ON US-UK POSITIONS AT THE UNITED NATIONS ON CONFLICTS IN SOUTH CAUCASUS - EXPERT
Vano Tumanishvili is a freelance journalist

Regnum, Russia
Oct 1 2006

The USA and Great Britain cannot depend on the UN arena in settling
conflicts in Moldavia and South Caucasus. Both countries, as well as
Russia, realize in detail different sides of the conflicts and have no
illusions regarding the availability of political approaches to their
solution. States-co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group and Great Britain
have had at their disposal all possible tools of exerting pressure
and coercion in the process of solving the Nagorno Karabakh problem.

Problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, of course, have not been
considered within the so much institutionalized mechanism as the
Minsk group; however, the available mechanisms also seem to be
quite adequate. Georgian conflicts have long been in the focus of
the international community. Such organizations as NATO, EU, and
EC have repeatedly spoken about and took part in the discussion of
the problems. From the very start of launching the initiative of
discussing the problems within the UN, especially as a priority,
especially after the relevant statement of the head of the Russian
Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov, - not a single leading expert, not a
single active politician in the West attempted to refute or analyze
doubts which this initiative aroused.

According to US and British experts, after such a detailed discussion
of the issues in the European structures, it is hard to imagine their
objective and close analysis at the UN that does not have mechanisms
of executing such a task in a working regime. It is suggested that the
UN has to create a special structure, a group or a commission for the
further examination of the issues, which in any case will lead to an
extended and ineffective bureaucratic process. Most unexpected events
may unfold in the process, creating quite unpleasant precedents for
the leading world powers.

British experts concede that nobody among the British and US expert
community has anything to do with the said recommendation. They
contend that after the attempts to force Armenia to accept a conflict
settlement scheme suggested by the International Crisis Group in winter
2006 failed, a certain grouping in the government of Great Britain,
headed by representative of prime minister to South Caucasus Brian
Fall, as early as in April 2006 proposed an attempt to transfer the
discussion of the Nagorno Karabakh problem to the UN.

The idea of discussing conflicts in Moldavia and South Caucasus at
the UN arose somewhat later. However, it was exactly Brian Fall who
discussed the initiative with the heads of foreign political offices
of Georgia and later Azerbaijan (exactly in this succession). Already
after the discussions, an idea of putting forward the initiative in
the UN by the GUAM countries broke the surface. Undoubtedly, the key
factor in putting forward the initiative and involving in it the US
and Great Britain is a game around the Georgian political theme.

The Nagorno Karabakh and Transdnestr factors per se play a minor or
subordinate role. It is necessary thereby to analyze the hierarchy
of tasks to be solved, by the initiators' design. The idea was also
discussed with representatives of a number of European countries
and high-ranking officials at the Council of the European Union and
the OSCE.

Great Britain, Poland, and Lithuania have reportedly conducted at
the European Commission and European Parliament a substantial work on
the issue of Russia's politics in the Georgian direction. Supposedly,
the work was rather successful. Energized effort to study the issue
has been seen at the European Commission and the European Parliament,
where the working staff received relevant instructions on preparing
suggestions on the matter.

Apparently, the suggestions include assessments of Russia's
policymaking and the situation in the Russian-Georgian relations,
including the issue of peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia and South
Ossetia. Most probably, preparation of political initiatives by the
EU concerning parallel GUAM initiatives at the UN is taking place.

The task is to ensure political solidarity of the USA and the European
Union concerning their Russian agenda.

A principal agreement between Europeans and the US on the matter is
limited by the terms of individual discussion of each initiative.

Essentially, Great Britain and countries of Eastern Europe try to
surpass positions of France and Germany and use the potential of the
European Union in their anti-Russian activities. British politicians
count that PACE and OSCE are not effective mechanisms in carrying out
the eastern politics, since Russia herself uses the arenas to defend
her own interests.

Russia tries to use PACE and OSCE for legitimate discussion of a
number of problems related to her involvement into other countries'
affairs and maintaining her presence in conflict zones. Thereby,
the European Union has been chosen, in which Russia has no formal
influence. In this regard, opinions of experts at the German Schiller
Institute that holds a rather anti-British position are of interest.

According to the experts, Great Britain suffers significant problems
with Russia on issues of oil business.

Despite good positions in Russia, British capital may face serious
problems concerning reserve redundancy and access to large oil
fields. Besides, some particular problems are apparently at issue.

For example, the US-British tandem is very concerned with the
Russian-German-French integration in the energy sphere.

Besides, the US and Great Britain are quite concerned with the
possibility of "conspiracy" on the part of Russia, Germany, France,
and, possibly, other European states regarding Ukraine, including
extending NATO. Hence, Great Britain attempts to get support of
Eastern European countries in consolidating the EU in the anti-Russian
direction. Hence, the new scenarios of pressurizing Russia are being
devised by the British politics.

These scenarios make exploring the version of the "British Caucasus
Project" as a global initiative of pressurizing Russia from the
southern strategic direction a relevant task. It is exactly in the
context of this version that the GUAM initiative at the UN has to
be assessed.

Lowering risks in the mode of maintaining tensions

Confrontation between Georgia and Russia, and, correspondingly, in the
conflict zones in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, exceeded the manageable
level and became a powerful factor of threats and risks in the South
Caucasus where the US-British energy complex functions. The European
community failed to reduce the confrontation, its many initiatives
only proved infeasibility of such efforts.

The US and UK for quite a long time led the game of suppressing
conflicts, before construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline
completed. After the project was completed, both countries attempted
to exert pressure on Russia to solve problems unrelated to South
Caucasus. The goals were earlier defined and are elements of US and
British strategies in Eurasia. For the last months, the two powers
have been carrying out the policy of inciting controlled confrontation,
which has become more than dangerous.

Russia did not concede in any direction, and did not give Georgia
or any of her partners any signs in the direction of lowering
confrontation. A decisive move became pertinent in order to transfer
responsibility for the developments in the region to such a high
arena as the UN.

Consequently, internationalization of the conflicts had to
be maximized, Russia regarded as a party to the conflicts,
and, if possible, Russia's role as a "party" to these conflicts
institutionalized. By this, an attempt to simultaneously increase
pressure on Russia, get control over the confrontation vector,
and create grounds for furthering the geopolitical and geoeconomic
expansion in the Caucasus and Caspian region was performed.

Satisfying ambitions of partner states

The USA and UK, although successfully ignored interests of their
partners in the South Caucasus, forcing on them some imitation conflict
resolution processes, cannot absolutely deprive them of favorable
expectations about the conflicts' settlement. Apart from hopes given to
the ruling elites, the elites are in their turn expected to give hopes
to their people, on which the sustainability of the ruling regimes
depends. All ruling regimes of the GUAM member countries go through
a serious political crisis and need a systemic support from abroad.

Technologies of persuasion

The US and UK have no recommendations on settling conflicts in Moldavia
and South Caucasus in the given geopolitical situation.

Forcing Armenians, Abkhazians, and Ossetians to submit to the states
concerned will lead either to resuming war or genocide -and what is
traditionally referred to as humanitarian catastrophe.

No coercion methods are available in the western community's Caucasus
policy reserve. For the most part of the history of the conflicts'
settlement, the US and UK tried to persuade Georgia and Azerbaijan that
solving the conflicts by political means was impossible and solving
them by military means - inadmissible. This is a very complex task
for the countries' western partners, for the process of discussing
the issues at the UN may become an interesting arena for persuading
the ruling teams and the peoples of Georgia and Azerbaijan that
political solutions to the conflicts are unreachable, at least in
the foreseeable future.

The US and UK, undoubtedly, have corresponding developed scenarios for
the discussion of the problems at the UN. Although detailed information
on the scenarios is so far unavailable, it can be assumed that their
designers are going to stick to the practice of imitating the process
of conflicts' settlement.

Enhancing and consolidating GUAM positions

The GUAM bloc, despite the number of attempts to make it effective and
assign to it particular geopolitical functions, has not and cannot
become effective, for it is a union of weak states, mediums of very
contradicting and mutually exclusive interests, and does not have a
strong leader. The US are trying to assign to GUAM some particular
functions, first of all, of protecting energy communications and
confronting Russia, which is not very expedient to Ukraine, Moldavia,
and Azerbaijan.

Besides, Ukraine, however started to make one-sided statements in
favor of Georgia and Azerbaijan, makes them timidly, not striving to
undertake military and political tasks to solve the problems.

Devising common political tasks for GUAM countries is an important
objective of the US policymaking. At a closed-door classified
seminar at the American Institute of Entrepreneurship (Republican and
rightist US think-tank) held in September 2006, US State Department
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky
(daughter of Ukrainian anti-Soviet nationalist) sketched the US'
goals for the GUAM. The goals envision, first of all, pulling the bloc
countries into common for all the member countries political projects,
first of all, related to creating a new political reality in Eurasia,
as well as in the security field.

Paula Dobriansky in her report contended that GUAM member countries
policymaking has to reflect policymaking of states that belong to
the democratic world. She argued that Ukraine qualifies to become
a leader of the said states, taking into account her economic and
military potential. Hence, the situation in the vast space of Eastern
Europe and Eurasia depends on the political fate of Ukraine.

Representative of the National Intelligence Council and Brookings
Institute Program Director Fiona Hill informed seminar attendants
that the security situation in the Black and Caspian Sea region was
far from normal, pendency of old conflicts required taking measures to
relieving tensions, which was impossible without active participation
of the international community.

So far, solving merely individual security issues has not led to
achieving stability in the region. The possibility of emphasizing
the roles of the UN and OSCE in relieving tensions was mentioned,
however, nothing definite was said of settling conflicts as such.

Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute Frederic Starr pointed
out that creating GUAM and other regional blocs was incapable of
solving security issues in the region.

Anyway, taking decision on the GUAM countries' accession to NATO
is necessary, upon which premise the US strategy in the region has
to be built. Any doubts in this regard cause much disappointment in
the countries of the region. According to Starr, the international
community has not been sufficiently involved in resolving conflicts
in the South Caucasus.

The seminar participants agreed that the need to involve the UN in
solving the issues has become pertinent. The seminar's objective
appeared to be affirmation of the idea to transfer the problems of
the region to the UN arena.

The problem of expanding NATO

The US advocate including Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, even if at the
cost of degrading defense, political, and economic standards accepted
in the alliance. This became a subject of principal discussion within
NATO, in which not only the leading European states, but also other
states of the alliance are involved. France and Germany, although have
not made the issue one of the priorities of their domestic policies,
i.e., have not initiated parliamentary or political discussion of
the problem, unequivocally pronounced their opinion, pointing to
the negative objectives that can be discerned behind the new stage
of expansion.

Despite the UK government and generals' support of the plan in bulk,
there are serious doubts concerning it in the British establishment,
including the ruling party politicians. According to assessments of
British liberal experts, NATO bureaucracy is inspired by the experience
of the alliance membership by states that to the moment do not meet
the alliance criteria, are not successful in participation in various
initiatives, and send military contingents to armed conflict zones.

That is, the leading NATO states are quite satisfied with the role of
the new alliance members. The contradictory positions are a source
of great concern for the US, for there are so far no hopes for a
successful accession to NATO by the new members. Expanding NATO
requires new argumentation, including substantiating new threats.

For the United States, it seems very important to convince the
international community of the reality of threats posed by Russia,
first of all, in regional directions. Russia has to appear as a country
who impedes conflicts resolution, occupies territories of states under
the pretext of maintaining peacekeeping forces, carries out political
subversion against ruling regimes, and uses energy resources for
political means. Besides, of the set goals, withdrawal of peacekeepers
from Georgia and troops from Moldavia are the priorities. The US and
UK are striving to unfold at the UN a prolonged propaganda process.

Absorbing Armenia

The US regard Armenia as a nation that has not so far chosen its
geopolitical orientation. According to confessions of US administrators
and experts, the US influence in Armenia is more significant than in
Azerbaijan and some other US partner countries.

Geopolitical blockading of Armenia with the help of the GUAM bloc
would lead the country to understanding that the western orientation
has no alternatives.

The US cannot achieve the goal and re-orient Armenia by exploiting
the Nagorno Karabakh issue. Therefore, the Nagorno Karabakh problem
is of no interest to the US from the point of view of geopolitics
and security. Americans bet on changing the geopolitical situation
in the South Caucasus.

The joint initiative of GUAM at the UN looks like multi-goal
and quite effective from the point of view of creating solidary
foreign policy. The US set no goals in the direction of Nagorno
Karabakh problem, since its development would yield no advantages
strategically. However, from the propaganda point of view, it could
create some additional arguments for the campaign. The US need to
solve some tasks on Moldavia and Georgia.

Conclusion

According to approximate estimations of British experts, joint
discussion on the Transdnestr, Abkhazian, South Ossetian, and Nagorno
Karabakh issues at the UN is impossible, even given that some working
structure will be created in the course of taking certain decisions.

The initiative has very unclear outlooks. The US and UK will not
insist on taking too uncompromised decisions.

It should not be ruled out that Georgia and Moldavia will insist on
a decision on the occupation by Russia part of their territories and
withdrawal or rotation of conflict zones' peacekeeping forces. The
goal here is to create an utterly unfavorable situation for Russia and
stage an international condemnation of her policymaking. The states
of the European Union are likely to support the anti-Russian stance
of the initiator countries and produce assessments and decisions
directed against Russia.

It should be taken into account that projecting of the South Caucasian
policy is conducted in a very secluded framework - by the staff of
EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
and US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs
Daniel Fried. That is, the planning is utterly non-participatory
and non-transparent, and almost unconnected to parliaments and civil
societies.

It has also to be taken into account that the UN decisions on conflict
issues will be taken in the situation of severe confrontation,
caused by positions of different states on the USA, for example,
by the Muslim countries' positions. Azerbaijan will apparently try
to put forward the initiative in an integrated form, by integrating
conflict issues in one problem. Georgia, undoubtedly, will attempt to
present her problems individually, on pragmatic grounds. Moldavia will
attempt not to hurry and take a mainstream of pursuing the initiative.