Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
-
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home  > International Relations in the Age of Empire  > Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia on  Why Russia recognised independence of  South Ossetia and Abkhazia

International Relations
in the Age of Empire

Why Russia recognised independence of  South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia

Financial Times, 28 August 2008

Comment by tamilnation.org It should not be a matter for surprise that President Dmitry Medvedev makes no mention of the relevance of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia to the decision taken by Russia.

Nor does President Dmitry Medvedev refer to the matters that Professor Saul Landau mentions in 'The Georgian Dogs Of August - Or Shmucks Of Our Time'

"... President Medvedev has stopped the "well-intentioned" West from reducing Russian power. In Eastern Europe, NATO had already absorbed six former Soviet bloc states and three former Soviet Republics... Western capital and diplomacy steered a Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia. No Russian participation - or profit.Western capital and political know how poured into Ukraine and Georgia to usher in "democratic revolutions" - anti-Russian.. The question is: has the Russian military move taught the West a lesson or will Bush and his successor push until an even more dangerous "incident" occurs?"

Whilst President Dmitry Medvedev's support for the self determination of peoples is to be welcomed, we are reminded of the words of Rupert Emerson in From Empire to Nation - The Rise to Self-Assertion of Asian and African Peoples, 1960

"...All too often self-determination is a right to be defended in lofty terms when it is politically advantageous and to be rejected when it is not. Despite occasional surface appearances to the contrary, the issue is not one which divides East and West in any of the meanings of that geographical expression... whatever answer the statesman or the philosopher may give to this question, the working answer is presumably the same: if other peoples, no better qualified for it than we, have been allowed to clutter up the international stage, why should a new set of rules now suddenly be invoked to deny us our equal right?... Neither the skeptical sophisticate nor the perturbed statesman has had any significant bearing on the revolutionary drive of peoples to achieve their independent destiny in their own fashion..."

We are also reminded of something that Dr Colin J Harvey said in 2000 -

"..International law is political. There is no escape from contestation. Hard lessons indeed for lawyers who wish to escape the indeterminate nature of the political. For those willing to endorse this the opportunities are great. The focus then shifts to interdisciplinarity and the horizontal networks which function in practice in ways rendered invisible by many standard accounts of law. This of course has important implications for how we conceive of law's role in ethnic conflict. We must abandon the myth that with law we enter the secure, stable and determinate. In reality we are simply engaged in another discursive political practice about how we should live."

Finally, we are reminded about that which the  Leader of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai Pirapaharan said on Maha Veerar Naal in 1993

´┐ŻEvery country in this world advances its own interests. It is economic and trade interests that determine the order of the present world, not the moral law of justice nor the rights of people. International relations and diplomacy between countries are determined by such interests. Therefore we cannot expect an immediate recognition of the moral legitimacy of our cause by the international community... In reality, the success of our struggle depends on us, not on the world. Our success depends on our own efforts, on our own strength, on our own determination..."


Last Tuesday Russia recognised the independence of the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It was not a step taken lightly, or without full consideration of the consequences. But all possible outcomes had to be weighed against a sober understanding of the situation - the histories of the Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples, their freely expressed desire for independence, the tragic events of the past weeks and inter-national precedents for such a move.

Not all of the world's nations have their own statehood. Many exist happily within boundaries shared with other nations. The Russian Federation is an example of largely harmonious co-existence by many dozens of nations and nationalities. But some nations find it impossible to live under the tutelage of another. Relations between nations living "under one roof" need to be handled with the utmost sensitivity.

After the collapse of communism, Russia reconciled itself to the "loss" of 14 former Soviet republics, which became states in their own right, even though some 25m Russians were left stranded in countries no longer their own. Some of those nations were unable to treat their own minorities with the respect they deserved. Georgia immediately stripped its "autonomous regions" of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of their autonomy.

Can you imagine what it was like for the Abkhaz people to have their university in Sukhumi closed down by the Tbilisi government on the grounds that they allegedly had no proper language or history or culture and so did not need a university? The newly independent Georgia inflicted a vicious war on its minority nations, displacing thousands of people and sowing seeds of discontent that could only grow. These were tinderboxes, right on Russia's doorstep, which Russian peacekeepers strove to keep from igniting.

But the West, ignoring the delicacy of the situation, unwittingly (or wittingly) fed the hopes of the South Ossetians and Abkhazians for freedom. They clasped to their bosom a Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, whose first move was to crush the autonomy of another region, Adjaria, and made no secret of his intention to squash the Ossetians and Abkhazians.

Meanwhile, ignoring Russia's warnings, Western countries rushed to recognise Kosovo's illegal declaration of independence from Serbia. We argued consistently that it would be impossible, after that, to tell the Abkhazians and Ossetians (and dozens of other groups around the world) that what was good for the Kosovo Albanians was not good for them. In international relations, you cannot have one rule for some and another rule for others.

Seeing the warning signs, we persistently tried to persuade the Georgians to sign an agreement on the non-use of force with the Ossetians and Abkhazians. Saakashvili refused. On the night of August 7-8 we found out why.

Only a madman could have taken such a gamble. Did he believe Russia would stand idly by as he launched an all-out assault on the sleeping city of Tskhinvali, murdering hundreds of peaceful civilians, most of them Russian citizens? Did he believe Russia would stand by as his "peacekeeping" troops fired on Russian comrades with whom they were supposed to be preventing trouble in South Ossetia?

Russia had no option but to crush the attack to save lives. This was not a war of our choice. We have no designs on Georgian territory. Our troops entered Georgia to destroy bases from which the attack was launched and then left. We restored the peace but could not calm the fears and aspirations of the South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples - not when Saakashvili continued (with the complicity and encouragement of the US and some other Nato members) to talk of rearming his forces and reclaiming "Georgian territory". The presidents of the two republics appealed to Russia to recognise their independence.

A heavy decision weighed on my shoulders. Taking into account the freely expressed views of the Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples, and based on the principles of the United Nations charter and other documents of international law, I signed a decree on the Russian Federation's recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I sincerely hope that the Georgian people, to whom we feel historic friendship and sympathy, will one day have leaders they deserve, who care about their country and who develop mutually respectful relations with all the peoples in the Caucasus. Russia is ready to support the achievement of such a goal.

 

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