The war in Georgia from the perspective of Warsaw and Kiev

The Georgia-Russia war which took place in August this year disturbed the political equilibrium far beyond the borders of the Caucasus. Its unexpected outbreak revealed the inability of the international community (both the European Union and the United States), to judge the situation correctly or to react adequately.

Russia’s return to imperialist tendencies, observed in Moscow for some time, caused concern among the political elites and societies of the post-soviet block. The outbreak of war in Georgia only heightened these worries. The countries most actively engaged in the Georgian conflict included Poland and Ukraine. Both countries and their Presidents in particular have maintained close, even friendly relations with President Saakashvili. In both countries, society clearly sided with Georgia during the conflict. In both Warsaw and Kiev, appraisal of the conflict became the subject of an internal political battle: the strong reaction of President Kaczynski differed from the more moderate reaction of Donald Tusk’s government. Similarly in Ukraine, where President Yushchenko visited Tbilisi on August 11th with a delegation of the Presidents of Poland and the Baltic countries, while Julia Tymoshenko’s government, believed to be more loyal to Moscow,
abstained from making any statement of support for either side.

Following the events in Georgia, Poland’s position on the European arena was strengthened and Poland’s local expertise and engagement in Eastern Europe was acknowledged. Ukraine, and similarly Georgia found themselves the centre of interest among the political elites of both the EU and the USA.

Despite the similarities between the situations of Poland and Ukraine, there are also a number of differences. These result, among others, from differences in the countries’ membership status of NATO and the EU and different economic-ethnic dependencies and connections with Russia.

The invited experts discussed the consequences and challenges facing Poland, Ukraine and the EU after the Georgia conflict based on the questions: How does Polish and Ukrainian society perceive the conflict? What were the consequences of the Georgia-Russia conflict for internal political debate? What will be the consequences of the events in Georgia for Polish-Ukrainian relations within the framework of the European Union’s neighbourhood policy? What is the future for the relations of these two countries and of the EU with Russia? The speakers were: Yuri Scherbak, Institute for Sustainable Development of Ukraine, Kiev, Oleksandr Sushko, Institute of Transatlantic Cooperation, Kiev, Paweł Świeboda, demosEUROPA, Warsaw, Sami Andoura, EGMONT, the Royal Institute for International Relations, Brussels and the chairman was Prof. Wawrzyniec Konarski – Politologist, Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities and University of Warsaw.

Programme (pdf, 1 page, 67 kB)
Report (pdf, 16 pages, 117 kB))
The conflict in Georgia and its implications for the region – the Polish perspective, by Paweł Świeboda (pdf, 3 pages, 131 kB))
The end of “International order –1991”: Impact of 2008 Russia-Georgia war on Ukraine, by Oleksandr Sushko (pdf, 5 pages, 40 kB)
Ten Theses about the Russian-Georgian Conflict: A View from Ukraine, by Juri Szczerbak  (pdf, 3 pages, 27 kB)