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«Vereniging voor de Verenigde Naties Model United Nations - Flanders, 4th Edition SIMULATION EXERCISE - November 2008 CASE 2008-2009 Negotiations in ...»

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Vereniging voor de Verenigde Naties

Model United Nations - Flanders, 4th Edition

SIMULATION EXERCISE - November 2008

CASE 2008-2009

Negotiations in the UN Security Council on the EYES

EYES

aftermath of the “Georgian-Russian War”© ONL Y

ONL Y

Case developed by Dr. David Criekemans 1,

Louis-Alfons Nobels 2 & Karen Van Laethem 3

Problem and setting

Between August 7th and August 12th 2008, hostilities broke out between the Republic of Georgia and the Russian Federation. On August 26th, Russia officially recognised the secessionist territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. This recognition was severely condemned by Georgia, NATO, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the OSCE, the United States (U.S.) and the European Union (EU).

Georgian-Russian relations have been seriously worsening since 2004, when Georgian President Saakashvili adopted a liberal reformist course, a Euro-Atlantic foreign policy orientation and an assertive approach to the protracted Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflicts. Viewing Georgia’s deepening ties with NATO, the EU and the U.S. as a threat to its security, Russia has employed a range of political and economic levers against Georgia, including economic sanctions, visa restrictions and closure of transport links. Georgia argues that Russia directly intervenes in its internal affairs by nurturing trouble with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It has criticised Moscow’s economic, budgetary and military support to the breakaway regions and has convinced many in the U.S. and the EU that neither Russia’s mediation efforts in the conflicts nor its peacekeeping troops are neutral. Moscow’s heavy- handed policies have in turn reinforced Georgia’s desire to join NATO (International Crisis Group, 2008). Russian and Georgian relations go far beyond the bilateral problems between two countries. The two countries have competing political projects and geopolitical visions Dr. David Criekemans is a Associate Professor in ‘Belgian & Comparative Foreign Policy’ at the 1 University of Antwerp (Belgium) & in ‘Geopolitics’ at both the Royal Military Academy in Brussels (Belgium) & the International Centre for Geopolitical Studies (ICGS) in Geneva (Switzerland). He also works at the Flemish Centre for International Policy (FCIP) in Antwerp (Belgium). He can be reached at david.criekemans@ua.ac.be.

2 Louis-Alfons Nobels works at the United Nations Association Flanders Belgium (www.vvn.be). He is a graduate of the Catholic University of Leuven Law faculty and is currently studying International Relations and Diplomacy. He can be reached at nobels@vvn.be or lanobels@hotmail.com.

3 Karen Van Laethem is a researcher for the Fund for Scientific Research, Flanders, at the Faculty of Law of the Free University of Brussels (Belgium). She can be reached at kvlaethe@vub.ac.be.

© 2008 – Dr. D. Criekemans, L.-A. Nobels & K. Van Laethem – The aftermath of the Georgian-Russian War 1 of the Southern Caucasus. The Southern Caucasus with its post-Soviet legacies of authoritarian rule, endemic corruption, military stockpiles, overlapping ethnic and religious fault lines, economic growth inequities, mineral wealth, and geo-strategic positioning, stand at a tipping point in their history. Without proper monitoring and support, they could become epicentres of international instability (Tim Radjy, 2006).

The Georgian-Russian conflict is divided over a number of issues including trade, espionage and energy (Ivars Indans, 2007). Most dangerously of all is the conflict on the status of the two pro-Russian breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia: although so often described as frozen conflicts, the situation in both regions, which seek independence from Georgia, has deteriorated quickly. The precedent of Kosovo heartened the leaders of the breakaway regions and spurred Georgia to take action to reintegrate its lands. In reaction to the West’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence, Russia began to institutionalize its support for South Ossetia and Abkhazia and formally lifted trade sanctions against them (Sergei Markedonov, 2008). Since the early years of independence, Georgia has been negotiating terms of political status with these breakaway regions, although the process has often reached a deadlock. The existing formats of political negotiation and peacekeeping have proved ineffective and the Georgian side has requested a comprehensive review of the entire peace process. Many factors hinder the process of conflict settlement. Topping the list are images of the other as the ‘enemy’ and a deep mistrust among the sides. A comprehensive strategy to break the deadlock needs to be devised (Archil Gegeshidze, 2008).

As conflict resolution has proven impracticable, it is now time to consider altering existing arrangements in order to prevent a further escalation of violence (Stacy Closson, 2008).

This setting forms the core of the negotiation exercise which you are about to embark upon.

A Reconstruction of the events of the “Georgian-Russian War” 4, and the confusion and rhetorical escalation in the days that followed...

There has been much confusion about the events which took place. Therefore, an overview:

• On Thursday August 7th, Georgian forces and separatists in South Ossetia agree to observe a ceasefire and hold Russian-mediated talks to end their long-simmering conflict.





Hours later, Georgian forces launch a surprise attack, sending a large force against the breakaway province and reaching the capital Tskhinvali. According to Saakashvili, the attack he launched was in response of more than 100 Russian tanks entering the country unexpectedly. In his view, Georgia only exercised its “right to self defence”.

• On Friday August 8th, Russia engages its troops and armour towards South Ossetia and engages Georgian forces in and around Tskhinvali. Russia claims it has to intervene to help its own peace keeping forces so as to stave off the “South Ossetian genocide” caused by the Georgian regime. Georgia on its part says its military bases have been attacked by Russian aircraft as Saakashvili says his forces control Tskhinvali. The separatists, for their part, say they control the city.

• On Saturday August 9th, the Georgian parliament approves a presidential decree declaring a "state of war". Russia says its troops have wrested control of the South Ossetian capital, The events of the Georgian-Russian War have been reconstructed, mostly based upon the journalistic 4 data provided by the British Broadcasting Corporation (television & radio news and website).

© 2008 – Dr. D. Criekemans, L.-A. Nobels & K. Van Laethem – The aftermath of the Georgian-Russian War 2 Tskhinvali, from Georgian forces. Russian planes attack military targets in the central town of Gori, close to South Ossetia.

• On Sunday August 10th, Georgia says it has ordered its troops to begin a ceasefire, that its forces have withdrawn from South Ossetia and that the Russians are fully in control in the region's capital, Tskhinvali. But Russia says clashes are continuing, and it launches fresh bombing raids near Tbilisi. Russian warships are deployed near ports along the Georgian Black Sea coast, including Poti, where Georgian officials say wheat and fuel shipments are being blocked. Meanwhile, the separatist authorities in Georgia's other breakaway region of Abkhazia announce a full military mobilisation, saying they have sent 1,000 troops to drive Georgian forces from their only remaining stronghold in the Kodori Gorge. Meanwhile, the US government deplores the "disproportionate and dangerous escalation" by Russia in the conflict and warns it could have a "significant" longterm impact on U.S.-Russian relations.

• On Monday August 11th, Russian and Georgian forces both continue operations with reports of Russian air attacks against Georgian targets close to South Ossetia and nearer to Tbilisi. Moscow accuses Tbilisi of ignoring its own self-declared ceasefire and attacking the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. European diplomats meet Georgia's president in Tbilisi, convincing Saakashvili to sign a draft ceasefire agreement. Russian officials reject the ceasefire before the diplomats even arrive, accusing Georgia of continued bombardments of South Ossetia. Georgian officials then claim that Russian troops have moved south from the region and "captured" Gori in central Georgia.

Elsewhere, tensions are rising in Abkhazia. Russia deploys thousands of troops to the region and later moves from Abkhazia deep into Georgian territory.

• On Tuesday August 12th, Russian-backed rebels in Abkhazia announce the beginning of operations against Georgian troops in the Kodori Gorge area. Then, ahead of a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announces that his forces will end their operation in Georgia, claiming that Russia's aims have been achieved. Later, Medvedev holds a joint news conference with Sarkozy in Moscow to say Russia has agreed a six-point peace deal. Under the plan, both sides would agree not to use force, and all troops would return to the positions they held before the beginning of the hostilities. Sarkozy travels to Tbilisi, where he and Saakashvili announce that Georgia also accepts a ceasefire.

• The days following the “Six Day War” from August 7th till 12th were bewildering, and show an escalation in rhetoric and confusion about the situation on the ground.

• On Thursday August 21st, Russia tells NATO it is suspending all military co-operation.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was not shutting the door to future co-operation, but that NATO had to decide what was more important to it - supporting Georgia or developing a partnership with Russia. Separatist leaders of Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia urge Russia to recognise their independence, as thousands attend proindependence rallies in both territories. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow's response to their pleas would depend on the conduct of Georgian President Saakashvili. Russia says it will keep troops in a security zone around South Ossetia, establishing eight checkpoints at which 500 peacekeepers will be deployed.

• On Friday August 22nd, Russia says it has completed its withdrawal of troops from Georgian territory - but Georgia, France and the US say it continues to violate the terms of a ceasefire deal. Earlier in the day, large columns of Russian armour leave Georgian territory for the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia's Deputy Chief of General Staff, Gen Anatoly Nogovitsyn, says that nearly 2,600 troops, with

–  –  –

This could mean US and Russian forces coming face-to-face… © 2008 – Dr. D. Criekemans, L.-A. Nobels & K. Van Laethem – The aftermath of the Georgian-Russian War 4 Historical and Geopolitical Background (1): a brief history of the Southern Caucasus Background The Caucasus region is conventionally divided into two parts separated by the Caucasus mountain chain. The Southern Caucasus exists out of the new independent states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Whereas the Northern Caucasus is one of the seven large Russian federal regions, and includes the seven federal entities of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachai-Cherkessia, and Adygea. Both sub-regions are distinct, but interlinked through cultural, historical, ethnical, and strategic dynamics. The Caucasus region has, however, never developed functional regional institutions or a shared political identity. The region is linked to the Middle East geographically, and by being a socalled ‘fault line’ between Christian and Islamic civilization; to Europe by institutions (the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE), the Council of Europe, the EU, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and the Partnership for Peace (PfP); and to the Russian north by economic dependencies and complex cultural and demographic affiliations (Craig Nation, 2007).

The Caucasus is plagued by many of the typical dilemmas of post-Sovietism, including incomplete nation-building, cultural disorientation, deeply rooted corruption, socioeconomic and environmental disintegration, regional conflict and separatism, fragile democratization, and flourishing criminal networks. In the post-Soviet period, the Caucasus region has become one of the most volatile and potentially unstable regions in world politics with four unresolved armed conflicts in place, all related to the attempt by small, ethnically defined enclaves to assert independence from larger metropolitan states (the cases of Chechnya, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh). Unresolved ‘frozen conflicts’, continued armed resistance in secessionist Chechnya and associated Islamic radicalism, the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia, competition for access to oil and gas in the Caspian basin,…, demonstrate the ongoing political, economical, and ethnic tensions in the region (Craig Nation, 2007).

© 2008 – Dr. D. Criekemans, L.-A. Nobels & K. Van Laethem – The aftermath of the Georgian-Russian War 5 Thus, the Caucasus is a region with important oil and natural gas holdings, characterized by a great amount of instability, diverging political implications, and a large number of unresolved local disputes. The states of the Southern Caucasus are weak and actively have courted the support of great power sponsors — the competitive engagement of external powers is a significant part of the region’s security profile. For almost a century, Russia has considered the region of the Southern Caucasus as its own. The recent wave of local regime changes is a blow to its international prestige and a challenge to its authoritarian practices.



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