Ever since RF and Georgia came to their existence, the relations in between them have been tense and complicated. The analysis of the relations in the sphere of foreign policy, security problems and economy shows that the scale of problems can be systemized and classified into several groups.
1. The questions of foreign policy and integration into supranational structures
In the sphere of foreign relations, the most important is the question of the foreign-political orientation of Georgia mainly after the Rose revolution and after the start of Mikhail Saakashvili era. We have to mention that already during the Eduard Shevarnadze administration the Russian-Georgian relationship was affected by antipathy related to security, political and economic problems (let us mention for instance the matter of separatist regions and the accusations concerning their support by RF, the question of the protection of the borders, the visa system, or the construction of the Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan pipeline). Because of this, at first the change of the regime in Georgia was perceived neutrally, sometimes even positively by RF. In 2004 in the first meeting of RF and Georgian leaders Moscow de facto accepted Saakashvili`s mandate as lawful. In addition to other results of the meeting, Moscow stopped supporting the leaders of the controversial area of Ajaria. By speaking of currently problematic relations as a result of foreign-political orientation of Georgia we mean the intention of developing positive relations with the USA and NATO. Georgia becomes a place of a conflict of interests between RF and the USA, or, widely speaking, the CIS and NATO.
a) The sphere of the Russian interest in Georgia and problems of the Georgia CIS membership
On the side of RF there are several reasons that lead to activities aiming to retain their influence in Georgia. Firstly, Georgia was under the direct influence and control of Russia and the USSR for approximately 200 years. During this time Georgia has simply become a part of the area under the Russian influence on the geopolitical map, and not only in the awareness of the RF citizens. The proof of it is the majority of the RF citizens in separatist, originally autonomous Georgian regions. Despite the fact that citizenship is recognized according to non-ethnic criteria, the interest of the Abkhazians in issuing Russian passports shows how tightly those former soviet republics are interconnected. In the document regarding its candidacy for the UN Security Council, the Slovak Republic in an outline position to the problem described the strategy of the Russian authorities as politically incorrect.
In the Soviet era there were several military bases established in the Georgian territory. Their displacement, as we shall show later on, influences mutual relation of RF and Georgia in a crucial way. Another problem is the protection of the borders. RF repeatedly accused Georgia of not being able to protect e. g. the Panki Valley from the Chechen rebels.
Nowadays, Georgia is formally a CIS member, despite the fact that it often ignores the activities and it has threatened to part with the coalition. Georgia, as a state that did not sign the initial CIS treaty in October 1991, bore the consequences of this step. The disputable RF military bases in the Georgian territory are – among other matters – a result of the fact, that Georgia did not take part in the conventions concerning the displacement of the military bases that were accepted within this international organization. It joined CIS in 1993 and hoped for the RF`s full support in the matter of territorial reintegration.
In 1994, the collective forces of CIS were sent to the zone of Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, based on the truce convention from the same year. The convention stopped the attempt of Georgia to annex its separatist region. The peacemaking forces in the area of South Ossetia are under the terms of contingent consisting of Russian, Georgian and North Ossetian (in fact Russian) battalion on the basis of a mandate arising from the Dagomys Declaration (1992). In the matter of the placement of the NATO units in the area, the Georgian authorities one-sidedly call for withdrawal of the peacemaking forces under the mandate of CIS. Possible presence of NATO in the area is another motivation for the maintenance of the Russian influence in the area. We will discuss the details in relevant paragraphs.
For now we shall only mention the fact that parting with CIS can result in the loss of the legislative and political basis for the convention concerning the withdrawal of the peacemaking forces in the sphere of CIS. Other possible problems relate to conventions on CIS basis concerning the establishment of the borders (as for Georgia, the borders with RF, Armenia and Azerbaijan), acknowledgment of education, visa system etc. As for dispensing with visa relation, since 2000 it does not include crossing the borders with RF by Georgian citizens. Nevertheless, parting with CIS could complicate transit of Georgian citizens working in RF through other post-soviet states, although they annually bring into their homeland approx. 1.5 billion USD, which they earn in the Russian Federation.
Parting with CIS would result in several economic problems that were pointed out by the Georgian State Minister for Economic Reforms Kakha Bendukidze, in whose opinion there is no need to hurry in the matter of parting with CIS. Present economic indicators confirm his point of view. The trade with CIS fell from 64.6% of the international trade in 1996 to 41.3% in 2000, and increased again to 48.4% in 2003. In 2004 the trade with CIS formed 45% (RF, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, with whom Georgia has a system of free trade), followed by Turkey (20%) and the EU, mainly Germany (18%). In 2005, the order of the trading partners of Georgia was following: RF, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Germany, the USA, Turkmenistan, Bulgaria, France, Great Britain, where the CIS part was 42%, the EU part 33% and the rest 25%. In the first quarter of 2006, Georgian truck increased – in comparison to analogical period in 2005 – by 42.8%, the truck with CIS increased by 51.2%. The truck with CIS in those periods increased from 39% to 41.3%. Negative balance related to CIS declined from 41.7% to 34.7% in said period.
In the time of dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Georgian-Russian truck reached a volume of 5.5 billion USD. In 2002 it declined to 160 million, and it formed 0.5% of foreign trade of RF. In the years 1991 – 2002 the truck with Belarus went down to half, with Kazakhstan to a quarter, with Ukraine 5.5 times, with Moldova 10 times, and with Georgia 34.4 times. In 2003, as a result of the Russian companies entering the Georgian market, the trade between Georgia and Russia increased to 225.4 million USD, i.e. by 23.7%. Yet the participation of RF in Georgian foreign trade diminished by 1.9%, from 16.9% to 15%. In 2004 their mutual trade grew by 42% and reached 336 million. The Russian export increased by 50.2% and reached 229.6 million USD; the import grew by 27.1% and reached 107 million. In the first quarter of the year 19.3% of the foreign trade was with Russia, and that is 172 million USD.
Current economic and political problems (economic sanctions, transport and banking embargoes, decrease of the mutual trade in the third and the fourth quarters of 2006) could be at least partly solved by the entrance of RF into WTO, which is one of the priorities of the Putin Administration. The Americans recently expressed their support to the plan, and the approval of Georgia was settled already in 2004. If Georgia went against, it could cause problems in form of continuous embargoes. If RF joined WTO, the problems of the attitude related to the borders, of the embargo on agricultural production, wines and mineral water, or the blockade of banking and transport connections as a reaction to arresting the alleged Russian spies, could be solved via international arbitration according to international norms that RF would commit to follow. Thus by blocking the Russian integration Georgia would go against itself.
Kakha Bendukidze`s statement gives a true picture of the present situation of the bilateral relations, meaning the situation until the end of September 2006: “RF and Georgia have good economic and bad political relations. It can result either in an improvement of the political relations, or a deterioration of the economic relations.” Another possibility, even though it is a long-term one, is a gradual loss of the interconnection of economic and political relations. However, this trend is currently imperceptible. From the economic point of view, until recently the two countries were experiencing a renaissance of their economic relations, which began in 2003. But if the current escalation of political tension continues, we can expect that the situation will be reflected in economic and trade relations as well.
The said trend has become much more noticeable since RF, as a response to arresting four Russian citizens suspected of espionage, imposed a blockage upon banking operations and air, road and sea transport. This step will have a negative effect on mutual political and economic relations as well as on national economy in Georgia. Another blow to Georgian economy would be the apprised tightening of the visa system and expulsion of the people of Georgian nationality from RF. The Georgians working in RF bring into their country annually 1.5 – 3 billion USD. It all indicates that in the near future the Russian-Georgian trade relations are going to get closer to the political ones. Meanwhile it is beyond any doubt that the said trend will affect Georgian as well as Russian economy.
b) The USA sphere of interest and problems of the integration of Georgia into NATO
Let us mention first that during the Rose revolution was the Saakashvili`s opposition strongly supported by the USA. It was a case of expected activities of the USA in a sphere that is exceptionally interesting in a military way because of close proximity of Iran and RF, and economically because of the Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan oil pipeline. Despite the fact that Washington and Tbilisi repeatedly denied this, there is some distress on the side of the Russians that the USA plans to place its navy bases in the Black Sea. Georgia pushes for the fastest possible entrance into NATO, which – at his recent meeting with Mikhail Saakashvili – George Bush has not ruled out. However, the condition of acceptance Georgia into NATO is solving the territorial conflicts, which cannot be expected in the near future.
Owing to this fact, Saakashvili and his administration have another scenario: displacement of the CIS peacemaking forces from the Georgian territory and their replacement by the NATO forces. There is a hitch in the plan, though; the NATO peacekeeping forces or OSCE can be placed only with the approval of all the participating sides, and the Abkhazian and South Ossetian representatives expressed their strong disagreement already in advance. Another problem is the displacement of the CIS peacemaking forces as such; they have been in the area on the basis of the CIS mandate since 1994. We will be dealing with this problem in a separate part.
The USA itself does not want to get involved in the Georgian-Russian conflicts concerning the military bases and the presence of the army; it does not want to risk a conflict with Moscow. The USA officially (we do not take into consideration individual speeches of American representatives) became involved in the conflict of financing of the displacement of the Russian bases only by offering to cover the expenses, in case that the two sides agree on the terms and the schedule of the displacement. It is likely that Washington communicated to Tbilisi their full support, but that Tbilisi has to solve the conflicts with Moscow themselves. Several analysts think that also the meeting of the presidents of RF and Georgia in June 2006 (prior to meeting of Saakashvili and Bush), that was initiated from Tbilisi, was in fact intermediated by the Americans. Another meeting of the presidents, which was supposed to take place in the end of June within informal summit of CIS, did not take place, allegedly due to lack of time of the Russian representative.
Despite the fact that Washington settles the Russian-Georgian conflicts with moderation, Tbilisi can rely on strong financial support from the West. Even though in recent years the USA systematically reduces the support for the former USSR countries, Georgia does not have to be afraid that their income will be radically cut down. Financial help for Georgia is provided mainly by the USA and EU. European help has been actualized since 1992, when a TACIS National Action Plan was put into effect. In the period between 1992 and 2003 the EU through a range of instruments (ECHO Humanitarian Assistance, FEOGA, TACIS, CFSP, EIDHR, RRM, Food Security Programme, Exceptional Financial Assistance, Exceptional Humanitarian Aid, Aid against Affects of Russian Crisis) provided 369.43 million EUR. The greatest part of the amount was ECHO Humanitarian Assistance (92.25 million), TACIS (84 million), and Food Security Programme (59.25 million). The total amount did no include the help provided through TACIS regional programmes and the help provided by the EU members. The American help in the period of 1992 – 2005 was (according to the USA Ministry of Foreign Affairs) 1 billion 611.17 million USD through budget programme Independent States of Former USSR Support. In 2005 126.87 million was set aside from the national budget. For 2006 the amount 86.01 million was passed. Besides that, 300 million USD from the Millennium Challenges programme are planned to be used in Georgia in 2006 – 2010. The World Bank provided Georgia with the first part of the soft loan for the Poverty Reduction Programme. From this amount Georgia will draw 143 million USD in the period of 2006 – 2009.
When it comes to Georgia`s orientation on the USA, analysts talk about signals that Saakashvili keeps a foot in both camps or, better to say, he is preparing for the change of the power and the succession of the Democratic Party. Nevertheless the basic orientation on the USA is beyond any doubt and it is unlikely that it might change in the next future. From relevant opposition forces only the Liberal Party fulfills the opposing policy in the sense of foreign policy orientation of Georgia. The orientation of the rest (Democratic Front, Rightist Opposition and the party of ex-secretary Salome Zurabishvili) is consistent with Saakashvili; the critique lies in accusations of betraying the ideals of the Rose revolution.
Despite that we can more than doubt the early entering NATO. In all likelihood Georgia will not settle the territorial conflicts, and with the moderate attitude of the USA and the RF`s attitude of refusal neither the peacemaking forces of NATO will be placed in the area. There is a possibility of placement of the US military bases with the approval of Tbilisi, but only after the displacement of the Russian bases, which was agreed to take place (despite other ultimatums from Georgia) until 2008.
The development of bilateral cooperation of the Georgian authorities and NATO is beyond any doubt and it has legislative and practical foundation. In the Prague summit in November 2002 individual action plans were passed concerning partnership IPAP, designated for the countries that want to cooperate intensely with NATO. In 2004 Georgia became the first country; the interest in the matter was shown by Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan as well. Moreover, NATO sent to Georgia more than a hundred military specialists, and with its help more than 300 old anti-aircraft missiles were disposed of in Georgia, financed from the Partnership for Peace free fund.
2. Security problems inflicting the Russian-Georgian relations
As follows from above, the problems of Russian-Georgian relations are to great extent formed by military and security issues, either in the relation to the membership in international security blocs (see above), or in connection to the military bases in Georgian territory, to securing the protection of the borders, or to territorial conflicts and the presence of the peacemaking forces in the country.
a) The problem of displacement of Russian military bases from the Georgian territory
At present, there are two Russian military bases in Georgia – in Akhalkalaki and Batumi. Until September 2006, both of them were moved gradually from the Georgian territory to Armenia and RF. Russian bases in the Georgian territory are not a result of a convention between two independent states; they are a relic of the Soviet era. As we have mentioned before, one of the reasons leading to problems with their displacement at that time was that Georgia did not enter CIS, which resulted in the fact that the conventions concerning the withdrawal of the soviet army were not signed. Another reason is that RF is interested in military control of this strategically important area, and their interest meets the resistance of Georgian representatives. In 1995 RF and Georgia signed an agreement according to which Russian military bases will stay in Georgia territory for next 25 years, i.e. until 2020. In 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul a decision was made that RF will displace two bases from Vazan and Guduama. Three days after the meeting of the leaders of both countries in 2004 Georgia began a series of ultimatums, in order that Moscow withdraws the bases in Akhalkalaki and Batumi, which was not directly discussed in Istanbul. The parties were called upon to find the agreement concerning the withdrawal themselves. Russian army from the bases in Vazan and Gudama has already been withdrawn, the bases are presently used for Georgian objectives: the one in Vazan is used for Georgian military drill lead by British instructors, the base in Gudauma (whose release was accompanied by the Abkhazian protests) is used by CIS peacemaking forces.
Displacement of troops from the rest of the bases was a subject to fierce discussion: Georgia called their existence in their territory illegal, as there are no bilateral conventions concerning the terms of their operation behind the borders of RF. Russian experts pointed out that the OBSE summit in Istanbul dealt with displacement of the bases and called on both parties to a discussion, which indirectly legalized them and admitted certain legal substance. Georgia demanded their displacement within two weeks; Russian Defence Secretary required 10 – 11 years, later he offered a compromise of 5 – 6 years. In May 2005 Defence Secretaries Lavrov and Zurabishvili signed a declaration where the deadline of the displacement is until 2008. Lavrov received critique from several sides; security experts pointed out the negative example of a precipitous displacement of the bases in GDR, the Russian MPs criticized the fact that the Ministry left out the Parliament and overstepped their powers. On the other hand Saakashvili`s team presented the convention as a triumphant victory of Georgia, which has some previous parallels in the relations of RF and Georgia; let us mention e. g. displacement of the bases in Vazan and Gudauma or the political withdrawal of RF from Ajaria.
According to the ministry convention, RF has withdrawn from Georgia the 142nd service tank institution, the radio station in Kajori, the military polygon Gonio and a number of other objects. The withdrawal of armoured technology began in Batumi and in May 2006 in Alkhalaki. Until the arrest of the alleged Russian spies, most of the objects were directed to the bases in Armenia which is a key alley of RF in Caucasus. On the other hand, Georgia does not keep what they agreed on in the ministry convention, i.e. to provide Russian troops with visa in order to enable the rotation at the bases in the withdrawal regime. More than a thousand of troops waiting for the realization of the rotation stay behind the borders, which with the total number of the troops being 4000 is not at all insignificant. According to the delegation of the State Duma of RF, besides the displacement of the troops there are significant problems with the infrastructure, supplying and movement of people in given regions.
Another problem is financing of the displacement. In 2005 Georgia agreed to co-finance, but at the same time demanded 300 – 400 million USD for letting the land under the military bases for the entire time of their existence in Georgian territory. However, the payments for the use of the land, as well as the existence of the bases, are not regulated by any conventions whatsoever. Therefore it is unlikely for RF to pay the amount. As we have mentioned before, the USA offered to cover the expenses connected with the displacement of the bases and calculated them at 6.5 million USD. Despite the fact that Russian calculations of the expenses are sometimes much higher, we assume that RF will pay the displacement from its own sources. Various economic problems related to displacement of the bases will have a negative effect on Georgia. The majority of the population near the bases is employed there. The removal of the bases can result in significant increase of unemployment, and indirectly also in escalation of tension and expansion of separatist trends in the region.
b) The problems of conflicting regions and the displacement of peacemaking forces of CIS
The problems of separatist regions go back to the Soviet era, before the establishment of Georgia as an independent state. In the period of 1992 – 1994 Georgia`s attempt to annex Abkhazia ended in defeat and signing peace agreements that resulted in the operation of the peacemaking forces of CIS within its territory. As we have mentioned, in July 1994 the CIS collective forces were put into the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone on the basis of the truce agreement adopted in May 1994. In South Ossetian region the peacemaking forces operate under the terms of a contingent consisting of Russian, Georgian and North Ossetian (in fact Russian) battalions, based on the Dagomys Declaration from 1992. There are up to 2000 troops operating in Abkhazia and 500 troops in South Ossetia. The rest of the battalions in South Ossetian peacemaking forces consist of the same number of 500 troops.
The peacemaking forces of CIS operating in Georgia managed to stabilize the situation in the area and achieved the cease-fire, which was several times positively evaluated by the UN and OBSE. At the same time the mission enables these organizations to carry out their tasks in the separatist, originally autonomous republics. UNOMIG mission established by the resolution SC UN 858 (1993) operates in the country. Its main task is to prevent the recurring break out of armed conflicts between Georgia and the internationally disallowed Abkhazian Republic. In December 1996, based on the resolution SC UN 1077 (1996) the Human Rights Office was established under the terms of UNOMIG mission. The Office personnel are built in cooperation with the Office of OBSE Secretary General for human rights.
Georgia blames the peace contingent for alleged support of separatist rebels. Before his deposing, Eduard Shevarnadze raised some excitement with the statement that 80% of Abkhazian rebels are RF citizens. Yet it is indisputable that Russian leadership keeps their relations to Abkhazian and South Ossetian leaders above standard, but we have to say that the forces in the area are for peacemaking, and not for political purpose. Their task is not to provide political or military support to one of the parties, but to maintain the peace in the area and prevent possible escalation of violence. However, there is significant resistance of Georgian authorities against the fact that the Ministry of Defence and the RF army operating as peacemakers in the region supported the separatist rebels by weapon supplies.
The behaviour of Tbilisi can be characterized in a sense as distraction from their inability (or a lack of will) to solve the problem of the separatist regions according to the recommendations of the EU Parliamentary Meeting and the European Commission (2003, 2005) and which recommends speedy creation of essential legal, political and administrative conditions for the solution of the territorial problems. Blaming RF for being the cause of Georgian problems in this context acquires very convincing interpretation. As long as the Constitution of the Georgian Republic does not recognize autonomy of South Ossetia, we can hardly expect the mood in the region to calm down. The optimal scenario could be a reformation of the constitutional law in Georgia accompanied by its federalization.
More than once have been Georgian representatives authors of rather uncivil statements that were directed mainly at RF, but also at the UN (in November 2005) and at CIS. For instance, a former Secretary of the Conflict Regulation Issues and co-president of the Mixed Control Commission (MCC) Georgi Khaindrava, who in one of his speeches called RF a fascist state. The same Secretary was in the forefront of the ostentatious departure of the Georgian delegation from bilateral negotiations of RF and Georgia in Ljubljana concerning the conflict solving. Rather moderate was his opinion that act of detaining a diplomatic vehicle carrying an envoy and a co-president of MCC Yuri Popov, and a second in command of Russian army and an MCC member Valeri Yavnevic, was a violation of the Vienna Conventions. It is also positive that Popov and Khaindrava agreed that the resolution of the Georgian Parliament (which we will discuss in next paragraph) must not influence the operation of MCC. For his modest attitude Khaindrava was dismissed which strengthened the position of a Secretary of Defence and a main proponent of force solving of conflicts Irakli Okruashvili.
The resolution we mentioned was accepted in July 2006 under the name ‘About Peacemaking Operations in Conflicting Zones in Georgia’. In it, the “so-called peacemakers” are accused of the annexation of Georgian territory and are put into opposition to “peaceable policy” of Georgia. They bid Georgian authorities to put an end to “so-called passing peacemaking operations in Abkhazia and former autonomous area of South Ossetia” and to “lead the armed forces of the RF out of the Georgian territory”. Similar resolutions were already passed by the Georgian Paliament in February 2006 and in October 2005.
We have to point out that the said resolution is not supported by the international law; the armed forces in the Georgian territory are under the mandate of CIS. Of course, there is a clear domination of the RF in CIS, thus Georgia had little chance to prevent the resolution. However, it is a forfeit for the entrance in the organization, where the decisions are made at a collective level. Moreover, the peacemaking forces in Abkhazia operate under the mandate of the UN, and in South Ossetia with the support of OSCE. A unilateral end of their mandate is not possible; such resolutions are passed in the organization that dispatched them, i.e. CIS. If the resolution was executed, most likely it would mean going back to the era of violence in the years 1992 – 1994 and destabilization in the whole region. Cooperation of the Chechen rebels in Georgia and in RF was confirmed also by the Chechen president Aslam Kadyrov.
Their cooperation was also behind the Russian accusations at the end of 2004 and at the beginning of 2005, that two groups (together 250 Chechen terrorists) were hiding in the strait of Pankisi. The Pankisi population consists – besides the Georgians – also of the Kists, an ethnic group close to the Chechens. These are loyal to Georgia and do not demand independence. At the end of 1999 a few thousand refugees from Chechenia took shelter in the valley. Already in 2000 Russia repeatedly accused Georgia that Chechen terrorists are hiding in Pankisi. Tbilisi eventually admitted that together with the Chechen refugees a certain number of Chechen rebels came into the country, but they denied the existence of the drill camps. RF continued to claim that Tbilisi leaves the Chechen rebels free to act. The leader of the Chechen separatists Aslan Maskhadov had his legation right next to Tbilisi Home Office. The roads from Georgia to Chechenia served for the transport of Islamic extremists to RF. After the situation has sharpened when both states took armed actions in Abkhazia and after the accusations of supporting international terrorism, in the beginning of October in Kishinov both parties agreed on joint control of the Georgian-Chechen borders as a reaction to the US intervention.
With respect to its extent, the operation in the Kodori Valley is likely to have relatively positive results. At the same time it is rather strongly supported by the Georgian public, who present their negative attitude towards the military group of Emzar Kviciani. The former governor of the Svakhet region is at present a leader of a radical rebel group, which demands independence and urges to resist the Georgian authorities. The Svans settled in the area at the end of 19th century after a considerable part of the Abkhazians left because of the Caucasian war. The Kodori Valley divides Abkhazia in two parts and leads to the sea. According to the convention from 14th May 1994 Georgia is not allowed to place their army in this area. After Georgia sent their troops there at the end of June, the UN, RF and the Abkhazian authorities observed that it was a violation of said convention concerning the cease-fire. The main goal – to arrest Emzar Kviciani – has not been achieved. Accusations of RF followed, that the rebel leader was hiding in their territory and was supported by Moscow. RF denied this information and claimed that they consider Kviciani to be an unacceptable terrorist who does not have their support. A part of Georgian armed forces still remains in the area.
If the conflict developed, the chance of success would diminish by geometric progression in South Ossetia, let alone much stronger Abkhazia where once the Georgian army has already lost. The Georgian army of 21,000 at present significantly grows; in the near future it should reach 26,000 troops. In Tbilisi a resolution to actively recruit young troops was passed; furthermore, their wages are supposed to be rather handsome in comparison to the average – 340 USD per month. Militarization of the Georgian economy, military drill in the proximity of conflicting zones, invitations of military experts from Turkey and the USA and statements of state officials are the reasons why the Abkhazian authorities are afraid of possible force solving of the conflict. Moreover, 60 kilometres from the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict area, in Senaki, a Georgian military base has been established. On the other hand RF also increases military activities in the area which is made evident by the military drill and the movement of the Russian army to the area of the borders.
Taking into consideration the military strength of RF, entering the war with Russia would be a suicidal act of Georgia as in this respect it can hardly be equal. Even the present number of the troops in the area without any reinforcement would be a hard nut to crack for the Georgian army. At the same time we have to consider, at which side the separatist military and semi-military groups would fight (in this connection we would like to mention the recent referendum on the independence of South Ossetia). Owing to these facts a military conflict in the area is unlikely. Considering that stability in Caucasus is one of the key interests of the USA and the NATO, and because the USA are exhausted by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the last thing they want is a military conflict intervening with the Russian sphere of interests, the hope of Saakashvili`s team for western military help seems to be no less than naïve.
So as to achieve the stabilization and positive regulation Georgia should carry out a constitutional law reformation in which autonomy of the conflicting regions and a federatively configuration of the republic would be guaranteed. If the situation requires the peacemaking forces, their presence will be essential for maintaining the peace in the area. As we have mentioned, a change of foreign-political orientation of Georgia in the current state of affairs seems to be unlikely.
Naturally, in case of development of positive relations with Moscow for Georgia there are no guarantees that RF will support the restoration of Georgia`s territorial integrity. In 1993 the joining of CIS in fact meant strengthening the Russian political influence in the area with no results in reinforcement of the territorial integrity. However it is logical that Russian support of the separatist regions is inversely related to the willingness of the Georgian authorities to develop constructive cooperation. Supporting the rebels is only means of securing the influence of RF in the area.
As Eduard Shevarnadze put it, the problems of separatist regions can be solved only in close cooperation with Moscow. Therefore we can evaluate the steps requiring displacement of the CIS peacemaking forces as steps that do not contribute to the improvement of the situation. Necessity of cooperation with RF was emphasized also by the EU in July 2006 through presiding Finland. One of the remaining possibilities is the addition of the UN peacemaking forces in the contingent of the CIS collective forces. The UN and EU have expressed their willingness to support and to carry out the step. The Russian Federation is likely to agree with the scenario under the condition that the existing structures of the peacemaking forces will be preserved.
The Georgian authorities equally insist on the improvement of the relations with RF; however the declared willingness to cooperate has to become a reality and must not be degraded by emotive and offensive statements.
Situation could become complicated if the countries of the international community (mainly the USA and Great Britain) accepted the independence of Kosovo against the will of Serbia. In that case a precedent in international-legal relations would arise, according to which Moscow would be able to accept the independence of until now unaccepted separatist republics. The opinions of the Russian president confirm that this possibility is far from being unreal.
Gradual regulation of the frozen conflicts is possible only through warming of the bilateral relation of RF and Georgia. In relation to this, the stabilization of the Russian-Azerbaijan relations often stands as a perfect example. The Azerbaijan example lies in the fact that problematic issues became overshadowed by other practical problems that had to be solved in mutual relation. In case of Russian-Georgian relation we can speak of the protection of the borders (Chechnya, Dagestan, the mountain areas of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkesia), of the establishment of joint anti-terrorist cetres, of general agreement that has not been made and of economic matters, in fact of an economic revival agreement.