ADA - When Eliso Chabrava arrived in the United States on Friday, the Russian invasion of her home country was in full swing.
So, when news of a cease-fire arrived Tuesday morning in an e-mail from one of her friends in Georgia, she was relieved - yet still concerned.
"I think about my family and friends and worry they are in danger," said Chabrava, who worked as an attorney in the Republic of Georgia. Chabrava is a master's student at Ohio Northern University's law school. "At this moment, it would be better for me to be with my family and friends in this situation to support them. ... I am happy people [at home] will have a chance to live in peace, but I don't think this is the end. ... The conflict zones still exist and something must be done."
In light of the conflict in Georgia, a former Soviet Union republic that is now a U.S. ally, Chabrava and ONU Law Professor Howard N. Fenton weighed in Tuesday morning on Russia's invasion of the country.
Fenton spent a year in the Republic of Georgia and he worked closely with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as an administrative law reform adviser to the governments of Georgia, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Chabrava has been a lawyer in Georgia since 2003 and she has co-authored numerous studies on law and human rights in the nation. She plans to continue to contribute to the process of legal reform in Georgia after she completes her 10-month program at ONU.
"This is a dangerous situation [in Georgia] but I feel optimistic about the agreement and that it will be sustained," Fenton said. "Hopefully the Russians will pull out. ... After that, they'll probably negotiate for 10 years."
Fenton said Russia has staunchly opposed Georgia's desire to join NATO and the European Union and especially the nation's alliance with the U.S. and the West.
The origin of the conflict, he said, appears to be from Georgia's efforts to reclaim one of two ethnic provinces that broke away in its south: South Ossetia.
"This is a real tragedy for the people of Georgia and their new democracy," Fenton said. "Russia has responded to Georgian efforts to assert its sovereignty in South Ossetia with wildly disproportionate force at the cost of many lives and the stability of the region. I stay in close touch with many friends and former students in Georgia and they are all very fearful of the widening scope of the war."
Fenton said the United States, although a supporter and ally of Georgia, has its "hands tied" in the situation and all it can do is express strong opposition.
"Russia is very powerful in this situation," he said. "The U.S. isn't in a position to make Russia stop."
Chabrava, who looks forward to returning home after a "long period of time," said she'd like to see Georgia reunited and its "territorial integrity restored" because it will help the country in many ways, especially its economy.
Still, she said, the cease-fire is very new and she isn't sure "if it will hold."
Fenton agrees and is optimistic.
"I think it will be a stalemate without any shooting," Fenton said. "Right now, that's the best we can hope for."