Gjesteskribent

EU bygger på prinsippet om fredelig kappestrid. Nasjonene avstår noe av sin suverenitet, sikre på at krig ikke lenger er en «option». Krigen i Georgia snur opp ned på disse forestillingene. EU må nå forholde seg til at en stormakt på eurasiatiske kontinent benytter krig som politisk middel, skriver Daily Telegraphs diplomatiske redaktør David Blair.

Russland kontrollerer 18 prosent av Georgias territorium. En vesentlig grunn til innmarsjen var ønsket om å forpurre at Georgia blir medlem av NATO. Man går inn i et annet land for å diktere dets utenrikspolitikk. Dette er å vende tilbake til forholdene slik de var før annen verdenskrig, skriver Blair.

The European Union’s founding principle is the abolition of war between its members, yet the map of a corner of Europe has effectively been redrawn by the older, harsher method of force of arms.

The relevant international frontiers may look unchanged, but the de facto outcome of this bloody episode is that Russia has annexed two regions of Georgia, namely South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Moscow will now run these enclaves, which together comprise 18 per cent of Georgia, and the Kremlin’s terms for a permanent cessation of hostilities are carefully framed to guarantee its future control over both.

No starker repudiation of the idea of Europe embodied by the Treaty of Rome could be imagined. This is a throwback to the Europe which existed before 1945, when nations were routinely made, unmade and carved to pieces by force.

It was not meant to be this way. The Soviet Union’s demise in 1991 and the end of the Cold War were supposed to herald an era when the eastern half of Europe would enjoy the same privileges as the West. Chief among these was the principle that force would never again be used to settle disputes between nations.

Robert Cooper, formerly a senior British diplomat and adviser to Tony Blair, describes this as the «post-modern» approach to foreign policy in his book «The Breaking of Nations». All EU members accept a major loss of sovereignty and view war between them as unthinkable, however many rows they may have. They compete fiercely in everything except warfare.

Yet Russia has a decidedly different, pre-modern approach to statecraft. In the eyes of the Kremlin under Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, national sovereignty is everything and war is an acceptable way of dealing with a troublesome neighbour. Georgia’s fate shows that any country living alongside Russia effectively inhabits an earlier era when Moscow’s Goliath permanently overshadows the regional Davids.

Moreover, Russia has employed warfare not merely for territorial reasons. This is not only about securing South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of whom have largely Russian populations whose interests the Kremlin can plausibly argue to be serving. Russia has also used force to sabotage the central aim of a supposedly independent nation’s foreign policy.

Georgia’s ambition to join Nato is pivotal to this crisis. By taking punitive action against President Mikheil Saakashvili, Russia is demonstrating the risk taken by any former Soviet Republic brave enough to seek Nato membership.

Russia’s victory over Georgia marks a watershed
Russia’s victory in its Five Day War against Georgia marks the end of an era when European nations competed with one another in every field except warfare.

By David Blair, Diplomatic Editor

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