Posted by: greengorilla47 | 27/08/2008

Why I had to Recognise Georgia’s Breakaway Regions
By Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation

27/08/08 “Financial Times” — – On Tuesday Russia recognised the independence of the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It was not a step taken lightly, or without full consideration of the consequences. But all possible outcomes had to be weighed against a sober understanding of the situation – the histories of the Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples, their freely expressed desire for independence, the tragic events of the past weeks and international precedents for such a move.

Not all of the world’s nations have their own statehood. Many exist happily within boundaries shared with other nations. The Russian Federation is an example of largely harmonious coexistence by many dozens of nations and nationalities. But some nations find it impossible to live under the tutelage of another. Relations between nations living “under one roof” need to be handled with the utmost sensitivity.

After the collapse of communism, Russia reconciled itself to the “loss” of 14 former Soviet republics, which became states in their own right, even though some 25m Russians were left stranded in countries no longer their own. Some of those nations were unable to treat their own minorities with the respect they deserved. Georgia immediately stripped its “autonomous regions” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of their autonomy.

Can you imagine what it was like for the Abkhaz people to have their university in Sukhumi closed down by the Tbilisi government on the grounds that they allegedly had no proper language or history or culture and so did not need a university? The newly independent Georgia inflicted a vicious war on its minority nations, displacing thousands of people and sowing seeds of discontent that could only grow. These were tinderboxes, right on Russia’s doorstep, which Russian peacekeepers strove to keep from igniting.

Independence Celebrations

But the west, ignoring the delicacy of the situation, unwittingly (or wittingly) fed the hopes of the South Ossetians and Abkhazians for freedom. They clasped to their bosom a Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, whose first move was to crush the autonomy of another region, Adjaria, and made no secret of his intention to squash the Ossetians and Abkhazians.

Meanwhile, ignoring Russia’s warnings, western countries rushed to recognise Kosovo’s illegal declaration of independence from Serbia

We argued consistently that it would be impossible, after that, to tell the Abkhazians and Ossetians (and dozens of other groups around the world) that what was good for the Kosovo Albanians was not good for them. In international relations, you cannot have one rule for some and another rule for others.

Seeing the warning signs, we persistently tried to persuade the Georgians to sign an agreement on the non-use of force with the Ossetians and Abkhazians. Mr Saakashvili refused. On the night of August 7-8 we found out why.

Only a madman could have taken such a gamble. Did he believe Russia would stand idly by as he launched an all-out assault on the sleeping city of Tskhinvali, murdering hundreds of peaceful civilians, most of them Russian citizens? Did he believe Russia would stand by as his “peacekeeping” troops fired on Russian comrades with whom they were supposed to be preventing trouble in South Ossetia?

Russia had no option but to crush the attack to save lives. This was not a war of our choice. We have no designs on Georgian territory. Our troops entered Georgia to destroy bases from which the attack was launched and then left. We restored the peace but could not calm the fears and aspirations of the South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples – not when Mr Saakashvili continued (with the complicity and encouragement of the US and some other Nato members) to talk of rearming his forces and reclaiming “Georgian territory”. The presidents of the two republics appealed to Russia to recognise their independence.

A heavy decision weighed on my shoulders. Taking into account the freely expressed views of the Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples, and based on the principles of the United Nations charter and other documents of international law, I signed a decree on the Russian Federation’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I sincerely hope that the Georgian people, to whom we feel historic friendship and sympathy, will one day have leaders they deserve, who care about their country and who develop mutually respectful relations with all the peoples in the Caucasus. Russia is ready to support the achievement of such a goal.


Medvedev exclusive: We’re not afraid of Cold War

With the Russian parliament backing the independence of the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, President Dmitry Medvedev gives his views on the issue in an exclusive interview with RT. (more)

‘Western lectures puzzle us’: Lavrov

Beijing has expressed concern over stability in the Caucasus region but has refrained from outright condemnation of Russia’s actions. The response from most countries in the West has been far more critical. Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov reacted by blaming them for disregarding Russian casualties. (more)

Why America sings the Georgia blues

I had no intention or desire to write about Georgia’s Olympic War for the second week in a row until I stumbled upon the YouTube video of Mikheil Saakashvili chatting on the telephone while munching nervously on his tie just before an interview with the BBC. Thank you, British Broadcasting Corporation, your blatantly biased reporting on the Georgia-Russia conflict for the past two weeks on the side of – guess who? – has just been totally exonerated. (more)

Russia ‘yes’ to more international observers in conflict zone

Russia will not object to more international observers being sent to guarantee peace and security in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the comments at the summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation in the Tajik capital Dushanbe. (more)

Russian warship eases Abkhazian fears of NATO

On Wednesday, Abkhazia put on a welcome for a Russian warship arriving in its capital’s port. The flagship cruiser ’Moskva’ dropped anchor in Sukhum, and joins two other Russian vessels in the town’s port. It’s hoped their arrival will ease locals fears about NATO’s increased presence nearby. (more)

Russia in full compliance with Georgia peace deal – Lavrov

DUSHANBE, August 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is adhering to the six points of the original version of a peace deal brokered by France during Russia’s recent conflict with Georgia over breakaway South Ossetia, the foreign minister said on Wednesday. (more)

Russian analyst points to link between Georgian attack and Iran

MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) – A senior Russian military analyst said on Wednesday that the U.S. and NATO by arming Tbilisi used the conflict in Georgia as a dress rehearsal for a future military operation in Iran. (more)


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