Georgian President Disappointed His Citizens
CIS Leaders Summit of November 30 in Moscow coincided with 10 anniversary of this organization. “If we consider Shevardnadze’s attitude, then celebration won’t last long. He is going to make things clear with Putin openly” – wrote Russian Internet paper Gazeta.ru on November 30 mornings.
The summit was preceded by Russian jet fighters and military helicopters ride to Georgian territory on November 27-28. The warplanes bombed Pankisi and Arkhoti gorges. Fortunately there were no casualties. Russian aircraft violated Georgian airspace over Mestia and Kodori as well. US Department of State confirmed the fact of violation and condemned such aggressive actions of Russia.
Shevardnadze was expected to make critical statements even in Tbilisi, but these expectations turned to be empty. CIS 10th Anniversary Summit, held right after the bombing incident, went as usually and monotonously, as it did during the previous years.
“I believe that the Russian Government did not know about this facts and these are just errors of certain military authorities” – said Shevardnadze at the Summit, commenting the bombing of the Georgian territory. Shevardnadze has been confirming this kind of approach to the issue even before visiting Moscow. Russian media regarded above statement by Georgian President as a chance, given to Putin to recognize mistake of the Russian side and apologize. However, it happened opposite way.
“If there was a bombing of a populated area, but there were no casualties, what kind of bombing was it?” – replied Putin to Shevardnadze. He confirmed position of the Russian officials saying that there was a clash between Chechen and Arab fighters in result of which weapons storehouse exploded.
“There are drug labs, even factories in Pankisi. Drugs from there are poisoning our citizens on whole territory of the CIS” – said Putin to all leaders of the CIS gathered at the Summit. Shevardnadze left Putin’s words unanswered. But he could at least deny them.
At the final press conference of the Summit, Putin rather cynically mentioned that Chechen and Arab terrorists actually are occupying the northern territory of Georgia.
Putin said that creation of investigation commission for the bombing incident would be very hard for this commission to work and even might fail, because the terrorist-controlled Pankisi gorge is no-go area for the Georgian government.
Putin’s tone and attitude did not change during tete-a-tete meeting of the two presidents. Neither Putin nor Shevardnadze made any comment for press after the meeting. However, at the press conference in the Georgian Embassy Shevardnadze said that meeting with Putin went in “frankly and friendly” atmosphere and was very fruitful.
At the same press conference Georgian President said that he is not hasty with withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers with CIS mandate from Abkhazian conflict zone. But it should be mentioned that before the summit, the Parliament of Georgia adopted decision regarding withdrawal of these peacekeepers form Georgia.
When Georgia makes significant concessions towards Russia, ‘friend countries’ offer support. Group of Georgia’s ‘friend countries’ declared readiness to give Georgia necessary military equipment to secure its airspace. Georgian armed forces, encouraged with this promise, already dispatched units to Pankisi to control the air border.
By Givi Ordenidze, Civil Georgia