Abkhazia, Ossetia: pro-Moscow separatists more 'conciliatory' towards Tbilisi
Situation at the border noticeably calmer. In Georgia there is political chaos over the approval of a controversial 'foreign agents' law. There are no illusions about prospects for reconciliation and recognition of separations. Engaged in Ukraine, the Russians want to keep the Caucasian front calm.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - In recent days, representatives of the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, under Russian protection, have expressed unprecedented praise for Tbilisi's political choices.
The positive comments came at the same time as the much-discussed 'foreign agents' law was proposed in Georgia, which is causing large street protests. The separatists believe that relations with their neighbours are also improving at this stage.
The head of the Ossetian delegation for border control, Egor Kočilev, spoke from Ergneti, the village where the meetings with Russians and Georgians for the prevention of border incidents (the so-called Mpri format) are held, saying that 'in the last month and a half the situation has been the calmest for a long time'.
In turn, the president of Abkhazia, Aslan Bžanja, said at a press conference in Sukhumi that 'the current leadership of Georgia is proving to be able to keep the situation under control'.
Statements of support for the 'pro-Russian course' of policy in Tbilisi only increase tensions in Georgia, echoing Kremlin propaganda. Kočilev emphasised that 'no incidents have occurred since 17 January, we have not had to stop anyone for infringements or violations on the Georgian side, as had been the order of the day all these years.
We only noticed a few drones passing from one side to the other, but the Georgian policemen and soldiers also behaved well'.
Until now, the separatists had always kept polemical tones towards the Georgians, but the Ossetian political scientist Vjačeslav Gobozov tries to deny the propagandistic nature of the turnaround: "These are the usual conspiracy theories, although certainly in Tsinkhval and Sukhumi they appreciate the latest choices of a government that is not considered the best possible, but at least manages to contain an unbearable opposition. There are no illusions about prospects for reconciliation and recognition of separations, but 'if nothing else, the current leadership in Tbilisi is not talking about a military solution to the problems'.
It is therefore not a tendency towards appeasement that inspires the Georgian Dream Government, but 'a more conscious assessment of how much Russia influences regional politics', says Gobozov.
According to the academic, it is not the Kremlin that is 'giving orders' to the two self-proclaimed republics, where there is a division over the maintenance of autonomy or annexation to the Russian Federation. the political scientist believes that Kočilev's statements are rather aimed at enhancing the agreements on the Mpri format, trying to involve international institutions such as the OSCE, UN and EU in order to obtain confirmations that would truly stabilise the border situation with the former motherland, reviving negotiations between the parties.
International Crisis Group analyst Olesja Vartanyan basically confirms Gobozov's version, whereby Tsinkhvali and Sukhumi's distensive statements are directed at the upcoming Geneva meetings to discuss the borders with Georgia.
It has recently been proposed to move the next meetings to Moscow, which could push Georgia to lean more towards western support, against the background of the war with Ukraine, and the separatists want to show Tbilisi that they do not want to escalate tensions.
Vartanyan notes that 'in general, the situation in the border areas has become increasingly stable since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, as observed not only by international mediators but also by representatives of the parties involved, and arrests and controls have also been resolved without too many problems'.
Evidently, Russia has every interest in not having to worry about the problems in the Caucasus as well, while it is engaged in the invasion of Ukraine, and in Georgia, too, it wants to avoid ending up in the maelstrom of war.