Friday, September 02, 2005

Russia Demands that Georgia Release Supplies Destined for Peacekeepers
So much for the happy report from yesterday about meeting withdrawal deadlines. The Russian Min Foreign Affairs demanded that Georgia release confiscated supplies destined for peacekeeping forces in Abkazhiya and cease provocations. "Such actions violate CIS peacekeepers' rights of transit, their status, privileges and immunities - (rights and privileges) that are analogous to those of UN peacekeepers."
At last report some of the items had been released, others were nowhere to be found.

link to the Pravda article

It's amazing something like this can become an "international incident." Based on my experience, here's what probably happened - the Russians tried to transit the borders of another country (Georgia), asserting their "rights and privileges," and Joe Blow Dugashvili the border guard says - "this is my post, I have the authority to let you and your gear pass or not, I'll decide what rights and privileges you have" It quickly escalates into a clash of egos. The same thing happened to our team outside of Ulan-Ude once when we were trying to leave Buryatia (Russia). We insisted certain bags had "diplomatic immunity" and were not subject to inspection - the local customs guy, who had the authority to give clearance for our departure felt that he had the right to inspect them. Heels dug in, "rights" were asserted, and tempers flared. We finally calmed down and reached a compromise - (we opened the bags to allow a visual inspection of our gear but did not allow him to handle anything.

I learned an important lesson from that. Respect people's space. In life you will come across many people who have very little control, power, authority in their lives - except for a little circle of officialdom in their jobs. Don't challenge what to them may be an important part of their dignity and self worth. Even though you may be (or think you are) an important, powerful person - don't challenge the little authority that the customs inspector, postal clerk, customer service rep, etc has - you diminish your own dignity by thinking yourself superior - and you can make life difficult for both of you. Give people the respect they deserve. We're often really not as important as we think we are.

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