Kaczynski and Sarkozy — war and peace
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili decided to become a hero on the Olympics opening day. To guarantee success, he drafted 100,000 reservists to fight a 70,000-strong republic.
Instead of looking for ways of peaceful settlement with the unruly Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he provoked a bloody conflict which took hundreds of lives. Saakashvili wanted to consolidate his positions in his own country. Having started the war, he did not expect to be its main victim. Meanwhile, he could see it all in advance. A mere 25 per cent of South Ossetia’s population is Georgian and the rest are Ossetians with Russian passports. Moreover, Ossetians remember how Georgians seized their territory by force after the Soviet Union’s disintegration.
About 3,000 Ossetians perished in that war.
This time, shells hit also the base of Russian peacekeepers, who have been stationed there under the 1992 Dagomys agreement. This was a violation of international law. Infantry and tanks joined the attack against defenceless Ossetians, razing their city to the ground. A mere 15 per cent of buildings survived the attack. The blitzkrieg was effective, and the Ossetian problem seemed to have been finally resolved.
This was the start of the war, which Lech Kaczynski and those for whom Polish patriotism means Russophobia call Russia’s aggression against Georgia.
Saakashvili is accused of suppressing democracy and forging the elections. He started a war without thinking about the ensuing wave of violence and bloodshed. He fanned an ethnic conflict, the boundaries of which are so far uncertain. Playing on chauvinism and nationalism, he tried to consolidate his position by uniting Georgian people around a struggle against a foreign enemy. Such politicians are dangerous, and not only for their own compatriots.
What was Saakashvili counting on when he unleashed this pointless war? Was he hoping to achieve a fast and easy victory? Did he want to strengthen his own shaky positions? Did he count on Russia’s neutrality or U.S. military support? Did he wish to stun the world which was glued to the Olympic flame? Or did he rely on the guarantees given by irresponsible politicians, including the Polish president?
It does not matter what he was hoping for because he suffered a defeat all along the line.
First of all, he wasted his claims to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. His attempt to annex the latter by force of arms has finally alienated it from Georgia. Even if the Russians left, peaceful coexistence is no longer an option there. The sadistic and horrible war took too heavy a toll. The retreating Georgian soldiers threw grenades into the basements of buildings to check whether Ossetian families were hiding there.
Georgia has also lost an option to join NATO. Even before it had influential opponents, such as Germany and France, which feared that NATO may get involved in the Caucasian conflict. Now these apprehensions have been confirmed. Not a single leader in his right mind wants his country to get drawn into an armed conflict with Russia, provoked by the bellicose gang leader.
The Georgian President has also destroyed his carefully created image. The victims of the war and the rough-talking opposition will present him with a huge bill. Today’s fanfare will soon die out.
Apparently, Russia is aware of all that, and this is why it does not need to fight anymore. Saakashvili himself has implemented Moscow’s goals. Russia has won, and it has a weighty argument to its credit — Georgia was the first to attack. This is abundantly clear.
The British Guardian wrote recently: "While Russia walks tall, Saakashvili will struggle to survive as one of the world’s youngest presidents. The Europeans are already divided and vulnerable to charges of indecision and impotence. NATO splits over Georgia and Ukraine will widen. American policies in the region have been severely set back. Western energy policy is looking flaky."
Lech Kaczynski has also lost together with Saakashvili. It does not even matter that he was primarily lobbying the interests of the Georgian president rather than Georgia, and that instead of becoming a go-between, he unequivocally sided with the adventurer during the domestic crisis in that country. The main point is that the idea of the Warsaw-Kiev-Tbilisi axis has fallen through. It was supposed to guarantee these countries’ political weight and energy security. Now Poland’s position has been weakened because Warsaw sided with Georgia, and the Georgian war has delayed its plan to build oil pipelines to Ukraine and Poland via Georgia.
Kaczynski had to suffer one more humiliating experience. An hour before his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who became a mediator between Georgia and Russia on behalf of the entire European Union (EU), Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced his decision to stop the military operation in South Ossetia. This decision brought success to France and the rest of the EU, while Poland, Ukraine and some Baltic countries found themselves in a foolish position. Their leaders were going all the way to stick up for Georgia.
Without any questions to the passengers of the Polish Tupolev, Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Sarkozy agreed on a six-point plan of the conflict’s settlement in Moscow. Under the circumstances, the visit of these countries’ leaders to Tbilisi was reduced to a tourist trip and a demonstration of Russophobia. During his odd speech at the rally, the Polish President finally reaffirmed his complete irresponsibility, having posed as a war-monger as distinct from Mr. Sarkozy, who urged for peace.
The author of a blog on the Polish portal Onet.pl wrote: "As any politician, Lech Kaczynski has the right to have his own opinion. He may be an anti-communist and a Russophobe. But he was elected President to care about the interests of his country, not the interests of Georgia, its security, or Saakashvili. It is not his task to defend the U.S. position in this region, to say nothing of his own unrealistic projects."
Statements by Polish or other Baltic leaders are of no consequence anymore. Not a single participant in the "old" EU or "old" NATO has signed them. Instead German Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler said that "by attacking South Ossetia, Georgia has violated international law." He added that he "absolutely understands the Russian reaction, because it was the Georgians who attacked Russian peacekeepers, not the other way round."
Today, Georgia has already withdrawn its troops from Ossetia. This is a step in the right direction, to the end of the pointless war.
A wonderful example came from Beijing. Two girls — a Russian and a Georgian, hugged each other on the Olympic pedestal, receiving their well-deserved medals.
Reconciliation is difficult but not impossible. As for Kaczynski’s guerrilla raids, they cause damage to the entire Europe, Georgia, and most important, Poland.
[Source: By Leszek Miller, The Hindu, Novosti, 20Aug08. Leszek Miller is a former Prime Minister of Poland 2003-2004]
The Question of South Ossetia
|This document has been published on 21Aug08 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|