4.13.2010

Delicate diplomacy

With everything going on in the international sphere lately, it's been saddening -- if completely understandable -- to watch Obama focus almost exclusively on domestic issues. That's why Obama's calling Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili is very good news:
Kyrgyzstan is much less important for Georgia than Ukraine is, but the symbolism is very negative. The results of two out of the three "color revolutions" that shook the region in 2003-05 now appear to have been reversed. Some radical Georgian opposition leaders immediately vowed to repeat the Bishkek scenario soon in Tbilisi. Coincidentally, they are the very political figures who recently changed their views, withdrawing support for Georgia's NATO aspirations and instead engaging in friendship with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The Turkish-Armenian rapprochement that could create positive dynamics toward Europeanizing the region is now stalled. So far, the most unpleasant by-product of this effort is the further alienation of Azerbaijan from both Turkey and the United States. This by default strengthens Russia's hand in the region.

Given the apparent Russian involvement in the Kyrgyz uprising last week, showing support to our allies in the region -- especially those allies who have done a good job of working toward building democracy. Georgia was not invited to the nuclear summit in Washington this week, and that is disappointing, but not entirely a snub. Indeed, there isn't exactly a reason to invite Georgia -- it would appear more of a provocation than necessary.

The phone call was a good diplomatic move: it was subtle, it came at no cost, and it sent the right message. We will continue to support our allies and work toward democracy across the world, and Russia should not be granted a completely free hand in the former Soviet Bloc -- there are international standards to be upheld.