stated while commenting on Putin’s appeal.

The Georgian authorities, opposition representatives and analysts expressed different views on this question. MP Nugzar Tsiklauri told The Messenger. "The Soviet Union was destroyed because it did not take into account international values and demands. Russia will go the same way if it continues ignoring the international viewpoint. Through Hillary Clinton’s visit America has confirmed its support for us, and its statements supportive of Georgia will gain widespread international support and ensure the non-recognition of the de facto regions. The Georgian Government is absolutely ready to start dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but only after the ceasefire agreement is fulfilled and Russian troops are replaced by international forces. However this will happen very soon, as international organisations are also fighting for this,” Tsiklauri concluded.

Petre Mamradze, co leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia, is less optimistic. He told The Messenger, "When somebody talks about starting dialogue with the de facto regions, he should not forget that this is improbable unless Georgian-Russian relations are regulated. Improvement of relations is unlikely while the present authorities keep making inappropriate statements. One day they say they are ready for collaboration with Russia and the next they criticise the Russian authorities. If the Georgian Government was involved in real negotiations with Russia the opposition attempts to restore these relations through their visits to Moscow would not be effective. The United States upholds Georgian's territorial integrity, however genuine steps to restore this will be taken by Georgians, the US will not involve itself in this process,” Mamradze said.

Manana Nachkebia from the New Rights agreed, "Hillary Clinton’s visit was very important, but it has frequently been said that Georgia should resolve conflict issues without American support. They loudly support our territorial integrity, but real steps to restore it must be made by Georgians," Nachkebia told The Messenger.

Analyst Nika Chitadze doubts that dialogue and problem solving will start without active, as opposed to verbal, international support. "There always has been, and still is, a third side to this dialogue, which is actively preventing it starting. Gordon’s appeal for dialogue to start is unlikely to bear fruit when this dialogue is not supported by such an influential international player as Russia. In the near future this is unlikely as Russia will not let it happen, but it the long term I hope there will be some positive changes,” Chitadze told The Messenger.