Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 17 / Trend E.Tariverdiyeva /
The OSCE Astana summit was a disappointment for the South Caucasus on two important issues of regional security, including the Nagorno-Karabakh and the Russian-Georgian relations, The Heritage Foundation's leading expert on Eurasia and Trend Expert Council member Ariel Cohen said.
"Russia rejected several points proposed by Georgia, and refused to sign the final Declaration of the Summit, which refers to the occupation of Georgian territories," Cohen told Trend over the telephone from Minsk. "In this regard, no progress in Georgian-Russian relations was made at the OSCE summit." Russia's refusal to consider Abkhazia and South Ossetia as conflict zones in Georgia has complicated the adoption of the final declaration of the summit.
After an eleven year break, the OSCE held its summit in Astana on Dec.1-2 under the Kazakh chairmanship. The summit brought together heads of states and governments of all member countries.
Military actions were launched in the unrecognized republic of South Ossetia in August 2008. Georgian troops entered Tskhinvali, with Russian troops later occupying the city. The Russian armed forces drove the Georgian military back into Georgia proper moving towards Tbilisi. Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Aug. 26 and established diplomatic ties with the secessionist states on Sept. 9, 2008.
Cohen said Georgia's foreign policy now is now becoming creative and dynamic.
But, Cohen said, the U.S. takes a de facto position of non-intervention and continues to refuse to supply even defensive weapons.
"Although U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials say that the U.S. supports Georgia's territorial integrity, the Obama administration takes an observer position, refusing to support strengthening of Georgian defenses," he said.
Cohen believes such a U.S. policy encourages Georgia's willingness to improve relations with Iran - and this sends a serious signal to Washington. It also motivates Tbilisi's attempts to establish a dialogue with Moscow, Cohen continued.
Russia, however, refuses all initiatives proposed by Georgia, apparently because the Kremlin is trying to punish President Saakashvili for the events of 2008, he said.
"The Georgian side has its own interpretation of these events, but perhaps Moscow does make sense to listen to Tbilisi's statements and try first behind closed doors, and then through a dialogue at a higher level with Tbilisi, to find a solution" Cohen said.
Cohen noted that the Georgian Foreign Ministry is headed by a veteran of Soviet/Russian diplomacy, Grigol Vashadze.
"I think there is an opportunity to improve relations and begin the process of reconciliation, which, in the long term has to end with the return of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Georgia's fold," Cohen said.