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Research Report

Post-Conflict Georgia

David L. Phillips
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2008
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 42
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. i-i)
    Frederick Kempe

    Shortly after the release of the Atlantic Council’s report, Restoring Georgia’s Sovereignty in Abkhazia, Russia invaded Georgia and war broke out over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. The United States and its European partners were put to the test; Moscow’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia not only challenged Georgia’s sovereignty, but by demonstrating its willingness to use military action, Moscow also sent a message about Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations as well as the viability of energy transport projects running from the Caspian, through Georgia, to western markets.

    In this light, the Atlantic Council considered it a matter of urgency...

  2. (pp. 1-2)

    War between Georgia and Russia erupted on August 7, 2008. In response to Russian and South Ossetian provocations, Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili shelled and ordered Georgian troops into Tskhinvali, South Ossetia’s capitol. By August 9, Russia’s carefully planned land, air, and sea assault had overwhelmed Georgia’s armed forces. Operations extended from the port of Poti in the west to Gori just 40 km from Tbilisi.

    Ossetian militias, often in collusion with the Russian military, burned and looted Georgian villages around Tskhinvali¹ and on the road to Gori.² Approximately 90 percent of villages in the buffer zone were damaged or destroyed.³...

  3. (pp. 3-4)

    By unilaterally recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia violated Helsinki Principles that require mutual agreement to redraw internationally recognized borders. Russia is increasingly isolated by its disregard for international law. Not only did it violate the UN Charter by attacking a sovereign state. Now it has also tried to carve up its territory. To date, only Nicaragua has taken steps to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. China and other partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organizations have rebuffed Russia’s entreaties.⁷ Even Moscow’s erstwhile ally, Belarus, has refused recognition.

    Realistically Georgia has no hope of restoring its control in Abkhazia or South...

  4. (pp. 5-6)

    The international community has rallied in support of Georgia. During the first days of the conflict, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided $250,000 for emergency relief supplies and U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi released $1.2 million worth of disaster packages.10 In addition, U.S. military air and sea transports delivered life-saving supplies of food and emergency rations. By August 22, the EU sent €6 million and European countries provided an additional €8.4 million.11

    After Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) sponsored legislation authorizing $1 billion for relief and reconstruction, the United States unveiled a $1.07 billion aid package.12 More than half, $576...

  5. (pp. 7-8)

    The IDP population is still in flux. According to Georgian government figures, 68,000 IDPs have returned to their homes. The remaining 54,000 are in 264 collective centers (down from 600). IDPs come from ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia, villages in Russia’s self-declared security zone around South Ossetia, and other parts of the country affected by violence.

    The ICRC continues to receive tracing requests from people whose relatives are unaccounted for, as well as separated families who want to be reunited or exchange news with their loved ones. Its efforts are also focused on the elderly and chronically ill in...

  6. (pp. 9-10)

    The conflict resulted in about $1.2 billion in damages to the civilian economy. This includes damages to roads ($150 million), destruction of civilian infrastructure and private property ($350 million), crops and farmland ($100 million), and environmental damage ($200 million) from oil spills in the Black Sea and forest fires in the Borjomi- Kharagauli and Ateni Valley. Increased shipping costs were $100 million. Loss of fiscal revenue is estimated to be $300 million (August-December 2008).

    The conflict also created a crisis in investor and consumer confidence. Despite prudent fiscal policy, Georgia’s economy will fall to between 5-6 percent this year, half...

  7. (pp. 11-12)

    Russia targeted both military and civilian infrastructure during its attack on Georgia. Its bombing raids hit the port at Poti on the Black Sea, the military airport near Tbilisi, and military bases across the country. The railway line carrying 80 percent of Georgia’s freight traffic was blown up. The demolition of a bridge that spans the Kvari river about 40 km west of Tbilisi cut the main east-west rail link from Poti and Batumi to the Georgian capital, and beyond to Armenia and Azerbaijan.23 Despite initial interruptions in flight and railway traffic, transport and logistics including port traffic was operating...

  8. (pp. 13-14)

    Post 9/11, Georgia emerged as a high-value ally to the Bush administration. The Pentagon launched a 20-month and $64 million Train and Equip Program to enhance Georgia’s counter-terrorism capabilities (April 29, 2002). The Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program immediately followed, lasting 18 months and valued at $60 million. Security cooperation extended to Iraq; Georgia was one of the first countries to join the multinational force in Iraq, and more than doubled its troop level from 850 to 2,000, making it the third largest troop contributing country in the coalition (March 2007).

    Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment...

  9. (pp. 15-16)

    Georgia is a new democracy with weak democratic institutions and a shallow democratic culture. At the NAC meeting in Tbilisi, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stated, “You are a democracy. Start acting like one.”28 Echoing the Secretary General’s concern, a senior diplomat in Tbilisi wonders whether the Georgian government has “the political will for democratization and the rule of law.”29

    In 2004, Saakashvili pushed through a new constitution that strengthened executive power and weakened the parliament. Democracy advocates welcomed Saakashvili’s recent presentation to the parliament laying out his democracy agenda (September 16, 2008). However, they insist that Saakashvili should be judged...

  10. (pp. 17-18)

    Georgia and Russia have severed diplomatic relations. Even Georgia’s consulate in Moscow is closed, which creates problems for an estimated half million ethnic Georgians living in Russia, as well as Georgians with dual citizenship. The Georgian government is adamant that it cannot resume relations with Russia as long as Russian armed forces remain in Abkhazia and South Ossetia at levels exceeding pre-war totals. Russia’s disparaging of Saakashvili also makes resuming relations difficult.

    International mediation will be required for the foreseeable future. Internationalization serves Georgia’s interests, especially when it comes to security and status issues. It also has pitfalls. The EU...

  11. (pp. 19-20)

    The mediation process will engage international actors in the broad spectrum of post-conflict issues facing Georgia and the region. Consistent with its role to date, the EU will continue to take the lead. The United States must, however, play a robust behind-the-scenes role in order to ensure a dynamic and ultimately effective process.

    This report is not the place to evaluate Sarkozy’s performance. Suffice it to say that France, on behalf of the EU, has been energetic in addressing the Georgia crisis. Sarkozy’s efforts have been supported by most EU member states. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe have been...