Wars are highly unpredictable

Thu 09 Aug 2012 03:07 GMT | 07:07 Local Time

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News.Az interviews Dr. Hans Gutbrod, Caucasus Analyst, previously with Caucasus Research Resource Centers.

May the status-quo, created in the region after the August war, be changed, at least with the current regimes in Georgia and Russia?

As long as the overall geopolitical situation remain stable, I think it's unlikely that we will see a big change in the status quo in the near future. Of course, bigger geopolitical changes are hard to predict, so the main thing for each side is to have its house in order, so that it can respond when there are opportunities.

There are many talks about important role of info-war during and after the August war. Does it really matter if Russia have achieved its goals and seized a part of internationally recognized Georgian territory?

Well, Russia never entirely defined its goals very clearly. At first it was defending South Ossetia, later it was pushing back the Georgian military, and then it was regime change. It failed to change the regime, so in that way Russia has not achieved one of its main goals. Subsequently Russia reacted aggressively towards OSCE and UNOMIG, insisting both be closed down, as if it had lost the war and was sulking. Also, by not complying with key parts of the cease-fire agreement that Russia itself signed, it made itself look a lot less good. So I think overall the outcome for Russia was far from ideal, and it lost a lot of authority and credibility.

Georgia and Azerbaijan are strategic partners of the US and other NATO members. In what circumstances the West would intervene to a similar conflict and war if they happen in the future?

I would think that all efforts are focused on preventing a similar conflict from the rising again. All sides know that by pushing too far, one would risk setting off a spiral.

Are you sure that Georgia may join NATO with in fact unresolved conflicts on its territory?

A key consideration before the unresolved conflicts are the internal reforms in Georgia. These, for the next two or three years, will be the main point of focus, including the upcoming elections. If Georgia convinces its Western partners that substantive reform has happened, and is irreversible, it could make a very good argument that some sort of arrangement for membership should be found. 

How did the August war influence on the Karabakh conflict?

I think the lesson continues to be the old one: wars are highly unpredictable, and all sorts of things could happen. This is one of the reasons why a sensible policy would focus on successful internal reform, reduction of corruption, and governments that are responsive to citizens. If this succeeds, the countries will be much stronger politically, and better capable to make the most of whatever opportunity is presented to them.





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