Russia's activity in the Caucasian region was not hailed by Dmitry Medvedev's SCO pertners.
Photo: Alexander Miridonov
Allies Let Him down
// Dmitry Medvedev didn’t get the support of the SCO members
Russia didn’t manage to enlist the support for its policy in the Caucasus of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) members. According to the information of Kommersant, the SCO leaders orally expressed their approval of Moscow’s line, but in its final declaration, the SCO supported the principle of territorial integrity and condemned using force when addressing international issues. It means that Russia is left alone in its possible confrontation with the West.
Kommersant predicted that Dmitry Medvedev’s SCO debut would be complicated: the rest of the SCO members refused to back Moscow in its conflict with Georgia, and to support Moscow’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. According to the sources of Kommersant, Dmitry Medvedev insisted on thrashing out the Georgian problem during the talks, but his counterparts reacted the same way: they said that they were on Russia’s side, but refused flatly to make official statements regarding the matter.
Dmitry Medvedev’s negotiations with China’s Hu Jintao best demonstrated the attitude of the SCO members to the matter. According to the information of Kommersant, the Chinese leader understood the Russian position, but he explained that we’ll be unable to officially side with Moscow. “All SCO members have they own problematic regions. If one of the countries recognizes the independence of the Caucasian republics, claims regarding its own territories will follow,” complained the interlocutor of Kommersant. “In particular, the People’s Republlic of China will face the Tibet problem.” Another high-ranking diplomat told Kommersant that all other SCO heads-of-state told Dmitry Medvedev that they understood him but then they made excuses saying that they will be unable to officially make their positions the point.
The wording of the SCO political declaration was another blow on Russia. In the document, the SCO members state “they are deeply concerned over the tensions in South Ossetia and call on the parties involved to resolve the dispute by means of peaceful dialogue.” “Using force is no use. It will complicate settling regional conflicts,” the document reads. Moreover, the SCO states supported “preserving the territorial integrity in accordance with international law.” So, the SCO could neither condemn nor support the military operation in Georgia. Also, there is no clear-cut position regarding the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. What’s more, you can spot implied dissatisfaction with Moscow’s line in some paragraphs of the document.
There was only short phrase to comfort Moscow. At the end of the document, the SCO members stated that they “hail the adoption of the six-point peace plan in Moscow on August 12 and are in favor of Russia’s role of contributing to peace and cooperation in the region.” However, there is no straightforward support of Moscow’s approach in this document. The declaration in fact resembles the statements of many EU members after the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan was signed.
A source in the Russian delegation told Kommersant that Moscow was aware that this scenario is pretty likely. In his address, Dmitry Medvedev even thanked his colleagues “for the understanding and the unbiased assessment of Russia’s peacekeeping role.”
“Surely, this position of the SCO members will have quite an impact on the world community in general. I hope it’ll send a clear message to those who try to make the white appear the black justifying the aggression,” said Dmitry Medvedev.
After the meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had to explain to the journalists why the SCO refused to back Russia. According to the Minister, Russia didn’t seek to persuade its partners to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. “Unlike certain Western partners, we prefer that every country should make its mind with any external pressure,” he stated. Sergey Lavrov said Moscow knew about American envoys’ visits to other states, where they “told them what to say regarding the problem.” “Such sort of boorishness is not inherent in our political tradition,” the Russian Minister told the journalists.
Russian President tried to convince the journalists that the SCO supports Moscow, “I told my colleagues how things stood in reality, who unleashed the hostilities, and that every aggressor must give account for what they did,” Dmitry Medvedev said. “The colleagues shared this viewpoint, and during the negotiations we concluded that such conflicts in no way cement the world order, and the countries that start aggression, must answer for what they do.”
By the way, the president criticized Georgia as well as those who turned a blind eye on the Georgian government’s policy. However, it was prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was most harsh speaking about the conflict during his interview with CNN. “It’s not about the US administration failing to prevent the Georgia leaders from launching the assault – the American party virtually gave the Georgians the guns, and it trained them.” More to the point, Vladimir Putin assumed that it was Washington that brought about the conflict. “If what I presume turns out true, then there is a suspicion that there are forces in Washington that deliberately fueled the tensions in order to create an advantage to one of the presidential challengers.”
Moscow was alone in its anti-western sentiments. No other SCO members supported it.
Nevertheless, there was one participant of the summit who didn’t hesitate to express the negative feelings he had toward the West – Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Some forces in the West impee the integration in the region and stoke the tensions in the relations of neighboring countries,” the Iranian leader said with irritation. “This is how they pave the way to their military and political supremacy, and unfortunately, they keep on with their unilateral actions.”
So Moscow enlisted the support of one government at least. It need be said, though, that Iran is only a guest attendance. In March Teheran applied for SCO membership, but China minds admitting it nonetheless. In Dushanbe, it was decided to set up an expert group for expansion matters.
The failure to enlist the SCO support leaves Moscow alone in its confrontation with the West. Even Russia’s traditional allies refused to side with it. During the final banquet the Kazakh president even apologized for having failed to support Moscow due to different reasons.
All the Article in Russian as of Aug. 29, 2008