FREE GEOPOLITICAL NEWSLETTER

georgia  

For current reports go to EASY FINDER

GEORGIA



 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 3,937 3,324 3,100 126
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 830 650 590 145
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Georgia

 



Update No: 330 - (30/06/08)

Running feud with Russia
The Caucasus is a volatile, unruly place right now. The Russians have quelled the secessionist rebels in Chechnya by the oldest imperial strategy in history, 'divide and rule,' having a cooperative partner in Chechen President Kadyrov.

But this tactic is having dangerous consequences in Georgia. War is a distinct possibility.

It is locked in a dispute with Russia over its NATO ambitions and Moscow's support for the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Tbilisi's Western allies have taken its side in the row.

Strategic Caucasus state
Abkhazia is recognized as part of Georgia, but it is run by separatists with support from Moscow. Friction between the ex-Soviet neighbours over the region has alarmed Western states worried about a conflagration near a vital oil export route.

For Georgia's $10 billion economy lies at the heart of the Caucasus, where the United States and Russia are jostling for influence over the oil and gas transit routes from the Caspian Sea. Georgia is the natural choice here. The key is that a BP-led pipeline pumps about 1 million barrels a day of Caspian Sea crude through Georgia to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

Partition solution denied, but could be extant
Russia and Georgia on June 27 denied a newspaper report that they were discussing a plan to resolve their conflict over the breakaway Abkhazia region by splitting it into two spheres of influence. Nevertheless, there is something circumstantially persuasive about the rumoured plan. It could be the one thing to avoid war. It would be utterly appropriate for those involved in very delicate negotiations to deny their existence, while in progress.

Russia's Kommersant newspaper said on June 27 that Georgia was offering to accept the separatists' de facto control and the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the northern part of Abkhazia, including the capital, Sukhumi. In exchange, Tbilisi wanted Russian peacekeepers to withdraw from the Gali and Ochamchira districts in the south of Abkhazia and for ethnic Georgians -- who used to be in a majority in the two districts -- to be allowed to return, the newspaper said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later said it was "absolutely untrue" that discussions on such a proposal were underway, Russian news agencies reported.

In Tbilisi, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said the newspaper report was untrue. "We are not going to give up anything to anyone," he said at a news briefing. "We have peaceful plans which envisage creating a free economic zone in Gali and Ochamchira and are at the initial stage." Saakashvili has proposed a peace deal under which Tbilisi would retain sovereignty over the region, but the Abkhaz would enjoy a large degree of autonomy.

Saakashvili to the fore
Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated lawyer, swept to power in the peaceful 2003 "Rose" revolution. He promised market reforms and to re-orient his country towards Europe and the United States. 

But the democratic credentials of the 40-year-old leader were tarnished when he sent riot troops to crush protests last November. He won a snap January presidential election which critics said was rigged. His party, United National movement has just won parliamentary elections, held on May 21, but with the same accusations of rigging being made. 

This time they may be false. As the nation is under threat from Russia, it is a natural time to rally behind the government of the day. 

The alarums of war
The Caucasus is a turbulent place, with a simmering potential for conflict that could become explosive at any moment. One just has to think of Chechnya, the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan (legally so) and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia (again legally so).

In the latter case the boiling point is almost at hand, so it would seem. Russia`s deployment of extra troops in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia has brought the prospect of war "very close", a Georgian minister said on May 6.

Separately, in comments certain to fan rising tension between Moscow and Tbilisi, the "foreign minister" of the breakaway Black Sea region was quoted as saying it was ready to hand over military control to Russia.

"We literally have to avert war," Temur Iakobashvili, a Georgian State Minister, told reporters in Brussels. Asked how close to such a war the situation was, he replied: "Very close, because we know the Russians very well."

"We know what the signals are when you see propaganda waged against Georgia. We see Russian troops entering our territories on the basis of false information," he said.

Georgia pulls out of missile defense treaty with Russia

Tbilisi is not exactly helping matters by withdrawing from the Missile Defense Treaty of Russia and Georgia, which it did on May 6. 

"The unilateral decision of Georgia to pull out of the missile defense treaty with Russia manifests its lack of will to peacefully settle the conflicts with unrecognized republics," said the RF Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "I cannot comment on actions of Georgia on each occasion. I think these actions show a line and, unfortunately, the line is undermining all previous agreements on the settlement of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's conflicts," Lavrov said. "It will be very bad for the region," Lavrov pointed out.

Russia and Georgia sealed the Missile Defense Treaty on April 19, 1995. So far, the members of the united missile-defense system of the CIS have been Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

For once it is possible to see the Russian point of view. As Churchill said: " ' Jaw-jaw' is always better than 'war-war'. " Curiously enough it was he himself who pointed out that this is not always true; he was opposed to the Munich Pact of 1938 and thought war at that juncture superior to war a year later. There are exceptions to all rules.

But in the Georgian-Russian case, war would be a re-run of the tragic conflicts of the early 1990s. EU diplomacy is urgently needed to avoid it.

« Top

« Back

 


 
Published by 
Newnations (a not-for-profit company)
PO Box 12 Monmouth 
United Kingdom NP25 3UW 
Fax: UK +44 (0)1600 890774
enquiries@newnations.com