Apparently, the claim of 200 violations of the ceasefire in the period 4-10 December, according to the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defence, or 11 000 in one year (Nagorno Karabakh MD) are not enough. Another Ministry of Defence, the Russian one, quotes Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigory Karazin, before the 18th Session of the Geneva Discussions: "[...] safety in the Transcaucasia region. There, it's a new situation, and there's no escape, may our partners in Geneva like it or not. The only alternative to the negotiation process that takes into account the new political and legal relations in the region can only be a new war. I hope that is aware everywhere, including in Tbilisi."
What 's the new situation? The recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian Federation or there's something more, that can be traced in the Armenian fears? The fear to be in the front line in case of an attack against Iran, for example. Perhaps not only, if this is also not enough. So, the low intensity conflict over Karabakh has now a potential twin, or more, because such an escalation in a volatile region like South Caucasus is totally unpredictable.
First of all there's the issue of the Russian military base in Gyumri, which relies on Iran as a transit area for supplies. What if they may happen to be cut? Georgia would be the only alternative. But how, predictably without an agreement between Tbilisi and Moscow? The threat of a strike against Iran (or Syria?) has already consequences. Russia is strengthening its military presence in Caucasus, on the Black Sea, on the Caspian Sea. Just in case.
What if the case from in posse becomes in esse? May be, from the same fear of possible conflicts, stems the police build up on another border, the one between Armenia and Georgia. So it's claimed by Armenia now which states that "A few days ago four more police stations have been established in Samtskhe-Javakheti (just imagine: in villages, in immediate proximity to the Georgian-Armenian border, police stations have opened with a 9-13-people staff)" (http://www.armenianow.com/news/33878/armenia_georgia_diaspora_javakhk), allegedly a measure against the Armenian minority in Georgia. What if it's true but it's a preemptive measure against a possible war?
The only question is: which war? Nagorno Karabakh, which now clearly means a potential inter-state war, Armenia/Azerbaijan, and not a secessionist conflict, or something not generated in the region, but swallowing it? Never enough?!
The way out was found in South Ossetia. On the 10th an agreement was signed between Alla Dzhoeva and Eduard Kokoity. Quite interesting in the document, Alla Dzhoeva is defined as "the leader of the opposition".If she won the election, she's not the leader of the opposition.
For sure she represent the opposition to Eduard Kokoity. But he's no longer the president. He had to resign, and she had to accept new elections. According to point 1.1 of the agreement Alla Dzhoeva pledges to "Recognize the decision of the Parliament of ROS on the convening of a new election of the President of the Republic of South Ossetia, March 25, 2012."
He resigned, but he didn't give up... few manoeuvring before leaving, to armour his future. Some supporters of Alla Dzhoeva will not like it. But so far this exit strategy is working. Tension has been defused and somehow violations had to be faced in their consequences, and no violence spread in the street of Tshkhinvali. Kokoity had pledged in the agreement, point 2.3. to guarantee with regard to their political opinion, the security and immunity to A. Dzhioeva and her supporters who participated in street actions on the Theatre Square. Ipse dixit, or I'd better say, sic subscriptum.
The acting President Vadim Brovtsev will lead the "country" till March. Let's see how Mr. Kokoity will accept this step back. For sure, he had to sign an agreement Russia guarantees for, but there's no hope to have a reasonable additional gentlemen agreement from his side, to give up all his privileges and to stop pulling strings...
Russia is no longer in trouble with the "Snow revolution" of South Ossetia, now it has to cope with its own so called "white revolution". Is there a more pleasant thing to Georgian president Saakashvili than to see Putin contested? On Dec. 12 the Georgian presidency issued the following statement: "We express our sympathy to the Russian people who are today fighting the same injustice the victim of which is not only the Russian society but also the occupied regions of Georgia. XXI century has no room for regimes that try to topple the choice of liberty of its own people and neighboring states." Ipse dixit.
The distressing mess of South Ossetian so called "Presidential elections" goes on. Is it going to be a never ending story till 25 March 2012, when new elections are supposed to be held? Or a violent twist will eventually kick Eduard Kokoiy out of the presidential chair before then?
Last week, after it was made public by the "Central Election Commission" that Alla Dzhioeva might have won with 58,86% votes, the Supreme Court, chaired by Kokoity's man Atzamaz Bichekov, decleared the vote not valid and fixed new elections for next year. Four more months of Kokoity, something that voters and Bibilov and Dzhioeva and the Kremlin aren't for sure happy about.
Dzhioeva laid her claim to the Supreme Court as well, and today Bichekov declared that her claim will be processed, in due time. But meanwhile her supporters keep on protesting. And as she seems to have fallen sick, Anatoly Barankevich is playing a more important role in going on with official meetings and negotiations.
Moscow sent Sergey Vinokurov to untie the knot. Before his arrival, Dzioeva held a meeting in the Russian Embassy in Tskhinvali, and it was her first political meeting after she had proclaimed herself the new president. From the pages of Kommersant' she pledged loyalty to Moscow, and stressed to be Russian, by passport and in her soul. It all makes more clear that this allegedly "snow revolution" is not against Russia, but against Kokoity. And that the exit strategy passes through his departure and a new resolution of the Supreme Court, may be with a new chairperson.
Dzhoeva and Barankevich have been so far not radical but firm. They are not going to be persuaded to give up that easily, even if Alla would be allowed to run for presidency next March.
An even less easy exit strategy must be found for Karabakh, not to find a political agreement, that seems right now totally out of reach, but to halt the escalation of violence. Religious leaders from Armenia and Azerbaijan took the field... Inshallah (& for God's sake!)!
MA Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures,
BA Degree in International and Diplomatic Sciences,
PhD in Democracy and Human Rights, Political Sciences.
Languages: Italian, English, Russian, Turkish.
Associate Researcher ISPI (Milan), Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, DIRE (Genoa University).
Previous work experience: Political Adviser EU Council;
EUMM Team Leader and Gender Focal Point.
Assistant Professor El Manar University, Tunis