Experts: Washington does not want to spoil relations with either Moscow or Tbilisi

Experts: Washington does not want to spoil relations with either Moscow or Tbilisi

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 28 /Trend, E.Tariverdiev/

The last meeting between the presidents of U.S. Barack Obama and Russia Dmitry Medvedev has shown that Washington does not want to risk its relations with Moscow because of Russia's conflict with Georgia, but the United States will continue to support Georgia's territorial integrity, experts say.

"It is not in the interests of the U.S. to have bad relations with Russia and Georgia. Therefore, Washington is actively trying to make progress on both fronts, without distancing either party," a U.S. analyst on South Caucasus Roman Muzalevsky said. 

Disagreement remains between Russia and the U.S. over Georgia, but there are prospects of preserving stability in the region, said the U.S. President Barack Obama after meeting with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on 24 June. "With regards to Georgia, there are differences, but at the same time we see the prospect of maintaining a stable situation," said Obama.

Shortly before Dmitri Medvedev's visit to U.S., President Obama in his message to Congress offered to no longer consider situation in Georgia as an obstacle to return to an agreement on nuclear cooperation with Russia. In his message, Obama in detail explained his support for the 123 Agreement with the Russian Federation. The President said that he approved the proposed agreement and believes that it would strengthen the common defense and security of the United States.

123 Agreement was signed in May 2008 in Moscow, it establishes the basic principles of cooperation between the two countries in the development of peaceful atomic energy. In September of that year the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush withdrew the agreement from Congress after the Russian-Georgian military conflict.

Obama said in his message that the situation in Georgia now should not be considered as an obstacle to moving forward the proposed agreement. In addition, the President considers important the US-Russian cooperation on Iran's nuclear issue. Obama said the progress in the development of this theme was embodied in a number of bilateral decisions and documents, including the new Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms, recently signed in Prague.

According to some American experts, for the sake of good relations with Russia, the Obama administration is ready to give up Georgia and Moldova, which rely on U.S. help in dealing with Moscow.

David Kramer writes in the Washington Post that the fears cause interest of the Obama administration to revive the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), from which Russia withdrew in 2007. Moscow has refused to implement the Istanbul agreements of 1999 on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia and Moldova.

According to Muzalevsky, given Russia's global role in international politics and the nature of today's transnational threats, it is easy to see how Georgia can be viewed by the U.S. as a junior partner.

"Georgian President Saakashvilli understands this well and therefore seeks to link normalization of relations between the U.S. and Russia with possible progress on its own relations with Moscow," Muzalevsky, analyst at Institute of Central Asia and Caucasus at Johns Hopkins University, wrote to Trend in an e-mail.

According to him, possibly Russia will exert pressure on Moscow, but not on all currently outstanding issues between Tbilisi and Moscow, and only with time and a change of leadership in Georgia

However, according to Georgian expert Kakha Gogolashvili, despite Russia's attempts, the U.S. does not intend to give up Georgia.

"Russia is clearly trying to reconcile its relationship with the United States and thinks that this will play a role in the issue of concessions on Georgia, but the U.S. has repeatedly stated that it will not compromise on this issue," Gogolashvili told Trend.

According to another Georgian expert Andro Barnov, the priority of the meeting was exactly to keep stability in the region.

"This means that we need time to carefully continue state-building and even stronger public institutions, to achieve a stronger democracy. We are given an opportunity to believe that there will not be open intervention of Russia in the foreseeable future," said Barnov.

The independent Georgian expert Malkhaz Latsabidze also believes that despite that the United States needs Russia's support in the "reload", they could not remove Georgia from the agenda.

Russian political expert, an invited professor at the London Research Centre Chatham House Yury Fedorov, however, believes that first of all it needs to understand what "reload" mean.

"I think that at least from the American side it meant concluding certain transactions between Moscow and Washington," Fedorov said in an interview with Radio Liberty.

The United States has made a whole series of very serious concessions towards Russia, said Fedorov.

"I mean the actual rejection of any "plans" on inviting Georgia to NATO. The Russian aggression against Georgia has long been not mentioned," he said.

According to experts, the U.S. is very interested in cooperating with Russia, which will only strengthen the security in the region.

With Russia's accession to the WTO, the. U.S. and Russia will both benefit from expansion of bi-lateral trade and accompanying investments, especially in the food, agricultural, Muzalevsky said.

"The renewed economic ties between Moscow and Washington will also reinforce the already expanding political and security relationship between the two countries, with more progress possible on Afghanistan, Iran, non-proliferation, and other issues of global and regional concern, including Georgia," Muzalevsky said.

A lot, of course, will also depend on Georgia's policy course in the coming years - toward both Washington and Moscow, he said.   

According to the Georgian expert Soso Tsintsadze, Georgian theme will be steadily on the agenda during any negotiations between Washington and Moscow.

According to Tsintsadze, this is testified by the fact that the talk about Georgia was not planned at a meeting of two Presidents, but they have failed, or did not escape the topic, but more than that, the U.S. made a statement in support of Georgia.  
"America does not intend to cede Georgia, and reaching an agreement on this issue between Moscow and Washington is almost impossible," expert believes.

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