mardi 12 août 2008

The War in South Ossetia: Whose fault is it?

Who is to blame for what is going on in South Ossetia?

First, responsibility for this drama, of course, lies with the countries who recognized the self-proclaimed independent state of Georgia without also recognizing the self-proclaimed independent state of South Ossetia (the same is true for Abkhazia) and without demanding any kind of guarantees for minorities before recognizing the republics that claimed sovereignty upon the dissolution of the USSR. Recognition of a newly drawn international border suddenly dividing the Ossetian people (in 1991) could not prevent this people from dreaming of its reunification.

Second, responsibility for the drama lies with the European countries who rewarded Croatia for its attack and conquest of Krajina and Western Slavonia, both supposedly protected by UN peacekeepers (UNPROFOR). The admission of Croatia into the Council of Europe in 1996, just one year after Operation Storm, i.e. the expulsion by the neo-Nazi Tudjman regime of 10% of the total population of Croatia, who happened to be minority Serbs, not only guaranteed that the declared wish to return by the refugees would never be realized but also constituted encouragement for any new self-proclaimed state wishing to deprive its minorities of civil rights or even expel them militarily, as well as encouragement for the self-proclamation of "ethnically pure" states.

Third, responsibility lies with Russia for not having recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia when other big powers recognized the independence of the Albanian diaspora regime in Kosovo, which led Georgia to the conclusion that Russia cared more about maintaining good relations with the USA and NATO than about protecting Ossetian and Russian citizens.

And, of course, direct responsibility lies with the country that provided Georgia with weapons, military planning capabilities, diplomatic support, the promise of military backing and the commanding officers who were so efficient in Croatia in 1995; without these, the president of Georgia would never have launched an offensive that would inevitably result in the deaths of some Russian peacekeepers.

Ultimately, a part of the responsibility also lies with the members of the Security Council who on at least two occasions refused to vote (or voted against) a proposed resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and the return of all forces to their positions as of last Thursday, thus demonstrating their official support for the military offensive launched by the Georgian government.

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