This conflict between two very different but in a sense still very similar nations - both are marked by a lack of democratic culture and their politics are built upon nationalism and false assumptions about the need for power - showed us Europeans that the phantom of war has not disappeared from our shores, that the shadow of distrust and hate has not been washed away from our lands, and that power of evil remains strong.
Putin and Medvedev as well as Saakashvilli deserve our full disrespect for what they did; they are a shame for the European continent and for the values that their countries have subscribed to as members of the Council of Europe and the OSCE!
We also shouldn't forget that this is not just about politics, it is about human beings who have been killed, it is about families disrupted, about injured souls, about lives filled with fear and anger. War is not about big man with big balls, it is about man-made weapons cutting human bodies into pieces and burning human lives into ashes.
Now, one year later, tensions are rising again in the region, although not looking as dangerous as a year ago. It makes me angry seeing this, and so I will let some else speak more calmly on the matter.
Alexander Stubb, former MEP and now Finnish foreign minister, has been the chairman of the OSCE last year and was blogging in English when he went to the region.
Yesterday, a year later, Stubb has published an article on his blog looking back and into the future:
[...] The war in Georgia shattered the European security policy configuration also at a more general level. It created tensions and persistent insecurity. [...]What Stubb writes doesn't look too encouraging, it doesn't seem that there has been much progress, and it shows the slow speed with which diplomacy moves in such cases, spending time on useless words and declarations, trying to avoid saying what needed to be said.
What does the situation in Georgia look like now on 080809?
Firstly, domestic turmoil in the country is continuing. [...] Secondly, the security situation in the conflict regions is alarming. [...]
The most significant step forward to date is the joint incident prevention and response mechanism, which involves regular meetings at local level to discuss incidents and their prevention. However, there have been stumbling blocks in its implementation. [...]
What should the EU then do to preserve stability and help Georgia out of the woods at some phase?
I see that political intervention can take place on three tracks. 1) The cease-fire must be monitored effectively and reinforced by international presence in the entire territory of Georgia. 2) The peace process must be supported and preconditions must be sought for a gradual restoration of confidence and concrete steps forward. 3) The EU must strengthen its overall support for Georgia. This will take place in the framework of the policy of the Eastern Partnership. [...]
Still, I hope for the people in the region, as well as for the whole of Europe, that our European politicians and diplomats, but even more the responsible actors in the countries and the region will be able to secure peace on our continent - and that all of you remain aware that what we have managed to create with the EU is not self-evident, but has to be defended every day and minute in order to live in peace and relative prosperity as we do right now.
Any alternative is nothing but frightening...!
Supplement: Carl Bildt, Swedish foreign minister, now co-responsible for the Swedish EU Council Presidency, and one year ago chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe, has also written about the first "birthday" of the war.
PS.: One year ago, this blog was still very young, and so the Russian-Georgian crisis pretty much dominated its early times as you can see in a number of articles from last year:
- 10 July: Rising tensions in Abkhazia
- 08 August: South Ossetia, Georgia, and Russia heading towards war
- 09 August: Blogosphere coverage of the South Ossetia war
- 09 August: South Ossetia: Poland asks for urgent EU summit
- 10 August: Self-torture: Watching "Russia Today"
- 10 August: Finnish OSCE presidency: Russia cannot be a mediator!
- 11 August: Information war: Georgian ministry "blogging"
- 11 August: The EU's many voices - Kouchner, Stubb, and Bildt
- 12 August: Georgia as single issue for EU Council
- 13 August: EU Council on Georgia: Weak conclusions
- 14 August: That is so 20th century!
- 15 August: Human Rights Watch: Violations from all sides
- 22 August: Alexander Stubb (almost) live
- 24 August: Sarkozy announces urgent EU summit on Georgia
- 25 August: The separatist agenda
- 26 August: Medvedev's vision?