OSCE In Georgian Dead End

Bogdan Serpich

On May the 18th-19th another round of international discussions in the framework of Geneva process and the discussions of the Parties on the development of new UNO Mission mandate took place.

The event in Geneva is organized in accordance with the agreements of Russian and French Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy, reached in August 2008 to resolve the issue of security assurance in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The discussions are held under the co-chairing of the EU, UNO and OSCE. They include Russia, the USA, Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia and the EU got into dead end within the issue of monitoring operation of OSCE in Georgia. Russia is against the scheme of the Mission operation, suggested by Greece as a co-chairing Party of OSCE. Mass Media announced that Moscow vetoed Greek variant. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs refuted this information unofficially.  According to Georgian Foreign Minister, Russia was the only one to vote negatively, insisting on individual mandate for OSCE mission in South Ossetia, but without success. Yet there is no final decision adopted. Intensive discussion of this matter keeps on.

Now Greece will try to get this issue into higher political level less comfortable format of discussion for Russia: harder and more politicized. Russia will still attempt to reach compromise, although it’s possible that Russia will soon face more rigid position of Europe regarding Georgia. Previous autumn the EU agreed to draw back Georgian issue, and to unite forces of main Parties to struggle against world financial crisis. Today when the situation on markets is more or less stable, the EU can return to “painful” issues, moreover that there is a negative tendency of energy prospects.

The issue of Georgia can again become a principle disagreement between Moscow and Western countries.

The attention of observers is attracted by the behavior of Belarus – strategic partner of Russia.

> Map Of Georgia
On the eve of the events in Geneva on May the 12th the capital of Abkhazia and its leader Sergey Bagapsh welcomed Belarusian delegation headed by the Head of the Administration of the President of Belarus Vladimir Makey. According to the press-service, the parties discussed issues of Abkhazian and Belarusian cooperation in various spheres.

The delegation also included the first deputy of the Head of Presidential Affairs Department Nikolay Korbut. The names of other delegates were not announced. The Administration of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs still give no comments on this visit.

Under the pressure of Russia Belarus prolongs the process of legal recognition of these Russian protectorates. Moscow insists on that, as a Belarusian part of a so-called Union State, Minsk has to recognize the results of August war of 2008.

But in the situation when Belarusian leader started the game of “dialogue” with the European Union, his pocket parliament appeared to be independent and prolongs the consideration of the issue of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It’s already known that its discussion is appointed on the parliamentary session in autumn.  Obviously, Belarusian President expected the continuation of Rubicon named “Eastern Partnership”. This EU project, that included Georgia together with Belarus, has in fact broken the European self-isolation of Lukashenko’s regime. And after presentation of this project in Prague, held on May the 7th, Aleksander Lukashenko decided to ease the tension with the Kramlin within the issue of two Russian protectorates recognition by delegating the Head of his Administration to Sukhumi.

Vladimir Makey It’s noteworthy, that today Vladimir Makey is a very influential person among Lukashenko’s personnel. And in Moscow this stuff diplomat in grade of colonel of military intelligence is considered as a leader of a pro-Western team of influence within the government of Belarus. So the visit of Makey to Abkhazia can be perceived as a possibility for his competitors to weaken the positions of pro-western stuff within foreign policy of the regime, as well as to weaken the attempts to minimize the reaction of West on revealed open contacts of Minsk with separatists.

Observers also note that together with the visit of Belarusian delegation to Sukhumi, Geneva welcomed the silent visit of Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergey Martynov. The same as in case of Makey’s visit to Sukhumi, neither Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor Belarusian mass media didn’t informed about the stay of Martynov in Geneva.

The tactics of official Minsk is the abstention from legal recognition of state independence of self-separated Georgian territories and simultaneous development of cooperation with them in different spheres.

Minsk gained a great support of its policy from the position of the European Commission.

Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira The issue of status of self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is not a part of the dialogue or a condition of the development of relations of Belarus and the European Union. The Head of the EC Representative Office Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira proved this during the press-conference in Minsk on May the 12th.  According to the Head of the Representative Office, Belarusian authorities and people will decide independently whether they should recognize these countries.

Some experts suggest that there could possibly be no changes within political strategies of the two Parties for such a short period.  But it’s obvious that Belarus and Europe have reached private agreement to avoid sound comments on the issue of these territories recognition in future. The urgency of their recognition or non-recognition weakens gradually.  Belarus has bargained everything possible from the West for non-recognition. Now it will bargain with Russia for the recognition.

If the behavior of Belarus towards Russian-Georgian problem is observed within the context of the Union State with Russia, then the position of Kazakhstan to head OSCE in 2010 will gain more attention.

According to the results of recent negotiations in Washington of Kazakhstan Minister of Foreign Affairs the decision was made to create a joint working team for the period of Kazakhstan presidency in OSCE. This team will include diplomats from Astana and Washington. Exactly this group during 2010 will solve all bilateral issues and problems. Also using the mechanisms of this team Americans plan to express Kazakhstan their wishes regarding the programs and initiatives to be accomplished within the framework of Kazakhstan presidency in OSCE.

It’s obvious that Washington will strive to use independent foreign poliсy course of Astana to promote the influence of the EU and to reduce the position of Russia within CIS countries.

And one shouldn’t doubt that this joint working team of Kazakhstan and American diplomats will touch upon also the issue of Georgian dead-end, in which OSCE found itself after Russian-Georgian war in August of 2008.
PS: The USA are worried about the decision of Russia to withdraw from Geneva Consultations in Caucasus. The US State Department Official Representative Ian Kelly specified this issue in a statement. “The USA regret that Russia followed the way of South Ossetia separatists and on May the 18th withdrew from Geneva Consultation on Georgia in their beginning. Also the USA regret about the decision of Abkhazia to boycott the talks from the very start” – specifies the statement.