TRACECA AND THE GREAT SILK ROAD AS A FACTOR IN REBUILDING GEORGIA’S TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY
Maia Nebieridze, Editor, Transport & Communication Foreign Relations Desk (Tbilisi, Georgia)
The Great Silk Road—to some, the restoration of this ancient route is sheer politics while to others, it is but an abstract myth; still others are convinced that the Eurasian transport corridor could be tapped to the full.
Nonetheless, there is good reason to say that the idea of restoring the Great Silk Road has already become part and parcel of big-time politics not only for the authorities in countries that it will pass through. While economists are estimating the possible benefits and costs, state leaders are thinking about political dividends.
On 8 September, 1998, an international conference on the Eurasian transport corridor took place in Baku, attended mainly by top officials of TRACECA member states. The interest shown in the project is evident in, among other things, the fact that, at the Baku summit, representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia, which are at war with each other, for the first time in many years, sat at the same table. The meeting resulted in a joint communiqué, signed by the heads of 12 delegations, supporting the plan to restore the Great Silk Road.
Although some short sections of the legendary route are already in use, the project’s implementation is still a long way off. One negative factor here are contradictions between countries in the region: strained relations between Armenia and Turkey, Russia and Georgia, and Iran and the United States as well as the disputed oil fields in the Caspian Sea. Furthermore, regional instability is exacerbated by dormant, but still potentially explosive, conflicts on the territory of Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh).
A separate problem is opposition from Russia, which sees strong competition to its transit capacities, actively lobbying for alternative routes via its own territory.
In May 1998, at the Fifth TRACECA Conference, the Georgian Transport Ministry (on the initiative of the Abkhaz government in exile) moved a proposal whereby should the country’s territorial integrity be restored and Abkhazia returned under the republic’s jurisdiction, funds are to be provided for rebuilding highways, railways, bridges, and other infrastructure on the Gali-Ochamchira section. Under the TRACECA development program, $20 million was to be earmarked for the purpose.
That there was some cause to make the proposal is evident from, among other things, the resumption of hostilities in Abkhazia’s Gali District. Although guerrilla units, not regular Georgian forces, were involved in clashes, many politicians in this country were confident of victory and the return of the Gali District. The bitter outcome of the ill-conceived operation, however, was a new wave of Georgian refugees from Abkhazia. The plan of restoring the region’s transport system was put on hold indefinitely.
Today it is unrealistic to expect large-scale investment in Abkhazia or its integration into the transcontinental transport network, envisioned under the TRACECA program. Outstanding territorial problems, the devastating consequences of the war in Abkhazia, and the establishment of a separatist regime there rule out the possibility of its transit capacity being used on a region-wide scale or as part of the Great Silk Road project.
In prewar time, transport lines passing through Abkhazia linked Georgia and Armenia with Russia and the European part of the post-Soviet area. And while, in the summer period, sea, rail, motor, and air transport was traditionally involved in providing services to tourists and vacationers, the rest of the year the region’s transit capacity was fully tapped also for cargo haulage.
Here is a noteworthy fact: In its time, in accordance with special instructions from the CPSU Central Committee, from April until the end of the summer season, transport facilities were mobilized to carry early vegetables, fruit, and other agricultural produce from Georgia via Abkhazia to the central parts of Russia, primarily to Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). For its part, Russia used the Abkhaz territory to transport lumber, coal, metal, and other industrial goods to the Union republics of the Southern Caucasus. Oil from Baku was shipped by rail to oil refineries in the European part of the Soviet Union. This section of the railroad and local airports were used for transit and transshipment of military cargoes.
As of 1990, there were 2,342 kilometers of highways in Abkhazia, 624 kilometers of them federal and republican highways. At the time cargo traffic was at 300 million tonnes per kilometer and passenger traffic, 1,100 million passengers per kilometer.
As a result of hostilities in Abkhazia, the greater part of motor facilities were destroyed or stolen. About 200 vehicles were evacuated by the autonomy’s legitimate authorities.
Owing to poor maintenance and the war, the road infrastructure, despite its critical importance to economic rehabilitation, is in a deplorable state. The top priority is to rebuild the most damaged sections of the main highway passing through Abkhazia as well as roads to Gudauta, Ochamchira, Pitsunda, and the Kodor Gorge. Because of a shortage of funds, the Sukhumi Road Department can only repair somewhat the most damaged sections, but is not in a position to bring the roads up to scratch. Nonetheless, motor transport accounts for the bulk of cargo and passenger traffic in Abkhazia.
The greater part of railways in Abkhazia are one-track. Even so, they were used at maximum capacity back in the Soviet era, when plans were made to expand the railway tracks.
Abkhazia occupies an advantageous position along the Transcaucasian corridor, linking the Russian Federation with Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan and, through the Baku-Aktau ferry link, also with countries of Central Asia. In addition, the railway lines of these states can be integrated into a unified transport system with Turkey and Iran.
The railroad from Sochi, continuing the Russian railway line to eastern Georgia (with branch tracks leading to the Black Sea ports of Poti, Batumi, Sukhumi, and Ochamchira), forms a transport system that is vital for the region. Today, however, this transport node is fully paralyzed. The railroad from Russia has ended up virtually cut off from transit cargo traffic in the Southern Caucasus. For their part, the railway systems of these states have to operate virtually in an autonomous mode. There is a pressing need to rebuild this transport system, including the Abkhaz section (with appropriate infrastructure), which has been seriously damaged during the war. True, some repair work has been done, but the present condition of bridges does not allow for transportation of heavy cargoes. Long stretches lack power lines and the signaling system is out of order.
According to a joint commission that worked in Abkhazia in August 1999, approximately $70 million will be required to fully restore the Abkhaz section. At present traffic is only possible at a limited speed of under 50 kilometers an hour while on two runs (up to three kilometers long) it cannot exceed five kilometers an hour. In Russian expert estimate, up to $3.5 million will be needed to ensure a more or less stable and safe traffic flow. The cost of major repairs could be covered with proceeds once the section reopens and regular cargo and passenger traffic begins. Reopening transit via Abkhazia is economically beneficial not only for Georgia but also for Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan as well as other countries that are party to the TRACECA and Great Silk Road projects. Nonetheless, aside from financial difficulties, the main impediment is the less-than-constructive position by the Abkhaz side, which uses various pretexts to evade a political settlement of the conflict despite the catastrophic condition of its own economy.
Given the specifics of Abkhazia’s resort area, air transport in the region was used primarily to carry passengers, mainly tourists and vacationers. In 1991, passenger traffic, which had until then been falling, started growing, reaching 0.5 million people. In 1992, the Sukhumi airport operated nine Tu-134 airplanes. During the war, two of them were destroyed by fire, another two were damaged and taken out of operation, and three were evacuated to Tbilisi and Batumi. At present the Sukhumi airport has two Tu-134 planes, both out of order.
Today the airport is closed to international flights; it is virtually idle, receiving only helicopters of the U.N. mission and the missions of other international organizations. In the summer of 2001, Sukhumi authorities opened it to helicopters of Georgian official delegations. Prior to that, Georgian helicopters flying from Senaki had to use a local stadium for landing.
At one time the Sukhumi air fleet was considered to be one of the best in the Soviet Union, being a monopolist of passenger and cargo transit in western Georgia while the airport’s technical parameters and its traffic capacity were up to the finest international standards. The Babushera airport (formerly the Sukhumi airfield) is considered to be the world’s best in this latitude as it has a large traffic capacity and is virtually unaffected by weather conditions. It is a very convenient point in air transit between Europe and Asia; it has a 3,600-meter runway and used to have the region’s best air traffic control and modern navigation systems for automated landing. Already now it can be used as a backup for all airports in the Greater Caucasus and international transit flights. Furthermore, the proximity of seaports (Sukhumi, Ochamchira), railway lines and highways make it attractive for international cargo transit traffic.
In the Soviet era, the military airfield at Bombora (near Sukhumi) was of major strategic importance. It was among the top 10 military airfields in the Soviet Union, equipped to receive all types of aircraft, and providing a basing area for state-of-the-art fighters and ground attack planes. Moreover, before 1990, Soviet strategic air defense units were deployed in the Bombora area.
In 1990, 290,000 tonnes of cargo was shipped by sea; sea freight turnover exceeded 10 million tonne/mile while passenger turnover reached 20 million passengers per mile.
The Abkhaz Shipping Company has 21 vessels on its books. Nine of them were evacuated to Poti and Batumi. Incidentally, some unique scientific research vessels—The Vektor and The Modul—are registered to the Sukhumi port. The first is laid up at the Poti port while the other is in Sukhumi, where it is also not used according to its designation.
Abkhaz ports are virtually inactive, processing only fishing vessels, ships arriving with humanitarian aid, and smuggling vessels.
A transport policy concept, developed in 2000 by the Transport Department of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in exile, contains proposals on restoring and expanding the ports of Sukhumi and Ochamchira. Some 20 to 25 years ago, a plan for enlargement of the Ochamchira port was drafted, which is still highly topical today as even deep-draft ocean liners can call at the port. Conversion of naval port installations at former Russian bases is a separate subject.
Furthermore, with a positive settlement of the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict the question will arise about the restoration of resort infrastructure, including the moorings at Gagra, Pitsunda, Gudauta, and Noviy Afon.
The Abkhaz Perspective
At present there is not a single more or less realistic transit route project within the TRACECA or Great Silk Road framework that would include the Abkhaz section. This geopolitically important region has ended up completely excluded from transnational mega-projects. Moreover, this applies to both the building of new roads and pipelines and the reopening of transit traffic along the existing routes.
When the military phase of confrontation in Abkhazia was over, Inal Kazan, leader of the Abkhaz diaspora in the United States, actively used his standing to impede implementation of the Baku-Supsa and Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline projects, sharply criticizing the Georgian peace plan. Recently, he revised his position, however. In his address to the people of Abkhazia, on 1 July, 2001, he pointed out: “For the past seven years we have been free in our prison… I believe that an independent Abkhaz state is a fantasy, pure and simple.” He closed with the following statement: “If we lose this opportunity to act, the fate of our motherland will be decided by those who have nothing to do with us and who could not care less about us.” His address to the people of Georgia, made at the same time, says in part: “A common fate… will enable Georgia to emerge as the main force in the Caucasian region.”
Obviously, non-recognition of the separatist state formation in Abkhazia by the international community, the dramatically declining living standards of its population, lack of information, and, in light of the aforementioned, the fact that transnational economic projects on the drawing boards bypass Abkhazia, have been a factor in bringing about a settlement-policy review by one of the main ideologues of its independence.
The fact is that the Great Silk Road, TRACECA, and other projects will go ahead with or without Abkhazia. It is another matter that with the transit opportunities and the convenient geographic location of the Abkhaz section all countries participating in these projects could get additional economic benefits—not least, the Abkhaz autonomy itself.
The Russian Factor
In addition to the economic benefits of the region’s integration, the advantages of rapprochement between all countries in the Caucasus, including Russia, are just as obvious. I. Kazan writes about this in his open letter to the Abkhaz parliament, dated 10 August, 2001: “The experience in Chechnia and the confrontation in the Caucasus have not diminished the level of Russia’s economic and political interest in the region. In short, the Abkhaz-Georgian settlement will secure Russia’s positions in terms of economic benefit and regional hegemony. This suits all countries in the region.”
In an interview with the Georgian Transport System journal, Zviad Kvachantiradze, secretary general of the TRACECA Intergovernmental Commission, also spoke about the prospects for a rapprochement between Russia and countries in the region should the Abkhaz section reopen: “Reopening the Abkhaz section of the Georgian railroad would bring Russia even closer to TRACECA, which has recently been showing interest in our transport corridor.”1
Nonetheless, although Russia displays interest in Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor projects, recently Moscow has intensified the work on projects enabling it to divert a part of the traffic to its transit corridors. Thus, the RF Transport Ministry has gone ahead with an international North-South transport corridor project; a decision to build the corridor was made by the governments of Russia, Iran, and India. It will link India (through Iran and Russia) with Northern Europe.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad is a kind of a competitor for the transit flow through the countries along the Great Silk Road. Meanwhile, many analysts regard the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline as the main alternative to the Baku-Supsa pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan OET (or main export pipeline) project.
Despite the political and economic competition between the southern and northern oil transportation routes to Europe, there is a plan to link the two pipelines. Experts believe that, considering the fact that the Bosporus strait is now operated well beyond its capacity, it is expedient to lay a 36-inch pipeline (with a capacity of 30 million tonnes a year) from Novorossiisk to Georgia and link it to the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Interconnected, both pipelines could not only carry oil along alternate routes, but also substitute for each other should any technical problems come up on one of the lines.
As far as the Trans-Siberian Railroad is concerned, basically designed to ensure the export/import transit of goods from countries in the Asia-Pacific Region to Europe, it is now operated at half capacity. Only 15 years ago, “Russian transit” earned approximately $300 million a year. Today Russia is taking steps to reanimate the route, but should a railway line linking China with TRACECA countries be put into operation, the Trans-Siberian Railroad will have a formidable competitor.
Some experts see as more feasible a project that will link the port of Lianyungang (the east coast of China) with Amsterdam via Central Asia, the Southern Caucasus, and further on. Railway trains are ferried across the Caspian to Baku and from there, on to the Black Sea port of Poti. It is noteworthy that there are several options for the route further on from Poti: to Varna (Bulgaria), Constanţa (Rumania), and Ilichevsk (Ukraine). Perhaps the greatest impediment to the Lianyungang-Amsterdam route is that it passes across more than two dozen countries. Should all of them synchronize their actions within the project, the international community will get a high-capacity Eurasian express.
Yet even in this event Russian railway lines could be linked to the route. It would be more expedient to send a part of cargo to Eastern and Northern Europe from Baku via Georgia and Russia, and further on (without using a ferry service). This option is, however, unviable without the inclusion of the Abkhaz section of the railway line. Sure, there is a project to build a Caucasus transshipment railway line from Georgia to Russia, but the prospects for it are rather vague.
The political situation now prevailing is such that Russia seeks to ship its natural gas supplies to world markets by skirting Georgia. At the same time the Transcaucasian route for the transport of Caspian gas is taking on discernible shape. Experts believe that one of the most feasible and cost-effective projects is to carry gas from the Shakh Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan via Georgia to Turkey and on to Europe. The reserves at this gas deposit are estimated at 1 trillion cubic meters. Furthermore, according to preliminary estimates, there are also large gas reserves at Apsheron, an adjacent field. Should the forecasts be confirmed, Azerbaijan will obviously emerge as one of the most promising gas exporters in the world. Companies developing Shakh Deniz are giving priority to gas transportation via Georgia to Turkey and then on to Europe—at least 5 billion cubic meters a year and subsequently, up to 25 billion cubic meters a year. Aside from Georgia’s geographic location, one major advantage of this project is that our republic has gas trunklines linked to the gas transportation system of Azerbaijan. It is enough to lay a 250-kilometer line to start pumping gas to Turkey.
To put the existing gas pipelines in order, about 20 kilometers of pipes will need to be replaced and the cathode protection system rebuilt. The repairs will cost approximately $140 million. Including the building of a 250-kilometer line to Turkey, the project will cost a total of approximately $700 million.
Unfortunately, subregional contacts seem to prevail at present, with elements of regionalization. Interregional cooperation on the whole is impeded by political and economic contradictions. Transport corridors, with similar functions (linking Europe and Asia through the most viable transit routes, and energy supplies to the West), are developing amid fierce competition and political lobbying. Implementation of virtually all projects is hindered by the conflict of U.S. and Russian interests, the dependence of Western Europe on Russian energy supplies, an imperfect regulatory, customs and tax system in the region, and the oftentimes confused, ill-defined foreign policy of post-Soviet states.
All of the aforementioned shows that the outstanding problems arising from the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict are a major impediment to tapping Georgia’s transit capacity to the full and to developing the transport infrastructure of all South Caucasian states as well as other countries participating in TRACECA projects. Furthermore, the tapping of Russia’s transit capacity in conjunction with Great Silk Road projects and the linking of the Trans-Siberian Railroad with the Caucasian section of the Eurasian corridor would greatly expand the potentialities of global projects within the framework of the TRACECA program. Bringing in the Abkhaz railroad into the picture would help integrate the railways of South Caucasian states and Russia into a single transport system with a subsequent link to Europe, via Ukraine. The advantages of these projects are obvious: The fact that the Bosporus is already used beyond its capacity does not allow for an increase in the volume of cargo shipped through it. In addition, rail haulage is a far cheaper alternative to road haulage, and so the use of the Psou-Inguri section would greatly cut international haulage costs.
Reopening the railway communication line via Abkhazia is perhaps especially important to Armenia. The key element here is organization of through-traffic from the rail station of Veseloie (Russia) to Samtredia (Georgia) and further on, via Tbilisi, to Erevan, whose interest naturally stems from Armenia’s dead-end status in the Southern Caucasus. The latter is a major impediment to the growth of passenger and cargo traffic between Armenia and Russia.
Here is the opinion of Arthur Sakunts, chairman of the Helsinki Civil Assembly NGO Vanadzor office: “The main problem is that all three states,” he says referring to countries of the Southern Caucasus, “are effectively in a transport blockade. It does not matter through whose fault. What matters is that the vital transport arteries—the railway line across Abkhazia, linking the region with the Russian Federation; the Kars-Giumri railroad, linking it with Turkey; and the railway lines through Megri and Idzhevan-Kazakh, linking Armenia with Azerbaijan—are sitting idle: Neither the authorities nor the political elite are able to address the array of economic and social problems involved.”2
On the other hand, Armenia has long been opposed to the building of a railway line linking Kars (Turkey), Akhalkalaki (Georgia), and Baku (Azerbaijan), the main rationale being its concern that the project could change the ethnic mix of Javakheti (Georgia), which has a predominantly ethnic-Armenian population. This line of reasoning is overpoliticized. After all, should a railroad be built, the correlation between local residents and migrants is unlikely to change. Quite the contrary, the development of transport infrastructure will accelerate the development of Javakheti, attract investment, create new jobs for the local population, and so forth. The real cause for concern seems to lie elsewhere. Before the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Giumri-Kars railway line, at one time the sole link between Soviet republics and Turkey, was of major importance to Armenia as a transit route. And although it is not in operation now, Armenian politicians apparently hope that it will eventually be reopened. Yet it will lose its strategic importance should the Baku-Kars line be put into operation.
The idea of creating a transport system between states in the region was floated at a session of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, held in St. Petersburg on 26 March, 2002, but it was buried even in that purely hypothetical form. The Azerbaijani delegation stated that until all conflicts in the Southern Caucasus were resolved, the country would not accept any such proposals.3
“Economic interest and large-scale joint economic projects could provide a foundation for close cooperation between states in the region, but Armenia does not participate in such projects. Preliminary accords on the building of highways within the framework of the Great Silk Road program also exclude Armenia, and in a less-than-optimistic scenario, North-South highways could also bypass it. As a result, Armenia will end up as an enclave.”4
The knot of territorial problems and dormant ethnic conflicts in the Southern Caucasus prevents the region’s transit capacity from being tapped to the full. The lack of a direct transport communication route between Armenia and Azerbaijan (resulting from the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh) as well as with Turkey; political confrontation between Georgia and Russia; and the West’s treatment of Iran as a rogue state, all of this calls into question the viability of certain projects and jeopardizes the security of the region as a whole.
Russia’s influence is the strongest in Armenia, but also, Russia still has military bases in Georgia, and there are Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow has often used the military factor to exert pressure on Georgia in an effort to reopen transport communication via Abkhaz territory. Thus, in early 2001, an RF commission arrived in Sukhumi on a fact-finding mission. In particular, it was planned to close the Adler airport for renovation, moving up to 20 flights from Moscow to Sukhumi airport. Had the plan been carried out, the Sukhumi airport would have automatically been integrated into Russia’s airport network, at the same time intensifying road traffic between Abkhazia and Russia.5
Furthermore, Moscow and Erevan have repeatedly stressed the need to reopen railway communication via Abkhazia. The Georgian authorities made a counter-proposal: speed up the return of refugees to Abkhazia. The issue stalled. At present the Abkhaz section of the railroad is only used within the boundaries of the self-proclaimed republic, mainly to carry passengers.
The unstable situation in Abkhazia in fact made Russia abandon a relatively low-cost project for a surface gas-pipeline to Turkey, along the Izobilniy-Batumi-Erzerum route, opting instead for the more costly and environmentally unsafe Blue Stream project. The 376-kilometer-long gas pipeline is to pass across the Black Sea bed, linking Dzhubga (Russia) with Samsun (Turkey). Moreover, the Blue Stream project competes with the trans-Caspian gas pipeline project as increased natural gas supplies from Turkmenistan via Russia to European markets will pose certain obstacles to laying the pipeline across Georgian territory.
In Lieu of Conclusion
Russia actively uses its military presence in the region as well as its economic and political leverage. Nonetheless, the West has a much greater financial capacity. It is building up its presence in the Southern Caucasus through, among other things, investment. Whereas Moscow seeks to preserve its influence here, the West is interested to reduce its energy dependence on Russia through alternative energy supply routes.
In this case the regional governments are, rather, passive players, forced to choose from what they are offered. Meanwhile, their freedom to choose is limited by the existence of “blockaded” territories. Assuming the Abkhaz transport section is brought back into operation, how would that improve the prospects for the integration of Russian and Caucasian transit corridors into the European structure? This refers to the utilization of existing railroads with subsequent implementation of joint projects. In this event, the integration of West-East and North-South projects would help fully tap the transit capacity not only of Georgia but of the region as a whole. Furthermore, a lessening of tension around the main oil and gas pipelines would reduce commercial risks and enhance Western investor interest in implementation of global projects for energy transportation from the Caspian and Central Asia to Western Europe.
Perhaps one of the few positive examples of interregional cooperation is the protocol of intent on the creation of a special Black Sea navy cooperation group (BLACKSEAFOR). In June 2000, the document was signed by all countries of the Black Sea basin. The navies of Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Rumania, Turkey, and Ukraine undertook to put in place a structure that will organize humanitarian and search-and-rescue operations as well as environmental protection activities. Contingent on settlement of ethnic conflicts in the Caucasus, such interregional organizations could be instrumental in ensuring security in the region and its integration into the European transport system. At the same time a unified network of transport nodes and communication lines would help reduce the overall influence in the region of both Russia and the West. No one country will be in a position to control all transit corridors as these routes will pass across the territory of many states while the blocking of even a small section would negatively impact on the transit cargo flow as a whole.
In May 2002, Valeri Loshchinin, first deputy foreign minister and special envoy of RF President Vladimir Putin on the Georgian-Abkhaz settlement, came to Tbilisi on an official visit. In an interview with Georgian Rustavi-2 television, he said: “Destabilization in one of the countries (in the Caucasus.—M.N.) immediately affects the situation in another country, including Russia.” Conversely, the same could be said about improvement of the situation in one of the Caucasian republics. In other words, economic revival of one country will expedite economic contacts with neighboring states. Meanwhile, the development of transport infrastructure and improvement of political and economic relations between the countries in the region is bound to lessen ethnic tension in problem areas.
Alas, thus far none of the three countries in the Southern Caucasus is able to cut the knot of outstanding problems and conflicts. For its part, Russia, which often talks about its strategic interests in the region, is taking virtually no practical steps to alleviate tension in its hot spots. Unfortunately, actions by Russian politicians oftentimes lack logic. By keeping conflicts in the Southern Caucasus, above all in Abkhazia, smoldering, Moscow shuts itself out from participation in major international projects, dooming Armenia, its sole ally in the region, to enclave status.
Russia continues to maintain its presence in Abkhazia, dragging its feet on the settlement in order to have leverage to pressure Georgia. What could Moscow get by moving in this direction? A creeping, and then possibly “legitimate,” annexation of Abkhazia? Given Russia’s vast natural resources and its vast territory, this is a drop in the bucket. Even so, there are big question marks over the possible “incorporation” of the Abkhaz autonomy into Russia while first losses resulting from such policy are already there for all to see. The Kremlin has for a long time to come, if not forever, lost its influence in Georgia—the most important country in the Caucasus. In addition, Russian diplomats have deprived their state of a transport corridor not only with Armenia but also with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey. The resultant damage to Moscow has yet to be assessed.
One is only left to hope that sooner or later, Russian diplomacy will abandon the legacy of Great Powerism and become more pragmatic.
1 Georgian Transport System, Vols 1, 2, January 2000.
2 Kavkazskiy aktsent, No. 6 (55), 2002.
3 See: Kavkazskiy aktsent, No. 10 (59), 2002.
4 Golos Armenii, No. 32, 2002.
5 See: Komsomolskaia pravda v Gruzii, No. 31 (164), 2001.