THE UNITED STATES, NATO, AND THE EUROPEAN UNION DISAGREE WITH RUSSIA OVER EVALUATION OF THE SITUATION IN THE CAUCASUS
Signing of the agreements with Abkhazia and South Ossetia earned Russia additional criticism.
The West denies Abkhazia and South Ossetia recognition as sovereign state. Criticism of Moscow gained in intensity when Russian border guards reinforced with the locals began patrolling South Ossetian and Abkhazian borders.
The United States and NATO began complaining as soon as Russia signed agreements with Sukhumi and Tskhinvali on joint protection of the state borders (April 30). Spokesman for NATO James Appathurai contributed to the criticism yesterday when he appraised the Russian-Abkhazian and Russian-South Ossetian agreements as an “apparent violation” of the agreements with the European Union on peaceful settlement in the Caucasus dated August 12 and September 8, 2008. “It is not in the interests of long-term peace and security in the southern part of the Caucasus,” Appathurai said in the midst of several fierce rows between the Alliance and Russia. One of them was sparked by the military exercise NATO was launching in Georgia despite Russia’s protestations. The other concerned the planned expulsion from Brussels of two Russian diplomats charged with espionage. (One of the diplomats about to be chucked out is the son of Vladimir Chizhov, Russian Representative to the European Union.)
The Czech Republic, EU’s current chair-in-office, made a critical statement too. Official Prague is upset by the signing of the treaties on joint border protection because they “collide with the August 12 peace agreement.”
Presidents Dmitry Medvedev (Russia) and Nicolas Sarkozy (France) signed agreements on peaceful settlement of the situation in the Caucasus after the war in South Ossetia. It happened in Moscow on August 12 and September 8. In accordance with the so called Medvedev-Sarkozy Plan, Russia withdrew its peacekeepers from the security zone around South Ossetia within a month. The European Union in its turn became a guarantor of non-application of force by Georgia and posted a mission of observers in the areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia on October 1. International security consultations began in Geneva, Switzerland, under the UN aegis. All involved parties participated in the discourse. Four rounds of the consultations took place. The fifth will take place on May 18-19.
“Border protection agreements collide with Clauses 5 and 6 of the Sarkozy-Medvedev Plan,” Zuzana Opletalova of the Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic said. “Clause 5 instructed the Russian troops to return to pre-war positions. Russian peacekeepers are only supposed to perform additional functions of defense pending settlement of the conflict by the international community.”
“Brussels believes that all security issues including border protection are a prerogative of the Geneva forum,” Arnaud Dubien of France said. “Unfortunately, signing of the agreements makes the Geneva forum somewhat obsolete.” The expert warned that it might jeopardize the rebooting of the Russian-Western relations in general. “Installation of the new US Administration and bold statements from European and American politicians notwithstanding, real progress is extremely difficult… The agreements Russia signed with Abkhazia and South Ossetia put an end to the hopes for a dramatic improvement of the Russian-EU relations as well.”