Saakashvili's allies are totally wrong, Does war mean that Georgia ‘breathed out’? - Georgian political analyst | Eurasia Diary -

27 January, Monday

Saakashvili's allies are totally wrong, Does war mean that Georgia ‘breathed out’? - Georgian political analyst

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Georgia commemorates 11th year of August War with Russia. The war started on 7 August and a ceasefire was reached on 12 August in 2008. These days are the most tragic days of the modern history of Georgia.

228 civilians, 170 military officers and 14 police officers lost their lives in the war, while 1747 people were wounded. Almost 150 thousand people were forced to leave their homes, 30,000 of which still remain as IDPs. Five soldiers also went missing. 

The war resulted in 20% occupation of Georgian lands.

Eurasia Diary took an interview by Georgian political analyst Ghia Abashidze for understanding what happened and what Georgia should do.


- What do you think who is guilty of these events? Russian or Georgian government? How do Georgians think?

- The question of who started the war in August 2008 does not require different answers. Of course, Russia and did it well before 2008. Tbilisi could not start the war on its own territory within its internationally recognized borders. However, the 2009 report commissioned by the EU blamed Georgia for starting the five-day war with Russia, but said Moscow’s military response went beyond reasonable limits and violated international law. Both sides had broken international humanitarian laws and found evidence of ethnic cleansing against ethnic Georgians during Russia’s intervention in the rebel province of South Ossetia [Tskhinvali region], the Tagliavini report outlined. Prior to that the PACE Resolution #1633 of October 2008 outlined that “the start of shelling of Tskhinvali without warning by the Georgian military, on 7 August 2008, initiated a new level of escalation, namely that of open and full-fledged warfare. The use of heavy weapons and cluster munitions, creating grave risks for civilians, constituted a disproportionate use of armed force by Georgia, albeit within its own territory, and as such a violation of international humanitarian law and Georgia's commitment to resolve the conflict peacefully”. And the then ruling party – the UNM signed that resolution.

Conventional wisdom says that any government everywhere should avert wars and do not fall into a clear-cut provocation trap. Unfortunately, not only then irresponsible Saakashvili’s government did not do it, but with its anti-state policies, it made the implementation of the Kremlin’s occupation plan possible.

- Wars generally break down morally or unite the nations. I mean wars are making a negative or positive impact on nations. How did this war affect Georgia?

- Regrettably, for a number of years Saakashvili’s UNM monopolized, tabooed the August war topic i.e. any criticism of previous government’s behavior in handling the August war equalled to treason and playing for the Russian interests. That’s no longer the case in the Georgian society. We have to baldly talk about the truth. Inside and outside Georgia, our friends and foes know the truth.

Recently, some close allies of Saakashvili stressed that the August war enabled Georgia to ‘breathe out’ and further develop with the generous help of the West. That’s totally wrong tradeoff. Consequences of that war are dramatic – hundreds killed and injured, thousands displaced, houses torched and hundreds of Georgian villages taken away. Ultimately, 20% of Georgia occupied by heavy Russian military presence. Does it mean that Georgia ‘breathed out’?..

Georgia has to restore peacefully its territorial integrity with the help of its allies but those irresponsible political players who committed grave mistakes in allowing Russian occupation to happen must be held accountable. It is our debt to our citizens and those heroes who died and suffered following the 5-day war.

- Some politicians think Georgia has to hold positive relations with Russia some on the contrary. What do you think what kind of relations has to be held with Russia?

- De-occupation means implementing policies in a principal way. The Georgian Dream's policies on the international arena vis-a-vis Russia are consecutive and solid. Achieving as much international support as possible and it’s vivid from Trump administration and Georgia’s European partners. However, domestically it is also important to call everything by its name. Peaceful talks with the expanded engagement of Western leaders do not have an alternative for de-occupation of this country.


Interviewed by Ulvi Ahmedli

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