A Christmas Present for Georgia

Vladimir Socor at EDM has posted a column on the Russian military withdrawal from Tbilisi.

GEORGIA’S HARD-EARNED CHRISTMAS PRESENT: RUSSIAN MILITARY OUT OF TBILISI By Vladimir Socor Tuesday, January 2, 2007 On December 25, 2006, the last personnel of Russia’s garrison in Tbilisi and the rump Headquarters of the Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus (GRVZ) pulled out of Georgia’s capital and of the country altogether. Their unwilling, though ultimately precipitate, withdrawal crowns 15 years of Georgian efforts toward this goal. Moreover, the evacuation brings to a close more than 200 years of the Russian garrisoning of Tbilisi. The imperial Russian army under General Ivan Lazarev occupied Tbilisi in November 1799, using an invasion route from Ossetia (Itar-Tass, December 24). … In a year-end address to a business audience, Saakashvili reviewed overall Russia-Georgia relations in 2006: “Their idea was to shake Georgia until it finally collapsed,” he noted, listing: The energy blockade in the coldest winter on record, January/February 2006; the series of embargoes on Georgian fruit and vegetables, wines, and mineral water, the full closure of Russia’s market and the transportation blockade against Georgia, the orchestrated propaganda against the country, recruitment of shadowy politicians “hoping to return criminal chaos to Georgia,” the incidents staged in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the freezing of the negotiations on those conflicts. Nevertheless, Georgia succeeded in preserving democratic stability, developing transport infrastructure, creating attractive conditions for business, and pursuing its Western course (Rustavi-2 TV, December 27).

Read the complete article here.