PHOTO FOCUS STORY PROMISES VS. RESULTS AT A GLANCE RELATED STORIES
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The Saakashvili government initially targeted Shida Kartli’s contraband trade with neighboring South Ossetia as a way to get the breakaway territory to return to the Georgian fold. Critics argue that the strategy has backfired. Check out four promises and their results.

PROMISE / RESULT   1 of 4

PROMISE: 2005 - “If during the Soviet period South Ossetia enjoyed an old form of Soviet autonomy, today, under this plan, it will enjoy a much more fair form, even broader in fact than that accorded to the Republic of North Ossetia in Russia. Specifically, our plan envisions a constitutional guarantee of autonomous status that includes the right to freely and directly elected local self-governance, including an executive branch and a parliament for South Ossetia.”

- President Mikheil Saakashvili
January 26, 2005
South Ossetia Peace Initiative

RESULT: 2005 - The de facto president of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoiti, promptly rejected President Saakashvili’s initiative and stated that: “To date the discussion of the status of the Republic of South Ossetia is not on the agenda. We see nothing new or constructive in the proposals of Mikheil Saakashvili. This is an attempt to make the situation in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone worse, to whip it up.”

PROMISE / RESULT   2 of 4

PROMISE: 2004 - “Contraband from Tskhinvali, and the South Ossetian region in general, has been practically blocked. According to my calculations, this will bring an extra 200-250 million lari [$110-137 million] to the Georgian budget, once we have blocked contraband in Samegrelo [region bordering Abkhazia]. Most of that money will be spent on strengthening our state agencies, including, in the first place, our police and military structures, so that there is peace and our population is protected.”

- President Mikheil Saakashvili
June 12, 2004

RESULT: 2005 - Even with the closure of Georgia’s Ergneti market, a key contraband hub, smuggling continues. With no border or customs controls at Roki tunnel, a contraband highway from Russia, Ossetians still deliver goods to Shida Kartli and other Georgian regions unimpeded. In Shida Kartli, officials put contraband trade levels at 20 percent of their pre-summer 2004 levels.

PROMISE / RESULT   3 of 4

PROMISE: 2004 - In his August 19 speech announcing the withdrawal of Georgian forces from South Ossetia, Saakashvili stated: “We will leave the best 500 soldiers in our villages under the peacekeepers’ quota that will defend Georgian villages from the attacks and possible provocations…. I want to confirm our firm decision to protect population of our villages and … our peacekeeping battalion … will be manned with our best soldiers.”

RESULT: 2005 - Since December 2004, Georgia has removed the vast majority of its peacekeepers from South Ossetia – and even brought numbers lower than pre-anti-contraband campaign levels. In a March interview, Levan Nikoleishvili, chief of the general staff, put the number of Georgian peacekeepers in South Ossetia at “approximately 30.” Residents of Georgian villages complain that the Georgian government has now left them “unprotected.”

PROMISE / RESULT   4 of 4

PROMISE: 2004 - After regaining Ajaria, President Saakashvili turned towards South Ossetia with a May 31 speech that outlined his carrot-and-stick approach to the region. Despite the mobilization of interior ministry troops along the South Ossetia conflict zone, Saakashvili promised no war, stating “We will not allow any military action there. We do not intend to attack anyone.”

RESULT: 2004 - By July, Georgia’s anti-contraband campaign had evolved into a small-scale conflict after Interior Ministry troops confiscated Russian missiles en route to South Ossetia. In response, armed Ossetians entered Georgian territory and detained 38 policemen from the village of Vanati. As the situation deteriorated, Georgia ordered its troops to withdraw from South Ossetia on August 19.

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