Not much time to blog at the moment, a sudden rush of work. So I am just quoting some extracts from EU Observer which seems to have a lot of coverage of Georgian issues at the moment. So it's not surprising the Geneva talks failed.
[Comment] A mission for all of Georgia 7 October 2008
Joseph Stalin is probably turning in his grave as police from the European Union patrol the streets of his home town, Gori, Georgia. The European Union's decision on 15 September to deploy a EU monitoring mission to this part of the former Soviet Union is indeed a significant step. And French President Nicolas Sarkozy, currently holding the rotating EU presidency, has to some extent been justified in heralding Russia's acquiescence to the mission as a clear victory for European diplomacy.
But the constraints the EU faces are evident as well. Sarkozy felt he needed President Dmitry Medvedev's approval to deploy in a country in Europe's new neighbourhood with its own NATO and EU membership aspirations. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear that the EU will not be welcome in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, entities Russia now recognises as independent states. For now the observers will be sent to confirm Russia's withdrawal from Georgia, particularly the towns of Poti and Senaki, and villages between Gori and the South Ossetian administrative border. Russia has pledged to withdraw by 10 October.
A good start, but not nearly enough. Member states are going to have to push Russia much harder to guarantee that the mission will be able to work throughout Georgia, including in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
If the EU is unable to act in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and if Russia completes its final withdrawal from the rest of Georgia, the mission's futility will rapidly become obvious. EU observers will be overseeing a fairly mundane return to normal life in a handful of towns and villages in western and central Georgia: including the ongoing return of some 127,000 displaced persons, reconstruction of their homes, and handout of humanitarian aid. Monitors will be unarmed and unable to intervene if any violence occurs. The best the EU's personnel can do is take testimony of what happened during the actual conflict and begin determining what crimes occurred. But a month or two should suffice for such work. Thereafter, the EU's presence will be superfluous in those areas.
and then some extracts from
Saakashvili saved Georgia from coup, former Putin aide says 14 October
The Georgian president had no other option than to attack South Ossetia in order to save his country from a Russian coup, Andrei Illarionov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin has said in an interview with EUobserver on the margins of the "European Resource Bank" conference which took place in Tbilisi last weekend (9-12 October).
The unilateral recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian authorities seems to be a "plan B" that Moscow is not genuinely happy with, Mr Illarionov says.
"It appears that plan A was to disorganize the Geogian government and society with some kind of civil war, coup d'etat or revolution, with the participation of Ossetians and Georgians within Georgia to change the regime."
"But since Georgian troops went into Tskhinvali and were able for a number of days to keep the Russian army from moving into Georgia, it was enough time to relocate the rest of the army from the West of the country to defend Tbilisi, to attract world-wide attention, to 'wake up' the public and politicians around the world and to mobilise international support."
"After a few days it became evident that plan A, to organize a revolution or civil war failed. The Russian authorities were forced to move to plan B. But it was a big frustration for the Russian authorities. When you hear bad words used by the Russian officials for Mr Saakashvili, it is just expression of their deep frustration that Mr Saakashvili was able to destroy their well-prepared plan A."
"Plan B was that Russia is trying to defend the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This was made public only a few days after the war and ultimately they have chosen to pretend that they are in favour of their independence. But it is in deep contradiction with the position the Russian authorities have kept for so long, on non-recognition of Chechnya, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, Transdnistria."
"The last thing that Russia needs is these [Georgian] breakaway regions. It's a big problem for the Russian government. It's a serious financial drain, they're not quite sustainable and there's a big criminal problem as well ... All of a sudden you have tens of thousands armed people who can easily enter Russian territory. It's an incredible headache."
Vandalised EU flag tells story of Georgia conflict 15 October
As EU leaders in Brussels meet to debate Russia relations and diplomats in Geneva discuss Georgian security, one Polish aid worker aims to remind politicians of the stark realities of the conflict via a vandalised flag.
"The Russians attacked the university in Gori, which was shelled with high-calibre ordnance," he said. "When we entered we saw fires, books scattered everywhere. Then we noticed how the Russian soldiers had attacked the university flag and the EU flag, which was full of holes from bullets and bayonets. This symbol of the EU countries and of Georgian aspirations was an object of direct physical hatred."
The medical worker picked up the flag and aims to pass it on to European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering in the coming days, to show the war was not just a scrap over bits of Georgian land, but a clash between two bordering ideologies and "empires" - the EU and Russia.
"The parliament should keep this as a sort of museum piece," Mr Wlaszczyk said. "It shows, among certain parts of Russian society, the Russian attitude toward the EU. EU countries should realise that this is being seen as a conflict between two empires."
Based on first-hand witness accounts from Georgian refugees and the wounds of patients examined at his hospital, the aid worker accused Russian forces of planting booby traps in Georgian homes as they retreated, some of which were concealed in children's toys.
But his most vivid memory is the aftermath of a Russian air strike on a kindergarten in Gori, which caused the roof to collapse.
Technorati Tags: Georgia, Russia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia