Posts tagged ‘Georgia’

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

India, China, Dalai Lama: “Reflecting the Diversity of World Cultures and Civilizations”

The RIC countries’ (Russia, India, China) foreign ministers had their 9th meeting in Bangalore, India, on October 27 and 28, and last night (November 3, 22:05 GMT), All India Radio‘s (AIR) Daily Commentary pointed out that

“on the political front, cooperation between these three global powers will buttress stability, particularly in Asia. Terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, and West Asia, directly impinge on the internal security of these nations. Promoting peace and development in these areas, farming up counter-terrorism strategies, sharing intelligence and launching .. actions against money-laundring and drug-trafficking that feed international terrorism are some of the joint measures envisaged. In a joint statement after the meeting, the three countries sent a strong message to countries like Pakistan to act against terror groups like Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, listed in the UN resolution 1267. They also urge the UN member states to urgently conclude and adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. The three countries affirmed that democratization of international relations is imperative to build a multi-polar world order, reflecting diversity of world cultures and civilizations.”

The most likely link that Beijing can draw from the UN security council resolutions the RIC foreign ministers’ communiqué or joint statement refers to is the inclusion of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The United Nations  added ETIM to its “list of terrorists and terrorist supporters associated with Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network” in September 2002. According to the CDI Terrorism Project, ETIM’s global reach and links to al Qaeda are disputed. Beijing regularly and generously extends the accusation of terrorism from ETIM to other Uyghur organizations it dislikes, such as the World Uyghur Congress.
Russia’s foreign minister, too, will have returned to Moscow happily. In Moscow’s book, the RIC joint communiqué has somehow condemned Chechnyan “terrorists”, and possibly Georgian “terrorists”, too. And New Delhi has screwed Pakistan again. Of course, it’s never enough, but every bit helps to feel good.

The Joint Statement’s para 3, about a multi-polar world order, reflecting diversity of world cultures and civilizations may sound more blurred than paras 8, 12, 14, and 18. But in fact, a multi-polar world is much easier to describe or define than terrorism.
Or is it?

All India Radio’s Daily Commentary of Tuesday again:
“The foreign ministers of India and China also met to resolve the differences particularly over the border issue. The meeting, which came closely after the meeting of the heads of India and China in Thailand on the margins of the East Asia Summit, was described as fruitful. It helped India in again clarifying its stand on issues like the boundary question, and sending a message that repeated Chinese incursions into India will be detrimental to regional peace. India also informed China that the Dalai Lama is a spiritual guest in the country and free to visit Arunachal Pradesh, an integral part of India. Closer bilateral relations among the RIC countries will enhance mutual trust and set the stage for deeper trilateral cooperation on political, strategic, and economic issues.”


Wanted: Changes on the Global Supply Side, October 12 2009
India shuts out Uighur Matriarch, The Calcutta Telegraph, July 26 2009
Arunachal Pradesh and the “Disingenuous” ADB, June 23 2009
UN SC Resolution 1540 (2004)
Resolution 1373 (2001)
UN SC Resolution 1267 (1999)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey and Greece look East

India and Turkey are discussing the use of the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (TPC) pipeline as a shortcut for Russian oil supplies to India, reports Today’s Zaman. The oil from Russia is currently shipped across the Black Sea and the Turkish Straits – the latter are bottlenecks because the limit on cargo allowed to pass through the Turkish Straits is set at 130,000 tons, while ships carrying 400,000 tons of cargo can use the Port of Ceyhan in southern Turkey, according to Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Güler.

A number of common projects were discussed with Indian authorities, prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan said during his official visit to India, singling out new oil transport projects as an opportunity to bring the two nations closer together. Energy minister Güler announced meetings with his Israeli and Indian counterparts in the coming days to discuss the Ceyhan-Red Sea oil project. It would lead from Ceyhan in Southern Turkey through Ashkelon in Israel’s Southern District to Eilat on its Red Sea coast.

This will help India to avoid oil transports through Iran and Pakistan, says Der Spiegel. From the Red Sea to India, the oil will have to be shipped.

The BTC Pipeline was inaugurated in 2006, and it is the only pipeline that transports oil from the Caspian Sea to the Western countries without running through Russian territory, according to Der Spiegel.

Also in the region, China’s chairman Hu Jintao who is on a three day visit of Greece, joined COSCO CEO Wei Jiafu today for the signing of a 4.35-billion-euro (5.5 billion-dollar) deal for the 35-year concession of terminals 2 and 3 at Piraeus, Greece’s busiest port, reports Seatrade Asia Online. The terminals had so far been run by the state, and dock workers’ unions opposed the Piraeus privatization plan, according to ABC News.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Short History of German-Russian Relations

I disagree with the line of Jeroen Bult’s article that says that former chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s departure from politics was “inglorious” – his uncritical ties with Russia were and are inglorious, but he was a courageous reformer at home. Only some of his foreign policies sucked.

Otherwise, I think Bult wrote an interesting “short history” of German-Russian relations. Don’t get confused by the focus on US vice president Cheney at the beginning of the article…

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Georgia: Not all Czechs like Condoleezza Rice’s 1968 Comparison

(Related: South Ossetia, Tibet, and Xinjiang)

“This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten its neighbours, occupy a capital, overthrow a government, and get away with it”, said US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, ahead of her trip to Georgia this week.

Czech president Václav Klaus rejected the picture painted by the American government. He said that in 1968 Czechoslovakia did not attack Subcarpathian Ruthenia and in his view the pro-reform Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubček did not resemble Georgian President Saakashvili in word or deed.

Call me Jesus - Sellouts!

Call me Jesus - Sellouts!

Interestingly, not only Poland and the Baltic states, but Swedish media too (from a country that used to be neutral during the Cold War) seem to be pretty lopsided in their coverage about the crisis, according to a Radio Sweden report. The European divide between those who see both the Georgian and the Russian leadership responsible for the situation on the one hand, and those who blame Russia unilaterally on the other, seems to run from the European Union’s North-West (Britain) through Central Europe (Germany on the one hand and Poland on the other), and then to split the Czech Republic’s public opinion right in the middle.

I think that president Klaus has made an important case. This isn’t 1968 anyway, and the Bush administration’s comparisons into that direction are distortions. It is understandable that especially former Eastern Bloc countries are deeply uneasy about Russia. But to jump to conclusions simply because they seem to fit into own past experience is wrong. Besides, such comparisons belittle the struggles and achievements of these nations and people during the previous century. Saakashvili is no Dubček, no Walesa, no Václav Havel. Any such comparison with the Georgian president belittles Eastern Europe’s real democrats.

But why is Russia losing the propaganda war? The BBC’s Paul Reynolds makes an interesting case as to why some of the mud thrown exclusively into Moscow’s direction may stick so well:

“Most of the Western media is based in Georgia. The Russians were slow to give access from their side and this has helped them lose the propaganda war.” In short: Russia’s authoritarian government may never be open enough to emerge from such a conflict without disproportionate damage to their global image.

Russian journalists know that the truth can be dangerous – especially for those of them who investigate criminal cases in which the state is a big stakeholder. Anna Politkovskaya imagined her own death long before it arrived.

In China, authorities can simply lock “troublemakers” away by “administrative sentences”. Other victims of arbitrary justice go on trial for “disclosing state secrets”, and only the CCP knows in advance what, in a particular case, will spell “state secret”.

That makes it no easier for news people from outside to report accurately. But they should do their best – their job is neither to please authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, nor to please the public at home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Are borders in Europe to be sacrosanct for ever?

It has been one of the rules of post-war Europe – borders cannot be changed except by agreement, as say in Czechoslovakia. Perhaps this rule has been applied too inflexibly. Yet governments like that of Georgia are reluctant to give up any territory, even when the local population is so clearly hostile and might be in that state simply as a result of some past arbitrary decision.


Alliances must not be entered into lightly or unadvisedly. If Georgia had been in Nato, what would have happened?

Paul Reynolds, “Early lessons from South Ossetia Conflict”, BBC »

Monday, August 11, 2008

South Ossetia, Tibet, and Xinjiang

Criticise Russia’s action – or reaction – during the Ossetia crisis of recent days while talking with a Russian national, and you may get more than one response from him or her. But one tit-for-tat will almost certainly come into play: “Maybe you will think more carefully next time before recognizing statehood of another territory, like you did with Kosovo.”

One can’t consider the Russian “peace keepers” in South Ossetia impartial. But most South Ossetians probably don’t see their future within Georgia. I don’t buy Russian comparisons between Kosovo and South Ossetia, but if a majority of people wants to go, one can try to hold the territory – but in the long run, that will probably lead to an entanglement of crime and permanent repression. It may be useful to wait and see how far Russia is ready to go – to “liberate” South Ossetia and have them join the Russian federation would come at the cost of Russia’s own plausibility. And apparently, Russia’s government sees that.

Someone who doesn’t appreciate the collective Han Chinese stance on Tibet and Xinjiang shouldn’t support a Georgian idea that South Ossetia should, by all means, remain Georgian. If the price for “unity and territorial integrity” is state crime and mass repression, to let go looks like a much better choice. In the end, what people on the ground want must count – not what a central government thinks would fit into its picture.

The wide-spread European opposition to pushing Georgian [NATO] membership earlier this year was the usual desire to stay out of trouble. Although that was hardly a desire driven by a sense of justice, it was probably still right to block president Bush’s initiative to import a border conflict into the allicance. No Western country should sacrify sacrifice lives for keeping Georgia and South Ossetia together. I’m wondering if Georgia should sacrifice lives for such a goal.

How far this sad story will go is up to Georgia, too. It should show some respect for the South Ossetians, no matter to which side it will turn in the end. After all, no rule will be accepted without that kind of respect anyway. Once Georgia’s borders are defined, NATO should invite the country in. If Georgia shows no interest then, so much the better. NATO expansion should not be justified with Western security interests. Those don’t require its alliance’s expansion.

But if sovereign states with open societies consider it in their interest to join, NATO’s doors should be open. And Russia shouldn’t complain. Its own, rigid stance on “territorial integrity”, just as China’s, is in itself the best explanation as to why the North Atlantic alliance looks so attractive to so many nations that want to be – and remain – free.

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