In the evening of August 7, in a televised address to the people of South Ossetia, President Mikheil Saakashvili waved an olive branch and announced unilateral truce, making compliments to Russia, confessing his love for the Ossetian people, and asking a chance for peace and dialogue. The population of Tskhinval took a sigh of relief, as regular bombardments made many families with women and children move to safer locations. No one could imagine that a few hours after the president’s peaceful speech, a large-scale military operation would be launched.
Who started the military actions? Disputes over this issue have continued for eight years already, though there is nothing to dispute about. The independent fact-finding mission headed by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, who can hardly be blamed for favoring Russia, gave an exact answer to that question. Even that fully pro-Western mission had to admit that Georgia unleashed the military actions. Only the president and supreme commander could give such an order to the Armed Forces after putting the opponent off his guard in a Genghis Khan style. The first minutes of heavy artillery shelling killed many civilians and peacekeepers.
Brigade General Mamuka Kurashvili reported on sooner successful completion of the blitzkrieg. These are acknowledged facts witnessed by millions. Suffice it to say that Sergey Ivanov called the United National Movement as talented students of Goebbels.
After a while, Mamuka Kurashvili said his interviews were inadequate due to his contusion, while Saakashvili became popular in the world by chewing his tie and “running for his life” scared by the noise that seemed to be a Russian airplane. Little can be expected from the contused people.
When the Georgian Dream mobilized resources to overthrow the dictatorship of Saakashvili’s United National Movement, one of its trump cards was the accusation of provoking the bloody affair in August 2008. Saakashvili engaged Russia and Georgia into that bloody conflict. It was clear that Russia could not ignore deaths of its peacekeepers and the threat to lives of the civilians in South Ossetia, many of whom had Russian passports.
One should not forget that before that moment the Russian Federation recognized the territorial integrity of Georgia without reservation. Now, it was left with no choice but to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as sovereign states. Several countries followed Russia’s example, and their number does not matter here. The term “unrecognized republics” was no longer applicable to the former autonomies of Georgia. Saakashvili and his team made a severe blow upon Georgia.
Some experts say Saakashvili should not be blamed, since he decided nothing personally. However, there is information that yet U.S. President George Bush warned Mishiko (Saakashvili) against a military conflict with Russia, since U.S. could not help him. However, Saakashvili is known with his inadequate steps, and this is not about chewing his tie. When his army that was trained by U.S. specialists and comprised hundreds of foreign military advisers holding pompous military parades in Tbilisi melted like snow in the sun within a few days of military actions, Saakashvili was holding festive concerts in the center of Tbilisi, receiving guests in the persons of the presidents of the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine, making boast of destruction of the 58th army and Russian casualties comparable with those in the Stalingrad and Kursk battles.
Coming to power, the Georgian Dream tried to build pragmatic relations with Russia, but failed to achieve much, since the United National Movement still held some important positions at all levels of power due to its western patrons. This made it possible for the “nationals” to escape a fair punishment and even continue their activity as before. Eventually, the Georgian Dream’s rating fell dramatically, since it failed to fulfill very important pre-election promises, and the coalition has collapsed eventually. Now the statements by leading functionaries of the Georgian Dream little differ from the ones by the representatives of the United National Movement. A number of parties that were once part of the coalition are now running for the parliament independently.
In addition, mass media have certainly changed their attitude to the previous authorities. Even the Georgian Imedi TV - it was once seized by Saakashvili’s special services and was returned to its legal owners with great difficulties only after Saakashvili was overthrown - now speaks of the events of 2008 with evident feeling for the ex-president. Specifically, it remembered about how Saakashvili was scared by the noise of the plane of “Russian occupants.”
Such a shift from evident mockery to evident sympathy is disturbing. Any minute now Mishiko may turn into a hero again. After all, he has been promising to return to his motherland with a triumph.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry, in turn, complains about Russia’s provocative steps, gross violations of the fundamental principles of the international law, but says the following: “The Government of Georgia will further continue its rational policy towards Russia and will use all available diplomatic and political tools to resolve the conflict through peaceful means. Besides, the Government will spare no efforts to create favorable conditions for the reconciliation between the war-torn communities and stay open to share the benefits of Georgia’s European agenda to the people living beyond the occupation line… The Georgian side is grateful to the international community for the firm and unwavering support to its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Georgian side calls upon the international community to further consolidate the efforts in responding to the consequences of the August 2008 war and the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Georgia in compliance with the international law.”
Yet, there is nothing unusual in the statement of the Georgian Foreign Ministry. It is quite clear that no government in Georgia can refuse from the lost territories like Russia will never disown its decisions. Unfortunately, in its statement, the Foreign Ministry of Georgia does not name the forces that drove the process into a stalemate. One can only imagine what else they may do if they seize power again.
The Georgian people are wise and have a good sense of humor. Here is how one of the humoristic shows responded to Saakashvili’s statement saying that most of Russia’s troops were destroyed: “If we proved winners in the war we lost, imagine who we would be if we won it, if fact…”
It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad!
Giorgi Goginashvili for EADaily