Conclusions in Georgian Russian dilemma

 Conclusions and Recommendations
aakashvili is pursuing a high-risk strategy: by making the restoration of
the country’s territorial integrity his first priority and seeking to resolve
long-running separatist disputes, he risks undermining his own political
position if he fails to achieve this. He declared his determination to tackle
the issue of separatism right at the beginning of his presidency, perhaps in
an attempt to demonstrate his leadership credentials and intention of
following a more dynamic path than his predecessor. The Georgian leader
needs to focus on “soft” means of persuasion and conflict resolution, 

a “carrot” rather than a “stick” approach by seeking to meet peoples’ basic
needs with the provision of pensions, medicines and fertilizers, rather than
immediately resorting to “hard” military pressure in order to reinforce its
political message to the separatist regions. By providing proactive
economic rehabilitation and social assistance programs, Tbilisi can seek to
quell separatism through economic and political persuasion, offering them
commodities and facilities that the regional authorities are unable to, as well
as substantial autonomy, in the hope of convincing the populations that
they will be better off within Georgia rather than outside of it.
Although he has consistently denied that Tbilisi is planning a military
campaign against either Abkhazia or South Ossetia, he may be left with
little choice if attempts to resolve the disputes by political and economic
means fails. 

While a renewed offensive appears an unlikely prospect, if
Saakashvili were to decide that the military is in a position to resolve the
political stalemate by force, the ensuing conflicts could spell disaster for the
volatile South Caucasus and may necessitate the deployment of
international peacekeepers or peacemakers, together with a substantial
humanitarian aid package and forces to protect energy infrastructure in the
Resolving the situation by military means also raises the possibility
of further confrontation with Russia, although Tbilisi has called on Russia to
remain neutral and not get involved in separatist conflicts on Georgian
territory. As discussed above, the resolution of both the South Ossetian and
Abkhazian disputes depends on the attitude that Russia takes and its role
as a mediator must be fostered, although not at the expense of Georgia’s
position. Moscow has a very positive role to play as the major economic
and military power in the South Caucasus, but it needs to move away from
its traditional geopolitical view of the region towards a more co-operative
and consensual approach.
Peaceful settlement of the two conflicts would boost stability in the
Caucasus and strengthen regional security. Western states must make a
commitment to stability and democracy in the region, and efforts to sort out
unresolved conflicts in the region need to be stepped up by international
and regional actors. Although the OSCE and UN have to date remained the
key external actors involved in attempts to resolve Georgia’s long-running
separatist problems, their efforts are hampered by a lack of consensus
among its members and effective enforcement mechanisms. The EU has
more leverage: it is developing into a major international player and is a key
trading partner for the South Caucasus countries, giving it considerable

 Thus the EU, as well as individual member-states, need to
redouble their involvement in the search for acceptable solutions. There is
some optimism for positive action in 2006, as the Austrian and Finnish
presidencies have made it clear that they intend to consider expanding the
role of the EUSR, as well as supporting EU conflict resolution efforts.28
If the EU really is committed to boosting stability in the South
Caucasus then it needs to take substantive action, rather than merely
making well-meaning statements and publishing reports. It needs to expand
the mandate of the EUSR and take concrete steps towards enhancing the
conflict prevention aspect of its presence in the region. Increasing its border
monitoring role would enable the EU to view the situation at first-hand,
rather than relying on information from third-parties. It should promote the
negotiation process and advocate the necessity of compromise and
consensus. In both disputes, confidence must be restored and all sides
need to express a willingness to compromise on key issues such as
political autonomy and the rights of refugees.

 Furthermore, Russia must be
encouraged to play a more positive role and end years of persistent
interference. This is perhaps the most difficult task: the EU lacks any form
of leverage by which it can seek to influence Russian behavior—it cannot
offer the potential of membership, as the prospects of Russia ever joining
(or ever wanting to join) the EU are minimal—while conversely, Russia
appears to have considerable leverage in the form of its hydrocarbons.
Mikheil Saakashvili faces an uphill struggle to re-integrate the
rebellious regions back into the Georgian fold. He needs to strike a balance
between preserving Georgia’s territorial integrity and protecting the rights of
the Abkhazian and Ossetian peoples. Although he is determined to engage
the separatist regions in dialogue about their political status, the separatist
leaders have no incentive to participate in negotiations whilst they have the
security of Russian backing. In order to prevent further deterioration of
either separatist dispute, Georgia must focus on political and economic
efforts to resolve the conflicts, Russia must be persuaded that it is in its
best interest to play a positive role and the EU must deepen its
engagement with the region as a whole. Superficially, Georgia’s
secessionist conflicts are a dispute between the authorities in Tbilisi and
separatists. However, they have become a battleground between Georgia
and Russia, with the former seeking to maintain its territorial integrity and
sovereignty in the face of persistent interference by the latter

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