Monday 1 June 2009

South Ossetian Elections

Elections have just taken place in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia (which broke away from Georgia de facto a while ago but has recently been recognized by Russia, in payback for the Georgian war and the West (or most of the West's) recognition of Kosovo as an independent state). Rebel leader Eduard Kokoity is in a strong position now, with most of the parties in parliament either supportive or uncritical of the leader.

The EU has condemned the elections as illegitimate, as has the Georgian government naturally enough. But should the EU not take a more constructive role in the region? Backing Georgia may be more in our interests, but the problem won't be solved - whether by independence or reintegration - if the EU either doesn't engage or encourage a multilateral peace process. Isolated republics, dependent on great power patronage, will not work well for their citizens, and the current political alignment only encourages grandstanding by both sides from inside the political bunkers of their alliances. I'm not saying that the South Ossetian regime is good or bad - I suspect the later considering the apparent lack of a proper opposition - but the situation is worsened by the international political atmosphere, and it will be the same for the other breakaway republic.

The kind of approach needed to encourage détente would have to be skillful and effective - sadly an approach unlikely to be forthcoming from the EU in its current "lowest common demoninator" state.

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