Reply to Svante Cornell’s article : “A damning verdict on Russia” (13 Oct. 2009 - The Guardian)
Despite the EU Report’s sober conclusion not only that Georgia fired the first shot in the Ossetian war of August 2008 but also that it had no legal justification for doing so, Svante Cornell has the gall to argue that ‘firing the first shot does not necessarily mean bearing responsibility for the conflict’. Lost in the sophistry is the long-held dream of Georgia’s leadership of launching large-scale offensives against both S. Ossetia and Abkhazia to return them to the Georgian fold.
Cornell aims to disorientate his readers, treating the Report’s conclusions as equivocations. The investigators were ‘not in a position’ to consider the Georgian claims ‘sufficiently substantiated’; whilst ‘acknowledging Russian provision of military training and equipment to the rebels’, he takes no cognizance of such facts mentioned in the Report as how the ‘US since 2005 embarked upon an extensive military aid programme for Georgia’ or as that ‘the Georgian armed forces had about doubled their strength in terms of manpower compared to the Shevardnadze years, with much better training and equipment than ever before, and much of this newly-acquired military strength was garrisoned on modernized military bases; the most important of them in Senaki facing Abkhazia and the other one near Gori facing South Ossetia’.
Another point where Cornell betrays his impartiality is the pot-shot he aims at so-called ‘passportization’. Russia's distribution of passports to Abkhazians and Ossetians was based on their recipients’ voluntary choice. Compare this to Georgia’s forcibly changing the nationality of the Abkhazian residents of the whole Gal region of Abkhazia into Georgians, a practice pursued throughout the whole history of Georgia’s coexistence with Abkhazians. This fact is still ignored by the EU and is not mentioned in the Report. Does this not deserve real condemnation?
Should not European Countries perhaps be condemned for granting the Georgians EU citizenship?
These are just a few facts. The EU attitude towards Georgia only encourages it to take further extreme actions. The dangerous ambitions of the Georgian establishment and their supporters should rather be kept in check, for these are what pose the real danger to peace and security in Transcaucasia.
Asida Lomia and Liudmila Sagaria
Abkhaz Civil Society Activists.
Sukhum, Abkhazia (ALLS Media Monitoring)