28 October, 2010

The visa-free regime to enter Georgia which was offered to the North Caucasus republics was christened by some as a risky action; others believed it was an attempt to tease Russia; yet others took it as a step taken to set up closer relations with neighboring Caucasian peoples. Positive sides as well as risks, that accompany this novelty, are discussed by the expert of Caucasian issues Mamuka Areshidze:

M.A. – One part of Georgian political scientists consider that it is Russia,

who impelled Georgian authorities to take this decision. According to the second version, it was done for Armenia because about one million Armenians live in the North Caucasus and Armenia was also involved in settling of this issue. There is a third version as well. Namely, it will become easier, on the one hand, for the North-Caucasians who are disaffected with Russian authorities and on the other hand, for the militant envoys, to enter Georgia. According to the version of the Authorities, thanks to the visa-free regime, only political dissidents and young people interested in getting education will come to Georgia.

Q. - Storming the Chechen Parliament by militants several days ago was linked by Ramzan Kadirov with Georgia. According to him, the only country assisting the militants and helping them in training is Georgia.
M.A. – This was done to once again put pressure on Georgia. But one must have a convoluted mind to notice other people’s trace and not his own in storming Chechen Parliament. Whatever is going on in the North Caucasus is ‘thanks’ to Federal Center and current Chechen authorities. If not their improvident and unjustifiably relentless policy, new members wouldn’t enter the underground. They did their best to daily increase the number of clandestine organization members. They are not only Islamites but also the youths who like the idea of national liberty or the people, whose relative or brothers were killed by the federal forces. Vendetta still exists there and it’s incomprehensible why Kadiriv’s authorities don’t reflect on it.

Q. – Will leaving of Perevi by Russians be followed by their quick withdrawal from other occupied territories?
M.A. – It was in summer when I first said the occupational forces would leave Perevi. Of course, there was international pressure applied and Georgian diplomacy was active too; but Perevi is the only village outside the Autonomous Republic that was occupied by Russians. This certainly created discomfort for Russia. Perevi is wedged in South Ossetia in such a way that it was only through this place that South Ossetia could connect with its northern and southern parts. Now Russians have laid a detour road through Ossetian village of Sinaguri. Perevi has lost its infrastructural significance and for this reason Russians have conceded it so easily.
Pressure on Russia must continue but I cannot say they will leave Akhalgori as well because it acquires special strategic significance. It’s a sword of Damocles hanging over Georgia – through some villages of Akhalgori, for instance, Orchosani, the occupational forces control one part of Trans-Caucasus pipeline. Why should Russia lose such an important mechanism of control? Besides, through Akhalgori, Russia indirectly controls Kazbegi region.

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