Georgian army ousts Russian military men, expects US forces to arrive instead

The US administration promises to ease the tense situation in Georgian hotspots

Less than a month is left before US President George W. Bush makes an official visit to Georgia, the former republic of the former Soviet Union. George Bush is expected to arrive in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, on May 10th. The Georgian government apparently hopes to win the support from the central figure of the American White House, especially on the issue of future relations with neighboring republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The head of Georgia's parliamentary committee for defense and security, Givi Targamadze, said that there was an idea to invite the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Tbilisi as well. “Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is ready to have a meeting with Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoita in Tbilisi, during the time of George W. Bush's visit,” Targamadze said.

It is worth mentioning that the US president's advisor for Eurasian issues, Steven Mann, has recently visited the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia too. According to Mann, the trip to Abkhazia was not connected with Bush's forthcoming visit to Georgia. Spokespeople for the State Chancellery of Georgia, however, said quite the opposite: Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh, Steven Mann and US Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Miles, discussed an opportunity to hold the meeting between the above-mentioned leaders with the US President in Tbilisi.

Sergei Bagapsh said on Tuesday that a visit to Tbilisi was out of the question. Bagapsh added that no one had put forward a suggestion to meet the American president. “This question is not on agenda, no one has offered me that. We have our own mediator to solve the problem – Russia. Yet, we are ready to negotiate with the USA and England – with everyone, if it brings good to the process,” the Abkhazian president stated.

The Georgian authorities reacted to Bagapsh's statement immediately. Givi Targamadze, the chairman of the defense and security committee of the Georgian government, mentioned the growing potential of the Georgian army. “The Georgian Army is capable of taking the entire territory of South Ossetia under its control,” Targamadze said Tuesday in an interview with TV company Mze.

”By the end of the year our armed forces will be able to take Sukhumi [the capital of Abkhazia]. As far as the myth about the invincible Russian army is concerned, the myth has been repeatedly broken,” the head of the parliamentary committee said.

According to Targamadze, the Georgian army will achieve the potential by the end of 2005, which will enable it to respond not only to separatists, but also to those behind their backs.  Givi Targamadze added that Georgia would not start an offensive action against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “However, if provocations occur, Georgia will respond accordingly,” said he.

One should not take the words from the Georgian parliamentarian literally. Even if the Georgian government agrees to retrieve Abkhazia and South Ossetia in its territory, the endeavor will not work. There will be a big reason for it: oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan is to be put into operation this year. It is an open secret that the USA lays big hopes on the Caspian oil. If the situation in Georgia destabilizes even slightly, it will lead to lamentable consequences to oil deliveries from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. No matter how strong the Georgian army might be, it will be able to exercise its power to Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, maybe: the minister is known for his fondness for military exercises.

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Author`s name Olga Savka