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10 Aug, 2009 11:22

ROAR: Media rundown on Ossetian war anniversary

ROAR: Media rundown on Ossetian war anniversary

The Russian media are full of editorials, articles and commentaries about the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Ossetian war, and here we provide a brief summary of those opinions.

Kommersant pointed out that both sides in the war accused each other of instigating the conflict.

“During the weekend Moscow and Tbilisi accused each other of starting aggression and justified actions of their servicemen,” the business daily noted. “The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated that Russia, which spoiled slightly its relations with the West because of the war, will not make a compromise.”

Medvedev was quoted as saying, “in the long run, the operation to force Georgia to make peace did not complicate our relations with other countries.” He noted that “no one said it but nevertheless everybody understood perfectly that the truth is on our side.”

The president added that Russia “was right from both a legal and moral standpoint.” At the same time he promised to do “everything possible” to reestablish ties with the Georgian people, Kommersant stressed.

Aleksey Makarkin, deputy vice president of the Center for Political Technologies, believes that the commemoration events in Russia and South Ossetia have demonstrated the firmness of Russia’s position in the conflict.

“The military conflict began to efface from memory,” he told Trud daily. “Russia refreshed that memory… and showed to people of [Abkhazia and South Ossetia] that nobody had forgotten about them,” Makarkin said.

Analysts stress that Moscow’s formal recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a topic that ranked high during the war and the French president’s intermediary mission, only slightly changed Russia’s relations with the West.

“But now this issue for the West went to the periphery,” Makarkin told Polit.ru website.

As for the “information war,” it was difficult for Russia to win it, Makarkin said.

You cannot ask people in the West to understand details of the confrontation between Georgians and Ossetians, to understand what happened in 19th and 20th centuries between them, he added.

The Russian president said that Moscow’s assessment of [Georgian President Mikhail] Saakashvili’s regime “is in no way affiliated with our feelings towards the Georgian people… we have very old close fraternal ties, and we hold them very dear,” he added.

He also noted that “more than one and a half million Georgians live in Russia itself and consider our country their home.” However, Kommersant wrote that “the mourning events in Georgia demonstrate that Russia will hardly manage to restore ties with that country.”

The Russian media also quote President Medvedev as saying that Moscow would not revise its decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“This was the only way we could guarantee people’s security and stability in the Caucasus region,” Medvedev said.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during the weekend said once again that Russia “did not want that war, but simply had no other choice,” Vremya Novostey daily wrote.

“If the Georgian leadership had wanted to preserve the unified state in these new conditions, then it should have respected both Abkhazians and South Ossetians,” Putin said.

Commenting on the situation in Georgia a year after the conflict, Russian media noted that Saakashvili still controls the power in the country. This is largely because the Georgian opposition is afraid to seem “pro-Russian,” Kommersant Vlast weekly wrote.

“Many in Georgia understand: Saakashvili will not go because of activities of the opposition,” the weekly reported. “The opposition proved to be not as determined as the radical electorate expected, and lost support in society.”

“Saakashvili himself understood that he is stronger than the opponents,” Vlast continued. “The US Vice President recently demonstrated that Washington is ready to support the Georgian president during his presidential term, which expires only in 2013.”

Many analysts seem convinced that the issue of the two breakaway republics will last beyond Saakashvili’s term. Today, Georgia authorities say the present situation “is temporary and Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be returned soon,” Aleksandr Chachia, a Georgian political scientist, said during an online conference at Argumenty i Fakty weekly.

“And the reality is that Abkhazia and South Ossetia seceded from Georgia,” Chachia noted. “We all need a reintegration project, taking into account the present realities. I don’t think that the new project is possible under the current power in Georgia, because it is a group of puppets who realize the US interests in this region, not the interests of their country.”

Meanwhile, Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma’s Committee on International Relations, told Expert weekly that “the fate of Abkhazia and South Ossetia may and will be determined only by Sukhum and Tskhinval, but not by Tbilisi or even Moscow.”

Kosachev stressed that the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia “had evolved at the moment of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the refusal of Abkhazian and Ossetian peoples to live in the united Georgian state.”

It is difficult to predict how the situation will develop, Kosachev said. He added that Tbilisi’s position “not to discuss any variants but the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity” has no perspective.

“We in Russia are ready to support any choice that peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will make,” Kosachev said. “And this is the principal difference of Russia’s approach from Georgia’s approach,” he added. Tbilisi does not recognize or respect this choice of the two peoples, Kosachev stressed.

The normalization of relations between Moscow and Tbilisi is possible when a new generation of politicians in Georgia would be able to take part in the dialogue with Russia, Kosachev said earlier. He also believes that both Russia and Georgia will have to return to “the turning point from which we went to a deadlock” in order to change the present situation.

Sergey Borisov, RT