Georgia's President Saakashvili delivers something like a declaration of war against Abkhazi and Ossetian separatists
Last Thursday, January 25, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili used some very
tough language during his third anniversary address. The speech casts disturbing
shadows over the future of his nation, which has become the front line of the
“New Cold War” between the US and Russia. Georgia is becoming for Russia what
Cuba has long been for the US, “the enemy in the back yard.”
“A new Dodgori.”
“When I became president three years ago,” said the young nationalist, pro-western
president, “Georgia was on its knees. Since then we have risen to our feet and
learned to stand upright and strong. Now no one can knock us over. We have regained
our power and we are ready to set out toward our ultimate goal: national reunification.
We shall be the generation to create a new Dodgori (the epic, 12th century victory
of Georgian forces that re-established national unity – ed.). We shall be remembered
by future generations, a generation that doesn’t back down before the titanic
and nearly unfathomable obstacles Georgia will have to face in order to prevail.”
Enemies to Battle.
Saakashvili left no doubt as to what these obstacles are: “Abkhazia, the most
beautiful part of our country, is always in our thoughts. 80 percent of the houses
have been destroyed and burned and the people who should be living there have
been driven away by those now governing the region, who outrageously declare that
they will never permit the return of the people whose ancestors are buried in
Abkhazian soil. We shall never tolerate this situation! The same goes for our
beloved region of Tskhinvali (Ossetia – ed.), whose population is held hostage
by a gang of criminals.” The speech sounds a lot like a declaration of war against
Abkhazian and Ossetian separatists who are supported by Russia, who uses them
to maintain control over the “Cuba of the Caucasus.” The president’s speech comes
at a worrisome moment of escalation of tension, with both sides claiming to be
provoked by the other.
They’re Shooting Again.
Three days after the Georgian president’s speech, on the morning of January
28, they began shooting again in South Ossetia. Georgian soldiers from the village
of Nikozi attacked a roadblock set up by an Ossetian separatist militia, wounding
three people, one of them critically. The next night a firefight took place, this
time without victims, between Georgian soldiers and Ossetian militants in the
village of Ergenti, near Tskhinvali. It is not known who shot first, but reports
indicate that the Georgian forces were a special commando trained by US military
Tension is high also in Abkhazia, especially in the Gali district, where on January
5 one Georgian policeman was killed and another wounded in an attack by separatist
militants in the village of Ganmukhuri. The attack was apparently a reprisal for
the killing on last December 25 and 26 of three Abkhazi separatists, including
two well-known commanders.