Aftermath of war in the Caucasus
Madam, - Russia's invasion of Georgia poses some interesting questions for Ireland's policies on energy security and neutrality .
The need to ensure European energy security, currently heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas, is likely to mean that nuclear energy will become a much more attractive option. Ireland cannot be immune from such considerations.
Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan's promised "debate" on nuclear power may not prove to be the foregone conclusion he appears to think it is.
Ireland's neutrality is copper-fastened by our commitment to become involved only in foreign missions sanctioned by a resolution of the UN Security Council. Yet what is the basis for the moral authority of that body, as currently constituted? China, France, Russia, UK and the US, the five permanent members of that council, each holds a veto over any such resolution. China is in the dock over human rights in general and Tibet in particular. France has recently been indicted by the Rwandan government over its alleged complicity in the 1994 genocide in that country. Russia has demonstrated in Chechnya that it will be utterly ruthless in defending its own interests. Russia's action in Georgia, to date, is only in the halfpenny place compared with Chechnya. The UK and US bypassed the UN for their 2003 invasion of Iraq, while the US continues to defy international law through the ongoing operation of Guantanamo and its policy of extraordinary rendition.
Churchill's famous dictum that "jaw jaw is better than war war" is still valid and it is undoubtedly worthwhile to have a forum such as the UN for "jaw-jawing" among the major powers.
But the moral authority of the permanent members of the UN Security Council must now be threadbare at best. It's almost as if the lunatics have taken over the asylum. Surely it's time for Ireland to behave like a mature democracy and take its direction from our own moral compass? - Yours, etc,
Madam, - As a Georgian living in Ireland, I would like to thank the Irish people for their support of my country in recent days. Our countries are alike in many ways: hospitable, proud, fun-loving and democratic.
However, I am upset to hear it said in the news that Georgia started this conflict. I don't believe it. Does it make sense that a small, powerless nation would start a war with great Russia? Does it make sense that we who long to be part of Nato and the EU would lessen our chances by initiating a military action? Does it make sense that to defend Russians, Russia is bombing Georgian cities where a lot of Russians live? Today, Georgians and Russians continue to live together in peace in Georgia. We know that this crisis is not the ordinary Russians' fault but a matter of Russian politics.
I have also heard that if those living in South Ossetia (in Georgian called Samachablo) or Abkhazia were to vote on independence they would choose not to be part of Georgia. That is only because the ethnic Georgians have been displaced from their homes. A referendum today would not include these displaced Georgians. In Abkhazia alone in the 1990s, 250,000 Georgians were forced to leave their homes.
We Georgians desire to return to our homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. We long to live together again in peace as we did before Russia's desire to build a new Soviet Union created the current tensions in the area.
We hope and pray that peace will be returned to Georgia and that all those who have been displaced during this and previous conflicts in the region will return to their homes. - Yours, etc,
Mount Argus Park,
Madam, - I agree with J.A. Barnwell's comments (August 15th)about the coming international soccer match in Georgia.
I go a step further and recommend that Ireland and the FAI should decide to go ahead with the match in solidarity with all those killed and injured - Georgians, Ossetians and Russians. As many Irish people as possible should be encouraged to travel to this match in Tbilisi. Perhaps Ryanair and Aer Lingus could provide cheap chartered flights. The FAI should immediately withdraw its request for an alternative venue.
Many of the mistakes that unfolded in the Balkans after the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in 1991 are now being repeated in the Caucasus. The lessons of history are that many learn nothing from history. - Yours, etc,