It's not yet springtime, but already something new is in the air.
Not everywhere, thou.
On the Karabakhi-Azerbaijan contact line the exchange of fire has become an unpleasant evergreen. The only thing that seems to give it a break is the presence of the Minsk Group directly there. Usually, when some OSCE staff is there, there's not report of violations. A coincidence that underlines the urgent need to arrange some kind of - as low profile as possible - permanent monitoring. Or at least a couple of patrols of quick reaction monitoring.
So far, it's still a deep, cold and dark winter over there...
On the opposite, in western Caucasus a new interesting proposal sprang.
On the 25th January the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared Russia ready to restore diplomatic relations with Georgia.
There were remarks from Tbilisi and for the time being the thing didn't sound very promising at all.
Unexpectedly, again from the level of the presidency, a counter move from Tbilisi arrived, not in the form of a invitation, but as a concrete proposal: to lift visa rules towards all Russian citizens. There's already in force a favourable regime of visa for North Caucasians. And if this very liberal system wouldn't crash against new possible rules of restrictions of crossing - let's say, for security/anti-terrorism, or whatever -, it would mark a very positive development. Apparently, today there was a shooting close to Ganmukhuri. Let's wait for EUMM assessment about that (where there's a monitoring structure...)
It's just the beginning of March, perhaps it's too early for springtime first fruits.
And so the counter-suggestion of Moscow, to ease the law on occupied territories, turned a very pragmatical proposal in a political issue which may block the entire process.
Now the debate is around the unwelcome preconditions of the lifting, which means that the question has already moved to another level. Let's see if the twist is reversible.
But, whatever, there's something new on the list.
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