Comment on the Resolution of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly № 382 of 16th of November 2010. By Irakli Khintba
NATO Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 382 "On the situation in Georgia", adopted by majority of votes on November 16, 2010 strikes with its aggressive rhetoric and uncompromising evaluations. Early postwar years come to mind, when Abkhazia was suffering most severe pressure from all stakeholders of the settlement process. However, over the years it became apparent that the blockade and excessive political pressure can not resolve the conflict, and Abkhazia can not be forced to return to Georgia. The new resolution by NATO Parliamentary Assembly in this sense seems like an obvious anachronism.
According to its letter and spirit the resolution is fully consistent with existing Georgia's approaches to "problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia." The resolution contains such terms in relation to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as "occupied territory", "ethnic cleansing", it expresses support for Georgia's Strategy on Occupied Territories and Action Plan, declares commitment to the principle of territorial integrity of Georgia. The document essentially denies the existence of ethnic conflicts between Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia, replacing them by confrontation between Georgia and Russia.
The adoption of this resolution within a few days before NATO Summit in Lisbon, which could mark a new stage in relations between Russia and NATO, is not accidental. This is a signal to Russia meaning that cooperation with NATO may require higher returns from it and all kinds of concessions. Whereas from Tbilisi can be heard joyful exclamations of "another diplomatic victory of Georgia". However, in my opinion, Georgian authorities should refrain from excessive enthusiasm. It seems to me that the emergence of this resolution means just that Georgia will not receive a clear signal about the prospects of joining NATO at the Summit in Lisbon. Maximum of what it can achieve is that the phrase from the Declaration of the Bucharest Summit in 2008, that "Georgia will join NATO" will be included - though no one knows when. This resolution is a bone thrown to Georgia in order to mitigate a possible disappointment of Tbilisi both as a result of another prolongation of integration with NATO, and from the declaration on measures for strengthening of strategic partnership between Russia and NATO.
NATO's role in resolving conflicts in South Caucasus, as well as in strengthening stability in the region can be described as destructive. It is known that NATO contributed to the militarization of Georgia, and today, according to opinion polls, the Alliance is perceived by the majority of Georgian population in an instrumental sense, but not in value - as a tool of forceful return of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and not as a resource for modernization and democratization. It is no wonder that NATO has always been the personification of maximum danger for Abkhazia.
Today, against the background of the "Reset" of relations between Russia and the United States and possible rapprochement between Moscow and NATO it could be possible to try to break the negative image of the West, existing in public consciousness of Abkhazia, and gain access to modernizing resources of Europe and the USA. The emergence of such resolutions seriously hits the positions of those who think that it necessary for Abkhazia not to fall from civilized, value, in the long run, political space of the West. Full solidarity of NATO Parliamentary Assembly with Georgian policy and an uncritical attitude to internal processes in the country lead to the fact that the West is identified with Georgia in the view of the residents of Abkhazia. This leads to an equally negative and cautious attitude toward it, as well as to Tbilisi. However, Georgia and the West - is not the same thing, but, unfortunately, unwise resolution tosses a number of weighty arguments for supporters of anti-Western vector of Abkhazia.
In addition, the resolution prevents the resolution of conflicts, as assigns Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the role of silent extras in the South Caucasus geopolitical drama. While acknowledging the fact of "occupation" of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, NATO parliamentarians indulge irresponsibility of Georgian leadership, which is not interested in real resolution of conflict. M. Saakashvili seeks to explain his citizens the inability to return Abkhazia and Georgia's inability to become attractive for the population of Abkhazia by "objective factors" - the mythical "Russian occupation". Support of "Yakobashvili’s Strategy" means support for the ongoing process of isolation of Abkhazia. Changeling ethnopolitical confrontation between Abkhazia and Georgia by international political conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi makes it impossible to conduct real conflict transformation and only refreshes geopolitical divisions in South Caucasus. Georgia is doing everything to alienate Abkhazia from cooperation with the West, as it sees there the risk of reinforcing of Abkhaz statehood and the prospect of its international recognition. Ironic here is that some circles in the West, particularly represented by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, indulge Tbilisi, ignoring its own strategic interests.
Of course, this resolution is advisory in nature and appearance in it of such terms as "occupied territories" and "ethnic cleansing" does not mean their international legal legitimacy. It should also be borne in mind that Parliamentary Assemblies of major international institutions - NATO, Council of Europe - in no small measure designed to "exhaustion" and satisfaction of the ambitions of the most radical circles of the political establishment of the participating countries. While the Assemblies are labeling and stigmatizing, pragmatic people in the executive bodies of these organizations will still be conducting balanced, realistic policy, based largely on real interests but not political emotions. Hope remains that EU's policy on "interaction without recognition" will gain sustainability and become a sort of a transitional form to a more productive relationship of Abkhazia with the outside world, and improving relations between the West and Russia will beneficially affect the prospects for international recognition of Abkhazia.