Why did the Foreign Ministers of G7 not remember Georgia during their 23 April 2018 Toronto Meeting?
Author: Amb. Valeri Chechelashvili, Senior Fellow at Rondeli Foundation
The G7 meetings are always at the forefront of the world’s attention. This is entirely understandable, since this group represents one of the powerful formats leading developments in the world. Its decisions have significant influence on the international relations system. The documents jointly adopted by the group are highly important. The case of presenting the problems of any country in them is considered to be a serious diplomatic achievement. The decisions of the group are reinforced and strengthened by the fact that it is based upon the common system of values and principles of cooperation.
The latest meeting in Toronto turned out to be quite fruitful. It was held in two parallel formats. The Foreign and Defense Ministers adopted a joint statement with two attached documents, describing the obligations of the G7 in two directions: a) protecting democracy – reacting to external threats and b) deterring individual foreign terrorists (See: https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2018/04/g7-ministerial-meeting-building-a-more-peaceful-and-secure-world.html). On the other hand, on 23 April the Foreign Ministers adopted a joint communiqué. It is a 61-point document in four chapters, containing practically all issues on the world agenda (See: https://g7.gc.ca/en/g7-presidency/themes/building-peaceful-secure-world/g7-ministerial-meeting/g7-foreign-ministers-joint-communique/).
For us, the first chapter of the joint communiqué is especially interesting – a rule-based international order where, among other issues, the talk is about aggressive policies of Russia in its neighborhood, more specifically in Ukraine. Point 17 of the document reads: “We reiterate our enduring support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. This includes our non-recognition of Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We decry the degraded human rights situation in the peninsula, and the violations and abuses committed against its population by Russia in Crimea. We fully support the efforts within the Normandy format and of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We are convinced that the only way a sustainable solution to the conflict can be reached is through the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Given Russia's responsibility in the conflict, we urge Russia to stabilize the security situation in the Donbas without delay. We recall that the duration of Donbas-related economic sanctions is clearly linked to Russia's complete and irreversible implementation of the Minsk Agreements. These sanctions can be rolled back only if Russia truly fulfills its commitments, but we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures should Russia's actions so require.”
It is clear that Georgia’s problems fully meet the rhetoric of the presented paragraph and including them in the document would not be difficult either politically or technically.
The G7 Foreign Ministers agreed these clauses with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Mr. Pavlo Klimkin, who attended the special session of the meeting. This, in itself, represents a serious victory of the Ukrainian diplomacy.
Naturally, due to this reason among others, the Toronto meeting of the G7 caused serious Russian discontent. It was branded as a meeting of “rusophobes” which did not have any serious topics to consider other than Russia (See: http://www.mk.ru/politics/2018/04/24/lavrov-rasskazal-o-rusofobskikh-posidelkakh-chlenov-g7-v-toronto.html), which of course is a clear lie. We talked about this is the beginning of the letter…
The document says nothing about Georgia. Naturally, our delegation did not participate in the sessions either.
Was it possible for our representative to attend the Toronto meetings or, even without participation, lobby a clause that would be beneficial to Georgia? I believe it was possible to do so. I will present several arguments in defense of this position:
First. The context of Georgia would better argue in favor of the G7’s position towards Russia, as it would present a whole, not just episodic picture of Russia’s violations of the norms and principles of international law. The war waged by Russia in Eastern Ukraine is the second one in Europe in the 21st century. The first one was waged against Georgia in 2008. This cannot be forgotten. A complex approach presents the positions towards Russia more correctly.
Second. Some time ago, during the Georgian Prime Minister’s official visit in Kyiv, the President of Ukraine offered us to actively agree our positions towards Russia, including the component of sanctions. Had we utilized this proposition, worked actively with the Ukrainian diplomacy and delegated appropriate rights to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, he would have defended our positions in Toronto. Such a standing would also work towards strengthening his own authority.
Third. On 4 April 2018, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia had a working visit in Washington, where, among other engagements, he met the Assistant Secretary of State, Wess Mitchell (See: http://www.mfa.gov.ge/News/%E2%80%8Bmikheil-janelidze-ashsh-is-sakhelmcifo-mdivnis-ta.aspx). I believe the parties should have discussed the upcoming meeting in Toronto as well, as it was in the interests of both of them to reveal as well as deter the aggressive policies of Russia in its neighborhood. It is notable that the 2017 December National Security Strategy of the United States puts the threat from Russia towards Ukraine and Georgia in the same context (See: http://nssarchive.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2017.pdf, page 47).
Fourth. Georgia joined the informal coalition of countries that expelled Russian diplomats after the Skripal Case. I am convinced that the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom visited our Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain the position of his government and request the expelling of Russian diplomats from Georgia. Georgia, entirely correctly, concurred with the arguments and took a consequent step – expelling a Russian diplomat. I believe, in this context, the United Kingdom would also have heeded our request regarding the format of the Toronto meeting as well as the content of the communiqué produced there, if, of course, such a request had been voiced.
Fifth. Georgia has experienced and highly qualified Ambassadors in all four capitals mentioned above – Washington, London, Ottawa and Kyiv. Their potential was probably not used fully in anticipation to the Toronto meeting.
As a result, we failed to become the participants of Ukraine’s diplomatic victory.
This situation can be righted. The main event of the Canadian Chairmanship of the G7 – a meeting on the level of the heads of states, is planned for 8-9 June in the Charlevoix region in Quebec, Canada. In case of active diplomatic efforts, it is entirely possible for a position supporting Georgia to be placed in its concluding document…
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