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Georgia: Resolutions Spark Controversy
Online discussion reflects vigilance over Georgian, Russian, NATO actions
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2008-08-23 04:12 (KST)   
The Russian ambassador to the United Nations told journalists that the resolution he proposed to the Security Council has been put in blue so that it could be voted on. This resolution is one of two contending draft resolutions put before the Security Council in the controversy in the council over Georgia and South Ossetia. Once a Security Council resolution has been put into this form, it can be put to a vote of the Security Council after 24 hours.

While the controversy that exists inside the council is being reflected in some degree in the international mainstream media, the manifestation of it is even more remarkably demonstrated in the netizen media of online discussions and commentary, blogs and online media of many varieties. (See for example, the blog vineyardsaker or the commentary on digitaljournal. These are just two examples of many thoughtful analyses and substantial online discussion that have filled the Internet on this issue.)

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The public presentation of competing resolutions is relatively unusual with respect to Security Council activity. While there are often differences among the delegates, such differences are less often presented in public proceeding. Instead, a form of scripted activity agreed to in advance more regularly takes place, especially when public action is taken on resolutions.

Also, it is not so common that Security Council activity is the subject of netizen discussion and commentary. To have public scrutiny of Security Council controversy sets a basis for the delegates to treat their actions with more consideration of the public concerns than is often obvious.

The Russian resolution presented to the Security Council on Tuesday refers to the six points of the ceasefire agreement that was signed between Georgia and of Russia (1). Following is the text of the resolution the Russian delegation submitted to the Security Council on Tuesday and announced to be put in blue on Wednesday:

The Russian Federation Draft Resolution

The Security Council

Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions,

1. Endorses the following plan agreed in Moscow on August 12, 2008:

President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and President of the Republic of France Nicolas Sarkozy support the following principles of resolving the conflicts and call on the parties concerned to adhere to these principles:

a) do not resort to the use of force;

b) definitive cessation of hostilities;

c) free access to humanitarian aid;

d) withdrawal of the Georgian forces to their permanent bases;

e) withdrawal of the Russian Federation forces to the line prior to the beginning of hostilities; pending the establishment of international mechanisms the Russian peacekeeping forces take additional security measures;

f) opening of international discussion of lasting security and stability arrangements for South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

2. Calls upon the parties concerned to implement the abovementioned plan in good faith.
The French Draft Resolution

A French draft resolution, which had been presented to the council on Monday, relates to two of the items from the six principles, rephrased, and adds the issue of support for the territorial integrity of Georgia as the essential focus.

The resolution states:

The Security Council

Recalling all its previous resolutions on Georgia, including resolution 1808 of 15 April 2008 (S/RES/1808); and reaffirming in this context the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders;

1. Demands full and immediate compliance with the cease-fire agreement to which the parties have subscribed;

2. Demands the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces to the lines held prior to the outbreak of hostilities, and the return of Georgian forces to their usual bases;

3. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

("TEXT-Draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Georgia," Reuters, Aug. 19)
Some Security Council Delegates Explain Their Positions

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the UN, talking to journalists about the draft resolution submitted by Russia, explained that it is important to have the UN Security Council play a constructive role in the process of implementing the peace framework signed by Georgia and Russia. He said that he had presented the draft resolution to the French Ambassador several days earlier and had not heard any vehement objections to it (Vitaly Churkin on the situation in Georgia, Stakeout, Aug. 20).

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the deputy representative from France to the UN, said that the draft resolution submitted to the council by France limited itself to two elements from the 6 principles of the agreement because the Security Council will have a number of issues to deal with and should be looking at the priorities, the first of which is the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia (Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Stakeout, Aug. 20).

The deputy representative to the Security Council from the US, Alejandro Wolff, describing his support for the French resolution and objection to the Russian, focused on asking what the Russian intentions are with regard to Georgia (Alejandro Wolff, Stakeout, Aug. 20).

At the public meeting of the council held on Tuesday to consider what to do about the Georgia situation, the council members who are also members of NATO spoke in favor of the proposed French draft resolution. The Russian ambassador explained his problems with the proposed resolution.

The only other council member to speak was the ambassador from Costa Rica, Jorge Urbina. He said that the situation should not be viewed as a European issue or as one that concerns "only the great economic and military powers." Although he said that the smallest states of the UN also were concerned about what was happening, he didn't express any viewpoint toward the French draft resolution or the six-point agreement between Russia and Georgia (see meeting notes from Security Council Aug. 19 meeting, S/PV.5961).

Georgia's actions (2) on Aug. 7 in first calling a truce and then sending its troops to attack Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, would seem difficult to understand outside of the context of its aspirations to join NATO. The existence of its regions that have declared their autonomy was, according to some news reports, given as one reason for the objections to its request for membership.

Some analyses argue that Georgia gambled that if it was able to defeat the South Ossetians by a military attack on Tskhinvali, that would have removed one of the objections to Georgia's admission to NATO. A problem with such reasoning, however, is that the history of the Ossetian struggle for independence from Georgia demonstrates that military means cannot be a way to solve the controversy over the autonomy issue for South Ossetia.

Such analyses propose that the Georgian assault was based on a strategy that even if the military attack failed, it would provoke Russia to respond militarily and that would solicit support for Georgia's bid to be part of NATO (3).

While the struggle goes on at the Security Council, an even more fierce battle is raging between the mainstream Western media and the online netizen journalism. This issue has solicited many responses from people around the world. Some of the responses refer to the media campaign the US government waged to create a pretext to invade Iraq as the reason netizens must be vigilant with respect to the coverage by the mainstream Western media of the conflict.

One such comment advised Russia to support online discussion and commentary in response to Western mainstream media views and misrepresentations. This is proposed to be as important as any other new military defense.
1. The Six Principles in the Agreement Signed by Russia and Georgia are as follows, with additions Sarkozy made after the signing:

1. No recourse to use violence between the protagonists. Sarkozy: This applies to everyone: Ossetians, Abkhazians, Georgia in its entirety and Russians.

2. The cessation of hostilities.

3. The granting of access to humanitarian aid.

4. The return of Georgian armed forces to their usual quarters.

5. Russian armed forces to withdraw to the positions held before hostilities began in South Ossetia. Russian peacekeepers to implement additional security measures until an international monitoring mechanism is in place. Sarkozy: These measures affect only the immediate vicinity of South Ossetia and in no instance the entire territory of Georgia.

6. The opening of international discussions on the modalities of security and stability of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

(Deutsche Presse Agentur [DPA])
2. The following is a blog by an R.T. journalist sent to report on Tskhinvali on Aug. 8: Mikehalid Lebedev Blog.

See also the meeting of the Security Council early on Aug. 8 about Georgia's military action against South Ossetia.

3. One such analysis is contained in an Opinion article in the Moscow Times on Aug. 13. A similar analysis is offered by Mikhail Gorbachev in an op-ed "Russia Never Wanted a War" published in the New York Times on Aug. 20, 2008.


An earlier version of this article appears on my blog, netizenblog.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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