The Shevardnadze Comeback
12 January, 2012
The Shevardnadze Comeback

The world politics is replete with facts of international recognition of authorities that came to power as a consequence of an armed insurrection. Shevardnadze was familiar to the international community thanks to his authority as the Soviet Foreign Minister and his general recognizability.  Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.

GJ – The 1991 civil confrontation between the followers of Georgia’s first president Zviad Gamsakhurdia and his opposition ended in his fleeing Georgia, accompanied by his closest entourage, first for Armenia and

later for Chechnya. Most of the participants in ‘Round Table’ political alliance and the members of the Gamsakhurdia government left the Motherland having asked for political asylum in various countries, or became regular immigrants somewhere in the wide world. The power in Georgia was taken over by the interim Military Council, consisting of three persons – Tengiz Kitovani, Tengiz Sigua and Jaba Ioseliani. These three persons were the authors of the military coup d'etat. The Council was not at all capable of exuding enough power to control the situation and to manage the developing processes.

The civil confrontations in various regions of Georgia continued ceaselessly. The economy was in ruins. The country was suffering actual political disaster, and the nation was doddering on the verge of final collapse. This is why the members of the Military Council, presumably in consultation with their closest political and personal associates made a crucial decision, as a result of which in March of 1992 an airplane landed at Tbilisi Airport, carrying Mr. Eduard Shevardnadze in a capacity of the head of Georgia’s provisional government. How did that happen so simply and easily – the triumphant comeback of the former communist leader to the country which no longer had anything to do with communism and soviets?

S.M. – The Russian government made a cunning attempt to take the undelayed advantage of illegitimate position of Georgia’s provisional government. The country had a government, although provisional, and the head of the government. But the elections could not have been held immediately, could it? Time was needed to organize it.

GJ – So the provisional government could not have been considered as the legitimate one . . .

S.M. – Absolutely not! Because the coup d'etat was executed not via the revolution but with the help of armed formations, in other words by a military junta. The 100 members of the provisional government had not been elected by the popular vote, but were assigned at the discretion of the Military Council. The level of legitimacy of the government was lowered also by he fact of abrogating the constitution by the provisional government (during Gamsakhurdia’s rule, the constitution of the Soviet Georgia was effective with certain amendments to it) and reinstated the constitution of 1921. Even that was done on the level of a sheer declaration. The 1921 constitution could not have worked anyway due to a very simple reason – as a minimum, the elections were needed to be held in the country (according to the 1921 constitution, Georgia was a more unitary country and its territory was larger too). The world politics is replete with facts of international recognition of authorities that came to power as a consequence of an armed insurrection. Shevardnadze was familiar to the international community thanks to his authority as the Soviet Foreign Minister and his general recognizability. Moreover, in just about three months of his arrival in Georgia, the country received an official membership in the United Nations. At that time, numerous famous political figures frequented Georgia, certainly attracted by its new leader Eduard Shevardnadze.

GJ – Did that mean that the West had recognized the Shevardnadze rule in Georgia anyway?  
S.M. – Yes it did! But his government still lacked legitimacy. And Russia made a perfidious attempt to make use of that disadvantage. They tried to exacerbate the separatist sentiments in the conflict regions where there was no shortage of pro-Russian population. In the Tskhinvali region, for example, they imposed a peacemaking plan on Shevardnadze.

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