Dushanbe Diplomacy

At this week’s summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russian president Medvedev was reportedly seeking support for his country’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. If that’s true, he can’t be the mastermind he’s sometimes alleged to be in the conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Surely he knows that “territorial integrity” is one of the PRC’s favorite phrases in the lexicon of contemporary diplomacy. Surely he knows that China sees Tibet as a matter of territorial integrity. Surely he knows that the PRC sees Taiwan as a matter of territorial integrity. He may not know that one of the recurring themes of Chinese history is territorial breakup, but surely he has advisors who do, and who should have told him that asking China to back the undoing of territorial integrity as a norm of interstate relations is asking for a rebuff.

The Organization’s communique split the difference, saying “[We] urge the sides to solve existing problems peacefully, through dialogue, and to make efforts facilitating reconciliation and talks.” They added, “The SCO states welcome the adoption in Moscow on August 12 of six principles of settling the conflict in South Ossetia and support Russia’s active role in contributing to peace and cooperation in the region.” The “active role” has to count as a win for Russia, but the absence of any hint of recognition or support for recognition must surely count as a loss. It’s surprising that Russia sought it at all.

9 thoughts on “Dushanbe Diplomacy

  1. As a side note, it was interesting to read Christopher Hitchens’ recollection of his younger self at the time of the Prague crisis in 1968. Note his observation that China at the time condemned the Soviet intervention. So maybe people with long memories aren’t so surprised that the Chinese won’t endorse the Georgia intervention either.

  2. The links are to news/analysis pieces by a cathlic service form Iraly and by Bloomberg.

    Is there any statement from the Russian side that they really tried to get support?

  3. Pingback: Sovereignty out the window? « The 8th Circle

  4. Don’t expect the Russian government to say “Gosh, we really wanted Chinese support but couldn’t get it.” But reports all around suggest that’s the case. Plus, who put SO and Abk on the agenda for the communique if not the Russians? Uzbekistan?

    “The summit this past week of the regional security group, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – which groups Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and also includes Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan and India as observers – gave Russia only soft support and did not endorse the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia had hoped to use the SCO to demonstrate that it has support among states even while the EU is considering sanctions against Moscow.

    In the SCO, however, Central Asians could hide behind China, which has made it clear that under no circumstances is it prepared to support any form of separatism. The SCO, in fact, was created in part to resist separatism in Central Asia and elsewhere.” — Oksana Antonenko, International Herald Tribune, August 29, 2008

    Google around a bit, there’s certainly more where that came from.

  5. The western press is making this bigger than is warranted.

    I doubt Russia expected totally agreement with what happened, especially given China’s position and it’s problems. However, they didn’t want a comdamnation from them. The got what they expected, but not more, and didn’t get what they surely wanted to avoid.

    Maybe the EU and NATO should run over and beg for them to support their violation of Serbia’s sovereignty now and see what happens.

    Afterall, the violation of Serbia’s sovereignty is also dead in the UNSC due to the Chinese position, as well as Russia’s. The Chinese don’t even have to worry about the Olympics anymore.

    Expect action in Xinjiang in the very near future (if it even makes the news). It may just be an action of silent arrests. Perhaps the EU and NATO should intervene on that too. Or, given their position on Georgia, perhaps they are OK with crushing guerilla movements and the civilians thereabouts now. Bi-polar policymakers, like Solano, Cheney, Bildt, and Bush are so interesting.

  6. well, the SCO “support the active role of Russia in assisting peace and cooperation in the region,”

    “Active role” like in the “active role” Russia took earlier this month.

    I have no idea how all the “western” news and and “analysts” can interpret that as something negative for Russia. It is completely U.S. spin with no regard to reality.

  7. B:

    Take into account that East Europe is scared shitless of re-born of Russian expansionism, real or imaginable. In this case it is better to over-react than be sorry afterwards. Same applies to America, plus distress to realize that global superpower fades at borders of regional superpower.

    Hysterics will pass, hopefully.

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