Giorgi Baramidze, deputy prime minister of Georgia: puts Georgian case. Claims that there has been no hassling of Ossetians in Georgia proper. (Yeah, right.)
Dimitrij Rupel, Slovenian foreign minister: rambles as usual. Sorry, I just find him annoying.
Jan Kubis, Slovakian foreign minister: very good (to my slight surprise) – says OSCE collectively failed to resolve this when he was secretary-general. Everyone should realise that if you don’t negotiate the other guy will eventually take unilateral action. EU needs to reflect on the fact that it was unable to exert effective multilateralism.
Carl Bildt, Swedish foreign minister: also very good. Sarkozy plan has not been implemented, hence EU summit tomorrow. Points out that threshold for Russian military action is now lower than we thought. Also boundaries no longer inviolable.
Marc de Brichambaut, OSCE secretary-general: a peculiar speech, saying that it is not all bad, given that Georgian electricity supply has not been interrupted. But we all have to consider situation. Blah.
Aleksandar Yakovenko, Russian deputy foreign minister: Russian viewpoint. Georgians were plotting genocide. We did not attack the pipeline (the problems were in Turkey, nothing to do with us). We have implemented all points of Sarkozy plan. We are ready to discuss future status of these territories immediately.
Matt Bryza, American deputy secretary of state: very effective rebuttal of Yakovenko. Russians are in violation of ceasefire agreement, which specifies only patrols near Tskhinvali, not troops in Poti or on the main highway. Yeah, the pipeline was not attacked, but other fuel supplies were interrupted. Yeah, Georgians shouldn’t have attacked Tskhinvali – and we told them not to – but they were being shelled by South Ossetian militia under effective Russian command. Russians have failed to turn up to meetings in peace processes in Abkhazia.
Peter Semneby, EU Special Rep for South Caucasus: not a very inspired presentation (I know him and he is much better in private). EU needs to discuss its relations with Georgia and Russia, and everyone should work on the conflict. Obviously constrained from saying anything of substance by his position and the situation.
Jean Lamy, from French foreign ministry: the most junior official present, and out of his depth. Energy is very important. French will work to achieve energy security, with the Commission, if they do their job properly, because it is very important. EU-Russia summit in mid-November will be very important.
Alex Cooley, Columbia University: calls for international administration in conflict zones, with resolution of status after 5-10 years. Not a bad idea and I think I actually proposed something like this for Abkhazia while at ICG.
Zeyno Baran, Washington thinktanker: wake up, Europeans! The Russians are trying to stop you from getting fossil fuels from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and your inaction in Georgia is making it easier for Russians to bully them. Also points out dangers of Nagorno-Karabakh, and she is dead right to do so. Also thinks that there is a likelihood of a gas cartel to match OPEC which will also screw the EU as Russia and Iran cooperate. And bear in mind Turkey may be under pressure too.
Oksana Antonenko, London think-tanker: she actually helped the Slovenians to broker dialogue between Georgia and Ossetia three years ago, and is deeply saddened by recent events. We have all failed in this crisis; it is no longer even a zero-sum game but a negative-sum game. We need a framework for all parties to sit around the table, if talk of new cold war is not to become self-fulfilling prophecy. But she doesn’t see who can offer that. Central Asia is now frightened of beng made to choose between Russia and the West.
Mustafa Aydin, Turkish academic: worried about being 13th (and last) speaker. Is EU going to develop a single policy? Its indecision is destabilsing. Georgia has been unduly punished for its attack on South Ossetia. EU needs to work on diversification of supply, not allowing Russian clutch on energy supply to intensify. Turkey is vital country in this. Montreux convention has worked for 72 years.
Baramidze: Russians should pull out of non-conflict areas, and stop ethnic cleansing; Georgia needs help to repair damage, including to our protected Borjomi forests. International investigation needed into what happened. We don’t want sanctions against the Russian people, but Russian government should be punished.
Yakovenko: recognition of independence was necessary for security to be preserved. (He was rather brief.)
Moderator asks about China. Bildt says that China will support territorial integrity, for its own reasons. Of course Central Asia important here, but internal Chinese issues even more so.
Moderator asks Bryza if we can go back to the table now? Bryza replies that we have no choice. We will always proceed from principle of territorial integrity. But we always have to find a way to negotiate compromise which includes political principle of self-determination (which is not a legal right). NB we always supported Russian sovereignty in Chechnya. Kosovo is different, different UN mandate.
Turkish diplomat from audience: apologises for foreign minister’s absence. Turkey is very concerned by all this. Georgia’s stability strategically important for us.
Journalist: 1/10 of all European imports at most could come from Caucasus. EU has to act more coherently on energy policy as a whole, includoing guaranteeing construction of pipelines. But interesting consequence of war is intensified rather than weakened commitment to the Caspian pipeline. Russians must now decide how they want the war to end.
Kubis points out that Chinese and SCC members in Dushanbe supported Russian “active role” as well as 6-point plan!
Summary: neither Russians nor Georgians covered themselves in glory here, but also neither did the EU which clearly has no firm plan or strategy. Several non-European speakers pointing out the dangers of Russian control of EU fuel supply. Bryza (who I’ve met a few times) easily the best of the panellists.