Two years passed since last post. A lot of things changed, few issues were solved … among them not the stalemates of Nagorno Karabakh, South Ossetia, Abkhazia conflicts.
The legacy of the 90ies is obstinately there, as if the time stands still, notwithstanding new wars, efforts, recognitions, reaffirmations of territorial integrity... in the minds and in the words of the warmongers of each society, or in those of citizens so used to bellicose propaganda to be unable to distinguish between treason and reason, between wishful thinking and feasible solutions. It’s a show that repeats itself, apparently endlessly, but never fully the same. Unsolved conflicts are not really frozen. Somehow they deteriorate and, around them, the societies they affect.
Wars have two presents, as the word present itself has two meanings.
One has a time connotation. Wars in the Caucasus were present in 2008 and are present in 2010. Frozen, un-frozen, (toxically re-frozen?), all the same unsatisfactory in their outputs. It’s hard to believe that a bright future is opening to Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia as their perception of independence increases with time. Although more investments may flow in, their closed frontiers will always put them at odd with a stable system of international relations. Not to mention the total lack of (or highly partial) international recognition.
Barriers everywhere, that - in a world of huge and widening markets -, make the area look like an underdeveloping enclosed suburbia. And instead of a new “Cold war”, some observers may already sense these small scale conflicts as the peripheral disputes of “sinking ships”. For sure, the future will not bloom among tiny antagonistic communities, if anyone had such a hope, or claim.
The second meaning of present is gift.
A gift can be expected, desired, surprising or useless, unrequested, disappointing. Wars’ gifts have the special characteristic to be profoundly harmful if not lethal.
One gift is mutual mistrust. Notwithstanding the efforts of the international community to preserve or activate processes of confidence building between war affected communities and their rulers, suspiciousness by the parts is felt as compulsory, up to the point when it delegitimizes any declaration heard. When President Saakashvili on the 23rd November at the EU Parliament pronounced the following words:
The Georgian government already considers itself bound by the August 12th ceasefire agreement and has always understood that this ceasefire clearly prohibits the use of force. But-in order to prove that Georgia is definitively committed to a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Russian Federation-we take today the unilateral initiative to declare that Georgia will never use force to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty, that it will only resort to peaceful means in its quest for de-occupation and reunification. Even if the Russian Federation refuses to withdraw its occupation forces, even if its proxy militias multiply their human rights violations, Georgia will only retain the right to self-defense in the case of new attacks and invasion of the 80% of the Georgian territory that remains under control of the Georgian government. I will address the relevant letters to the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Secretary General of the OSCE, and the leadership of the European Union, stating clearly that we commit ourselves not to use force in order to reunite our illegally divided country, neither against the occupation forces, nor against their proxies, even though the UN Charter could allow us to do so. My pledge here, in front of you, constitutes a unilateral declaration of a state under international law. (full speech www.president.gov.ge/index.php?lang_id=ENG&sec_id=228&info_id=5857)
the reactions were “cautious”, so to speak:
[…] we cannot ignore the fact that Georgian leaders have often treacherously gone back on their words before. We all remember, for example, Saakashvili’s “peace-loving” televised address on August 7th, 2008, just hours before the start of the barbaric night shelling of Tskhinval.
So that any “solemn promises” of the Georgian leadership can be taken seriously only after they, as the saying goes, are put on paper and will gain legal force. (full statement www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/e78a48070f128a7b43256999005bcbb3/ad8d6067ec4f3e08c32577e5005ea7bb?OpenDocument).
Mistrust shared both by losers and winners, which makes any peaceful resolution tougher to be reached.
And for those who think that that’s the only price to pay for a victory, it would be worthy to mention another war’s present, which is nowadays troubling lives and consciences in Armenia: the number of non-combat deaths in Karabakh, where the physical and mental conditions of conscripts became - after alarming and deadly episodes - a matter of concern … and where the dyscrasia between Yerevan official position towards NK and the presence of Armenian conscripts on the ground pops up, irrepressibly.