by Giorgi Lomsadze
As the European Union and United States debate their ties with Belarus, Tbilisi is hoping that any cold shoulder from the West won't encourage Minsk to heed Moscow's entreaties and recognize breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
One Belarusian analyst is advising that the outside world perhaps should rein in those hopes. Facing the threat of possible EU and US sanctions, President Alexander Lukashenko may try to find an alternative political foothold in Moscow, but the road to the Kremlin's heart goes through recognition of Russia's two proteges in the South Caucasus, Belarusian Center for European Studies analyst Pavel Wusav commented to Belsat TV.
Moscow has pressured Belarus to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as countries independent from Georgia, but Lukashenko, so far, has declined. Claiming that Moscow has a recording of Lukashenko's "commitment" to recognize the two regions' independence, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has alleged that "Russia does not bargain with its principles."
These developments are closely watched in Tbilisi, which hurried to congratulate Lukashenko on his disputed December 2010 reelection in hopes that he will stay the course. "We are confident that Minsk will not raise the topic of recognition of the occupied territories," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze asserted on January 24.