A year ago, the EU helped mediate an end to a war that left 850 Georgians (including South Ossetians) and Russians dead and 138,000 displaced. Then, for the first time in its history, the EU created an independent fact-finding commission to determine what went so badly wrong and how to avoid a repetition. The report is now public, and it has important lessons for Europe, writes Heidi Tagliavini, who led the EU investigation into the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia.
At a time when preventive diplomacy is rightly seen as a priority, it must be said that the conflict of 2008 was predictable and preventable, Ms Tagliavini writes. Today, everybody has lost: Georgia is divided; the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are recognized only by a handful of countries; and, most importantly, more than 35,000 people are in forced displacement for an indefinite future. The report shows that the forces of unilateralism and violence are still very much a part of Europe’s political landscape. A stable European order has to be based on the rule of law and a genuine commitment to multilateralism, Ms Tagliavini concludes.
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