Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tension Rising in Caucasus


At the same time as the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan Aliyev and Kocharyan are meeting at Rambouillet Castle outside Paris to see if they can reach at the least a partial accomodation on the hotly contested issue of Nagorno-Karabach, tension seems to be on the rise in other parts of the Caucasus.

In Northern Caucasus - within Russia - tensions is definitely increasing. In recent days there have been a battle between Russian forces and different rebel forces at the village of Tukvi-Mektab in the Stavropol region that seems to have left more than 20 dead.

It's not only Chechnya - it's large part of Northern Caucasus and adjacent areas of Russia that are becoming tense and dangereous.

In South Ossetia - one of the two break-away areas of Georgia - the last few days have also seen increased tension.

It's difficult from a distance to really make out the sequence of events, but the increase in tension is obvious. Mutual accusations are flying through the air, and harsh words are coming out of both Tbilisi and Moscow.

A factor affecting the situation is that at this time of the year South Ossetia is isolated from North Ossetia and Russia by snow in the high Caucasus mountain passes. Access is only through Georgia.

A deal over Nagorno-Karabach would be of great importance, also from a wider perspective. It could conceivable open up also for a normalisation of relations between Turkey and Armenia, perhaps even opening up the now closed border between the two nations.

But elsewhere in this volatile region of rich history and cultural mosaic tensions seems to be on the increase.

Watch out! Posted by Picasa