Nestan Kirtadze: the war in August was a confrontation between the USA and Russia in the territory of Georgia

About respondent

After the Russian and Georgian war in August of 2008 two years have passed. What has changed during this time, what is the extent of Georgia's support from the side of international community? What is the Georgia's historical datum at present and what are the perspectives. These and other issues were discussed by GHN during the interview with a historian, professor, Mrs. Nestan Kirtadze.

- Mrs. Kirtadze, after the Russian-Georgian war two years have passed. What has changed during these two years? From current standpoint are there any prospects for restoration of Georgia's integrity?

- Indeed, two years elapsed after the bloody developments of August 7-8, 2008. When absolutely each episode, each day and hour of this great tragedy remains alive, emotions and feelings of people remain fresh as well. We are offered the version of war beneficial only to one political group; suggesting the assessments serving as a concealment for offences of this group. But this cannot be so, as such is a principle of historicism fixing permanently this grave episode of the newest history of Georgia as a major national catastrophe. When Kartli was deprived of its heart; when on the political map of united Georgia three independent states have originated recognized as subjects of the international law; when our country was deprived of chance for the future united Georgian state; when we have additionally received ten thousands of refugees and forcibly displace persons; there were victims among the peaceful population; when the Georgian patriots - military personnel and soldiers of Peace Corps with all the international legitimacy for presence in the country were killed; when tens and hundreds of children, teenagers and young people with emotional injuries and mental anguish received during the war are to continue their lives estranged from native roots, and all Georgia must continue existence without country's vital space in expectation of the historical chance.
Unfortunately, this is an incomplete list of estimates of results gained by reckless policy, full homelessness, and adventurist experiments referred to as bloody developments of August 7-8, 2008. The war breaks out there, where will for peace, reasonable policy and diplomacy are absent.

- In your opinion what are the positions of Georgia in the international scene. Is the support of international community towards Georgia pressing in the same way as during the postwar period?

- The more time passes, the more the modern international political context is changed; change the interests of world big actors, and one can see that this time, circumstances and interests, in no way, bring nearer unification of Georgia. For example: after debates of several months, on July 22 the International Court of the Hague was adopted a verdict: "unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo shall no be considered as an infringement of the international law, as there's no provision that would be infringed as such by this act". This fact was met by the international community with due alert, at the same time many newspaper and expert articles were dedicated to reckoning on what would be further.
Different heads and leaders of major states say that it should not be regarded as a precedent, but the experts consider that the Hague verdict entailed opening of the Pandora's Box and recognition of separatist movements all over the world. Another aspect of your question is that only within two months from the August war, the leaders of all the states, amongst the international alliances stood up for the dialogue and restoration of cooperation with Russia, i.e. the international factor in favor of Georgia should be deemed dissolved. There exists only pragmatic international policy - dialogue and close partnership cooperation with Russia.
The onset of military confrontation was preceded by multiple insensible, but amongst by one specific factor. Such was a rather notorious and naïve political tendency and propaganda of the Georgian authorities related to joining NATO by Georgia, which resulting from geostrategic location and most complex geopolitical situation of Georgia initially was an erroneous foreign policy priority.
Erroneous not because the NATO is a subject of political liking or orientation, but, firstly, the NATO Regulations clearly state that countries with problems of territorial integrity without defined borders shall not be eligible for membership, and, secondly, the political leadership of neighboring Russia at all the international levels declared expansion of NATO borders and membership of Georgia to be perilous to the national security of the Russian Federation. It's clear that at least these two factors accelerated and intensified the military confrontation, as well as gave rise to all endangering war conditions. Thus, despite of all showdowns and endless propaganda, Georgia, practically, faced its unprotected future and catastrophic results. In spite of already existing Kosovo precedent.

- Though during the last period Georgia was visited by the world leading politicians voicing in Tbilisi supporting Georgia anti-Russian declarations... the same Hillary Clinton.

- The Georgian propagandistic machine evaluates visits of the world leaders as steps in support of the Georgian authorities. This is a wrong view and propaganda signals aimed at average men and naïve people. In fact the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton are architects of the policy for renewal and reloading relations with Russia. Thus their priority stands for close cooperation and not for political and nuclear confrontation with Russia, being a very pragmatic decision of the USA new administration, as the Obama administration succeeded to the USA participation in two disastrous military actions. These are wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; inherited unresolved conflict between Palestine and Israel in the Middle East; inherited crisis in Iran.
The new administration assigned the priority to cooperation and not to the confrontation with Russia. The European Union went off the same way, moreover NATO has begun active collaboration with Russia and I'd like to make an announcement that in November during the most important NATO summit, Andres Fog Rasmussen will pronounce the following phrases - relationship with Russia has not been only restored, but we have entered the active dialogue and cooperation for developing the unified concept of security. Pointing to that during developing the world unification model, on the basis of availability of the other nomocratic grounds, after the August war the multipolar world was revealed restoring Russia in the role of super state and made the remaining world to face the fact. Such is a current international reality.

- In your opinion, what should Georgia do in the current reality of the world and what where the mistakes made that entailed as you say "major national catastrophe".

- Let's refer to what was done for restoring the territorial integrity of Georgia, long-term peace and pursuance of peace policy in the region; and admit that nothing was. Georgia came to be an experimental field of the concrete super state administration foreign policy and realization of interests, and for all the western countries - only a transit corridor for oil and gas pipelines.
The authorities of Georgia have failed to see the function and pursue the foreign policy priorities that would give Georgia the chance to the future of a united Georgian state.
Firstly, among the governmental circles emerged an idea to give Georgia a status of the Caucasian Israel. This idea was lingered over at every international level and as a result we received Georgia not in the status of Caucasian Israel, but of Georgia as a Caucasian Palestine. And if we take into consideration the contents of this political term, unfortunately we should suppose that disintegration of the Georgian territory shall not be deemed to be a closed process.
The well-known views of the theorist and practitioner Henry Kissinger pointing that there's nothing impossible in the world, and nothing is going on that has not happened in the past and will not happen in future.
I say it with pain and as a kind of prevention, as Georgia and not its current authorities must develop the system of foreign policy priorities, enabling avoidance of these threats and set up a base for future unity and integrity.
Some times ago, famous for the Georgian society name, Mathew Braiza, answering the questions of "Moscow Echo" correspondent, mentioned that, we are teaching the Georgians how to maintain the territories. To the question of surprised correspondent: - What do you mean returning Abkhazia and South Osetia? Braiza answered with apologies that this is a resolved issue, and the remaining territories were the point.
The interested person should clearly understand the threats and contents of the small passage.
The second mistake, when the present authorities of Georgia prepared political, legal, ideological and propaganda basis for the armed military confrontation, namely: by normative and legislative enactments of the President and Parliament of Georgia, in the Tskhinvali region were created two South Osetian counties. At the same time, in Kodori Gorge non-existent and never-heard Upper Abkhazia was created provoking the inevitable confrontation. One may doubt, that when the NATO Regulations clearly state that only the countries without problems of territorial integrity and defined borders are eligible to join the organization, should we suppose that the Bush Administration hawks incited Georgia to waive its two separatist regions and overcome this hindrance at any cost, even by way of war, giving chance to the remaining Georgia to join the NATO.
These were morbid opinions of different political groups and me, as a Georgian scientist and political person, blame neo-conservatives and notorious group of Dick Chane-Makkein, whose ideology and practice were and are targeted at obtaining gold package of oil monopoly and disintegration of the Georgian territory in this direction as well.
What happened was not the war between Russia and Georgia, the more it is not the war between Georgia and Osetia, or Georgia and Abkhazia. This was the USA-Russian confrontation in the territory of Georgia that during a certain period became the bone of contention between them.
I think that Georgia should develop reasonable and realistic foreign principles and priorities, ensuring the long-term peace and pursuance of peaceful-neighboring policy. At the same time, in the eastern partnership framework continue progress towards the European integration, and what is most important give rise to the direct dialogue with the Russian Federation, furthering restoration of diplomatic relations and regulation of relationship between the states. This has no alternative, and, where it is impossible to fulfill by means of direct dialogue, find the ways by any mediator, amongst by interesting the political Brussels in this direction.

- You mean that Georgia should renew relations with Russia, what will serve as basis. Save the developments two years ago, there are many negative episodes in the history of Russian and Georgian relationship, giving rise to aggressive attitude in Georgia towards Russia. . .

- Caucasia is on of the most interesting and, at the same time, complex region, and Georgia is permanently subject to the geopolitical shifts process. Today the issue of war and peace is on the agenda, and here I do not mean Georgia. I refer to neighboring countries, renewal of military confrontation between which may involve the other countries and result in long-term bloodshed. In these circumstances Georgia participating intensively in transnational projects (oil pipeline, gas pipeline, Silk Road, main line, Eurasian corridor, etc.), should carefully consider its function. We should believe ourselves and make believe the international community, that Georgia apart from the transit country and natural geographic corridor function has a more important geocivilization appointment. Namely, Georgia has a chance to become a trans-space for the dialogue and cooperation between the west and east.
As to the relationships with Russia, I've said and repeat once more that renewal of diplomatic relations with Russia has no alternative; restoration of inter-state relations with Russia has no alternative; renewal of kind neighboring relations between the Russian and Georgian people has no alternative.
It is evident, that if we consider restoration of the territorial integrity in future, here I do not mean only the territories, I mean the issue of restoration of the united Georgian state together with Osetians and Abkhazians, without restoring diplomatic relations with Russia, it's useless to discuss the regulation of the issue, consider the issue of deocupation, exchange of interests.
There is no international political resolution or restraint that would force the Russian Federation to make any changes in regard to the present status quo without dialogue and negotiations, as well as exchange of interests. This by the Georgian political mentality may be achieved with great efforts and work.
It is apparent that we'll not start relations from the clear list, we'll continue them, but will continue on the basis of reasoned, realistic pragmatic policy of exchanging mutual interests, simply called policy of kind neighbors.

- Some Russian historians and politicians blames Georgia for being ungrateful and declare that Russia has saved Georgia from the Muslim enemies, and in return received thankless position of the leaders of country, perceiving Russia as enemy and trying to join NATO...

- I shall not comment reasons of some Russian historians and politicians. I, the Georgian historian and political scientists know exactly that there's no time for comments, the Georgians were similarly "loyal" in making evaluations, amongst from political, as well as academic circles. We all were able to see that the way of demarche and confrontation is a way of downfall. We could all see that the only way is in restoration of confidence in each other and overcoming obstacles, leading to the cooperation. This is required by the future of united Georgian state, referred to as the Georgian dream.

- At present, history of the Georgian-Russian relations is being written anew. Historical relations between these two countries are considered only in the negative context. To what extent is it acceptable for you and what do you think of the scientists considering history in terms of current political situation?

- I'd say that this tendency and actions in this direction will have deplorable results. The group of scientists has developed a textbook for pupils, where the whole history of Russia and Georgia to put it mildly is presented as totally negative.
The historiography has its laws and this is done by the scientists in their research, completed with relevant conclusion. The history has its philosophic smile and sense for grotesque.
I'd like to repeat once more, nothing is going on that has not happened or will not be repeated in future.
Georgia historically had and has its heavy geopolitical burden. Georgia either was playing the role of a buffer or was a war scene of the interests of great empires or neighboring countries. Such is the new and even the recent history. The relations were becoming strained proceeding from the character of regimes, and namely: what was the regime in this country and what were its interests towards Georgia.
From this point of view let's look at Europe that in the 20th century displayed to the mankind the most merciless and terrifying movement of fascism. The Europe, that nowadays is an example democratic thought and we are striving towards the universal Europeanization in Georgia, several dozens of years it was a cradle of the most pitiless movements known to the mankind - fascism and Nazism. Thus everything may happen in the history, but let's leave it for the monographers. I'm interested what burden is this to give up the future generations for this poison, and set them against people, culture and religion of the neighboring countries. This indeed is a crime. So historians are to be blamed much, but this is done by the court historians, court political scientists. We should regard the history as a science and experience as such, and base the new reasoned policy thereon. I think this is an only way to the future.

"GHN", David Kokoshvili