Georgian President Shevardnadze promises to solve the Pankisi Gorge problem

With Russia’s help, however

The president of the former Soviet republic of Georgia released a statement today, saying that Georgia was capable of solving the Pankisi Gorge problem alone. Georgia has been watching the situation for a long period of time. A recent terrorist raid forced the Georgian government to finally acknowledge that there is such a problem. They finally realized the need to deal with th Pankisli Gorge.

Georgia has taken steps to exclude any kind of exterior help. Exterior help definitely implies Russia, because it is the biggest problem for Russia, first and foremost. Russian officials have stated many times that Georgia is unable to do anything about the Pankisi Gorge alone. Russia offered its military help, but Georgia started dealing with it on itself, afraid of such a sudden turn of events.

Foreign Minister of Georgia Irakly Menagarishvily said that Georgia would accept Russian help with its struggle against the terrorists. However, it was added that any kind of military joint operation was out of the question.

The Council of Elders of the Pankisi Gorge recently addressed the government, requiring the immediate deployment of the Georgian army. The elders believe that this is the only way to establish law and order there. Georgian troops have been reportedly deployed; Georgia started to act.

President Shevardnadze said in an interview to a Georgian radio station that he was “well-aware of the sense of the Pankisi Gorge problem, which is such a big concern for our Russian colleagues.” Shevardnadze believes that Georgia is not at fault: “It is one of the tragic consequences of the Chechen events.” The Georgian president promised that he would do his best to solve the problem only if it will not result in another hotspot on Georgian territory.

In the interview, Shevardnadze also stressed that the USA is showing great interest in everything that is going on in Georgia. He added that the United States will not turn a blind eye in the case that Russia grows very persistent with its offer of military help.

The Wall Street Journal published an article by Vladimir Sokor of the Jamestown Group. He wrote about Russian officials who compared their possible military intervention in the Pankisi Gorge to America’s actions in Afghanistan and Israel’s policy on the West Bank. Sokor believes that these things cannot be compared. America struggles with international terrorism, whereas Russia pokes its nose in the gorge only because of its imperial ambitions. Sokor thinks that such interference can be considered as Moscow’s attempt to retrieve its domineering position and punish Georgia's pro-Western leaders.

Shevardnadze totally supports Sokor’s opinion. He said in his interview to the newspaper China's Youth, “For 200 years, Georgia was a part of the Russian Federation, then of the Soviet Union, and it is hard for Russia to come to terms with the current situation. Now, Russia is taking a more realistic position.”

Sergey Borisov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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