From the moment of the
Georgian attack there has been a vast moral abdication in the
west, among politicians, intellectuals and media a failure
to honestly confront what Georgia did. This moral failure has
profound consequences for us and it is preventing western
leadership from dealing realistically with the new boundaries
of nationhood here.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are free and independent countries,
goals sought by our people for centuries. We will never again
be a part of Georgia. Over the past two decades, we have
worked hard to prepare for our place in the community of
nations; by promoting development of a civil society, by
encouraging a free press and by holding contested elections in
which our citizens chose their leaders. The same cannot be
said of Georgia, whose last two leaders have come to power
We want to raise our children without worrying every day about
a reckless leader with a US arsenal at his disposal. Yet
instead of demanding truth and accountability about atrocities
committed by Georgia's US-trained and equipped military last
August, the west is rearming our neighbour and committing
billions of dollars in aid to the same rash leadership.
After independent observers, journalists and human rights
groups began confirming the Georgian actions, some US and
western leaders against all reason and justice said that
it was no longer important who started the August war.
Military aggression against civilians is never unimportant.
In the long run Abkhazians and South Ossetians will achieve
our goals of political freedom and economic opportunity which
are universal to people all over the world. But in the near
term our progress is thwarted by western acquiescence in
Georgia's policy of isolation and intimidation toward us.
US leaders say that unquestioning military and financial
support for Georgia is the surest path to freedom and
democracy in the region. But even the US has acknowledged
President Mikheil Saakashvili's failure to uphold his
democratic credentials, including the silencing of critics in
the media and the crushing of political dissent.
In fact, the west is defending the borders of the Soviet
Republic of Georgia, not historic Georgia, and embracing an
ugly strain of Georgian nationalism and territorialism. It was
Joseph Stalin who forced South Ossetia and Abkhazia into
Georgia in 1931 under the Soviet Union, against the wishes of
We believe our young democracies have great potential for
bringing about peace, stability, freedom and democracy in the
region. Yet the west has declined even to learn about our
nation-building efforts. Our citizens, including students and
desperately sick children, have been denied visas to the US
and Germany, among other countries. Last year the US state
department, under pressure from Georgia, refused to meet six
human rights activists from South Ossetia visiting Washington.
Why are they so afraid to listen?
Part of this resistance comes from a group of leaders in the
west so steeped in a cold war mentality that they can only
view our countries as pawns in an endless geopolitical
struggle between Russia and the US and Europe. That leaves our
republics, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in the unfortunate
position described in an African proverb: when the elephants
dance, the grass gets trampled.
We have no intention of accepting that fate. We will continue
to insist that the world address the truth and accept its
The truth is that on 7 August 2008 an irrational Georgian
leader used US military support to launch a brutal attack on
South Ossetia, hours after publicly assuring Ossetian
civilians that he had ordered a ceasefire. The truth is that
Grad rockets and cluster bombs killed women, children and the
elderly in the middle of the night, and only Russian
intervention prevented an even greater atrocity.
Georgia does not need more weapons; it needs more tolerance
and political freedom. If the Obama administration genuinely
wanted to promote peace, stability and democratic values in
our region, it would insist that Georgia sign a pact of
non-aggression against our countries.
The language of US leaders says peace, but their actions
communicate otherwise. In his visit to Tbilisi last month, US
vice-president Joseph Biden made the following comment: "It's
a sad certainty but it is true," he said. "there is no
military option to reintegration [of Abkhazia and South
Why would it be "sad" that Georgia should not use its military
to attack our people?
In the end, we would ask the following: are Georgian freedoms
more important than Abkhazian or South Ossetian freedoms? Is a
Georgian child worth more than a South Ossetian or Abkhazian
We in Abkhazia and South Ossetia urge Georgia and its western
supporters to join us in building a future based on shared
values and a desire for peace.
Come to Sukum and Tskhinval and see for yourself. Talk to
those seeking to rebuild our war-damaged villages, meet the
students who have been denied visas to attend peace camp in
Germany, visit the entrepreneurs trying to grab a piece of the
global market in spite of the Georgian blockade. We welcome
your scrutiny and advice. We are not afraid of the truth.