19 August 2008
Security Council
SC/9429

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5961st Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL STEPS BACK FROM FRENCH-LED DRAFT RESOLUTION, AS RUSSIAN DELEGATE


SAYS IT RE-INTERPRETS ‘ MOSCOW PEACE PLAN’ FOR PROPAGANDA PURPOSES

 


Most speakers in the Security Council today expressed support for a French-sponsored draft resolution to put an end to the conflict in Georgia, but Russia’s representative rejected the text, saying it separated individual elements of the six-point “Moscow peace plan” and re-interpreted them for propaganda purposes.


Brokered by France on behalf of the European Union, the plan was announced in Moscow on 12 August.  The agreement includes the renunciation of the use of force, immediate cessation of hostilities, free access to humanitarian aid and withdrawal of forces to pre-conflict positions, while allowing Russia to implement “additional security measures”, and the convening of an international discussion on security arrangements for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


During the meeting called by France, the Russian representative called on the Council to be guided by objective criteria and not the desire to justify the initiators of the aggression.  He said the Russian Federation was carrying out the obligations in keeping with the plan.  The Council should focus on the approval of the plan, which had been worked out by the Presidents of Russia and France.  It contained six clear, consistent and logically interconnected principles needed to stabilize the situation.


It was counterproductive to separate individual elements of that plan and to interpret them for political propaganda, he said.  That was why Russia could not support the draft presented by France.  That country had referred to only two of the six principles, and even then, everything had been “mixed up” and additional epithets had been introduced.  During all their work together, there had been an understanding that the plan should be clearly reflected in the draft resolution.


France’s representative said that the solution to the problem, above all, should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, and France had circulated a “very simple and direct” draft resolution to that effect.   France believed it was essential for the Council to express itself “in one voice” on the need to achieve peace in the region.  French officials, including President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on behalf of the European Union, had negotiated a settlement.  And while that agreement “isn’t everything”, it was a sound basis for ending hostilities and opening talks on a lasting solution.


He said that, while it was essential that arms were put down, withdrawal for military forces, especially those of the Russian Federation, was also essential.  However, since no movement was apparent in that regard, President Sarkozy yesterday had reminded Russian officials of the commitments they had made.  Still, information from the field had revealed that virtually nothing was occurring and, further, that Russian weapons had been introduced into the situation.  France and the European Union were more determined than ever to work on the ground to ensure a durable peace in the region.


The United Kingdom and United States also criticized Russia for keeping forces in Georgia and charged it with destroying the Georgian infrastructure and violating Georgian territory in continuing military action.


The representative of the United Kingdom said, in particular, that the Russian Federation had failed to implement its obligations under the agreement negotiated by the European Union, even though it had spoken publicly of its commitment to that agreement.  Russian forces were still maintaining their positions way beyond the conflict zones of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Despite Russia’s assertions that it was keeping the peace in Georgia, he wondered what justification there could be for its destruction of civilian and military infrastructure –- for destroying railway bridges and blocking civilian highways, in breach of the accord negotiated by the European Union.


“Let’s not pretend that this is anything other than a conflict between Russia and Georgia, which Russia has clearly won militarily,” he said, adding that Russia was now an occupier and would remain so until it withdrew its troops to its early August position.


The United States’ representative stressed that the Security Council was meeting today -- seven days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had agreed with President Sarkozy’s plan, four days after Georgia had officially agreed to it, three days after President Medvedev had signed it, two days after President Medvedev had promised to begin the withdrawal and 24 hours after that last promise was supposed to have taken effect.  Against the backdrop of Russia’s continued military offensive and diplomatic delaying tactics, the United States supported the French delegation’s draft calling for immediate compliance with the terms of the agreement, to which Russia, Georgia and other parties had subscribed, particularly the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia.


Calling on the Council to act decisively, Georgia’s representative said that the status of affairs in Georgia had not changed, despite the agreed ceasefire.  At the moment, the whole territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and towns on the territory of Georgia were under Russian occupation.  All those actions were aimed at destroying Georgia as a sovereign independent State, despite the stated commitment to stop the violence and withdraw from Georgian territory.


Statements of position were also made by the representatives of Italy, Croatia, Belgium and Costa Rica.


Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, briefed the Council on key developments. 


The meeting was called to order at 4:15 p.m. and adjourned at 5:33 p.m.


Briefings


B. LYNN PASCOE, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that the most important event that had occurred since his 11 August briefing to the Council had been agreement by the Russian and Georgian sides on six principles aimed at resolving the situation in South Ossetia.  Those principles included the commitment by all parties to renounce the use of force; the immediate cessation of all military action; free access to humanitarian aid; the withdrawal of Georgian forces to their bases; the withdrawal of Russian forces to their positions before the fighting began; and the convening of international discussion on security arrangements for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


He said that discussions between the sides were continuing and that the Secretary-General been engaged with all the parties.  The Secretary-General had called for cessation of all military actions and for free humanitarian access to those in need.  The Secretary-General had stressed that, now that the agreement had been signed, all of its principles needed to be fully implemented and all forces must withdraw to agreed positions.  Throughout the conflict, the Secretary-General had called for respect for Georgia’s sovereignty and integrity.  The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Jean Arnault, was on the ground in Georgia and the Secretary-General had dispatched Johan Verbeke of Belgium to Brussels as his representative for consultations with the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).


Earlier today, the Permanent Council of OSCE had taken a decision to deploy 20 additional military observers to Georgia, bringing to 28 the total number of their military observers, Mr. Pascoe said.  The aim was to bring the number to 100.  At the same time, South Ossetian authorities had declared that they would accept only Russian peacekeepers and that international peacekeepers would not be welcome.  Those authorities had asked Russia to set up a peacekeeping force.


Turning to the humanitarian situation, he confirmed that the United Nations had limited presence in the area and must therefore rely on equally limited sources for its information.  Press reports had made it clear that Russian troops remained in and around Gori.  At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said that full withdrawal would take three to four days and that its vanguard troops in Georgia would be the last to withdraw.  In addition, the Russian military had stated that Georgia had not returned all its troops to its military bases.


Mr. Pascoe said that, while reports indicated that more than 2,100 people had been killed in the conflict, Georgia disputed those figures.  In addition, it had been reported that some 60 civilian bodies had been recovered.  Official sources cited some 74 Russian Federation military and 215 Georgian military killed.  Thus far, some 69 civilians had been listed as missing or dead.  Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had reported serious human rights abuses and other organizations and observers had reported looting in and around Gori and elsewhere.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had dispatched an officer to provide advice to the United Nations country team and an assessment of the human rights situation.


Some 158,000 people had been displaced in all, and some 89,000 of those had been identified as being in need of immediate assistance, he continued.  According to available data, it appeared that about 50 per cent of the displaced population had been registered.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was headed to the region today to assess the situation.  At the same time, non-governmental organizations had complained that they faced obstacles gaining access to needy populations in and around South Ossetia, where the Russian Federation was undertaking a major emergency relief effort.  All United Nations agencies continued to call for unlimited humanitarian access.  The recent opening of an east-west humanitarian corridor was alleviating the situation somewhat.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had issued a flash appeal for $56 million for six months, and thus far, more than $20 million had been pledged.


Finally, he said that the Secretary-General continued to call for full implementation of the six principles agreed by the two sides.  That would allow for free humanitarian access, defuse tensions and offer hope towards finding a lasting solution.  The United Nations stood ready to support those efforts and to take part in discussions towards a settlement.


EDMOND MULET, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that, in a key development on 12-13 August, the Abkhaz side had launched a military operation in the upper Kodori valley.  No close combat had taken place, because the Georgian armed personnel in the Valley had withdrawn beforehand.  Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had accused Russia and the Abkhaz side of expelling the entire ethnic Georgian population from the valley.  The United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia’s (UNOMIG) team base in the upper Kodori remained closed.  The Mission was considering launching a patrol there to assess the situation.


He said that, during the previous week, the Abkhaz side -- on several occasions and despite warnings from UNOMIG not to do so –- had crossed the ceasefire line, causing a lot of agitation among the local Georgian population.  That crossing had taken place mainly in the areas of Ganmukhuri and Khurcha “pockets” along the ceasefire line on the Zugdidi side.  Occasionally, the Abkhaz had crossed over to Georgian villages in the north of the Zugdidi sector, but had withdrawn upon advice from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force.  One serious incident had occurred on 17 August, when two Abkhaz personnel had been killed and two more wounded as a result of an explosion of a radio-controlled landmine in the Ganmukhuri Patriotic Youth camp.


The Zugdidi town and district administrations, as well as the police, were functioning, he said.  The local population in the town had been reassured through the continuous UNOMIG presence and patrolling that, despite the tense situation, there was no direct threat to them.  People who had left the town at the beginning of last week had started returning home and, at the moment, it appeared that almost all of the population had returned to Zugdidi.  An issue of serious disconnect between the administration and CIS peacekeeping force remained the fact that the CIS peacekeeping force still occupied several buildings in Zugdidi.


The Mission had been able to monitor major movements of CIS and Russian troops along the main road M27 on the Zugdidi side, he continued.  It was assessed that some of those forces were concentrated along the southern edge of the zone of conflict.  UNOMIG was not in a position to confirm the number of those troops.  Outside the conflict zone, the Russian forces had reportedly conducted operations to destroy military assets at the Senaki military base and Poti harbour.  No targeting or damaging of public infrastructure had been reported.  UNOMIG continued patrolling in the Zugdidi sector and had resumed patrolling in the Gali sector, but, for the time being, along the main road only.

On 14 August, the Georgian Parliament had unanimously voted for Georgia’s withdrawal from CIS, he said.  The Parliament had also adopted, by unanimous vote, an appeal to the international community to replace the CIS peacekeepers by “international peace contingents”.  It had called on the international community to do its utmost to ensure that Russian military units immediately left the territory of Georgia.  Yesterday, Georgia’s Foreign Ministry had advised that it had sent a note to the CIS Executive Committee, notifying it of the aforesaid resolution and Georgia’s renunciation of all obligations related to its CIS membership as of 18 August.  A day earlier, the Abkhaz de facto foreign ministry had stated that it considered it necessary to maintain the presence of a considerable contingent of Russian peacekeepers on its territory as a security guarantor.


Statements


IRAKLI ALASANIA ( Georgia) said that, in his previous addresses, he had asked the Security Council to act swiftly to stop the aggression against his country.  Unfortunately, the status of affairs in Georgia had not changed, despite the agreed ceasefire.  At the moment, the whole territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and towns on the territory of Georgia were under Russian occupation.


He said that Russian forces were determined to devastate his country.  The targets of Russian armed forces included roads, bridges and the communications sector.  There had been attacks on ports and the Russian navy had destroyed the vessels of the Georgian coastguard.   Russia had also caused a shutdown of Georgian information sources for the rest of the world.  It had destroyed and looted military bases in Senaki and Gori.   Russia permanently conducted reconnaissance flights in sovereign Georgian territory.  Looting, destruction and murder had become customary and the population of Georgia was under constant threat.


All those actions were aimed at destroying Georgia as a sovereign independent State, despite the stated commitment to stop the violence and withdraw from Georgian territory, he said.  The total number of people killed had reached 250 on the Georgian side as of today, 69 of them civilians.  More than 1,469 people had been injured, and the death toll was expected to increase.


Concerning the humanitarian crisis in the territory occupied by Russian armed forces, he said that Moscow had decisively chosen ethnic cleansing, prosecution and slaughter.  Ethnic Georgians had been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter on Georgian territory.  According to Human Rights Watch, the remaining people in destroyed Georgian villages faced horrendous conditions.  De facto South Ossetian authorities would not let the Georgian population return to their homes and there were reports that they were burning houses of ethnic Georgians to assure that they had no place to return.  Following an attack on Borjomi, Russian forces had refused to provide access to fire-fighting aircraft and vehicles to put out the fire.  He thanked those who were providing much needed help; however, those actions were not as effective as they could be because of Russia’s refusal to provide humanitarian access.  Humanitarian relief should be provided to those in need without impediment.


Russian troops had invaded an independent country, and victims were numerous, he said.  Thousands had been left homeless.  Those actions had been performed under the aegis of a so-called peacekeeping operation.  Russian troops were annexing parts of an independent country.  After those barbaric actions, no arrangements would be acceptable to Georgia of which Russia was a guarantor.  His country was complying with the ceasefire and was fully committed to it.  He demanded the same from the other party.  The Russian Federation must withdraw its forces to the lines prior to 6 August.  The ceasefire had to be backed by a Security Council resolution.   Georgia was prepared to respond to any legitimate concerns of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but was still looking forward to certain conditions, which would only be possible after the end of occupation, when it was possible to discuss rebuilding.  He called on the Council to act decisively.


JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) said his delegation had called the meeting because it was “extremely concerned” by the current situation in Georgia.  After the fighting had begun, one thing had become clear: Georgia’s actions had been met with unreasonable force by the Russian Federation.  The ensuing situation was threatening peace and stability, not only among the countries involved, but in the entire region.  French officials, including President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on behalf of the European Union, had negotiated a settlement.  And while that agreement “isn’t everything”, it was a sound basis for ending hostilities and opening talks on a lasting solution.


He said that, while it was essential that arms were put down, withdrawal of military forces, especially those of the Russian Federation, was also essential.  However, since no movement in that regard was apparent, President Sarkozy had yesterday reminded Russian officials of the commitments they had made.  Still, information from the field had revealed that virtually nothing was occurring and, further, that Russian weapons had been introduced to the situation.  France and the European Union were more determined than ever to work on the ground to ensure a durable peace in the region.


During this difficult period, the international community must remain focused on the humanitarian situation, he continued, reminding all the parties to adhere to international norms regarding humanitarian access, including to internally displaced persons.  France hoped that a durable solution could be reached as soon as possible.  Such a solution, above all, should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.  France had circulated a “very simple and direct” draft resolution to that effect. It was essential for the Council to express itself “in one voice” on the need to achieve peace in the region.


ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) said his delegation was greatly concerned about the situation in and around Georgia.  The Council could not delay its action any longer.  There was an agreement in place that had been signed by all the major players and it must now be fully implemented.  The draft circulated by France aimed at nothing more than that.  While not taking sides in the matter, the Council, by acting on the text, must support Georgia’s territorial integrity, which was now in question.   Italy was ready and willing to contribute to the OSCE contingent, agreed earlier today.


ALEJANDRO WOLFF ( United States) said his country remained deeply concerned over the situation in Georgia.  He deplored the loss of life, civilian casualties and extensive damage to civilian facilities throughout the country.  His delegation had supported the call for an urgent meeting of the Council because of continuing Russian military operations against Georgia, despite the agreement by the parties to a ceasefire.


He said that, as of today, Russia’s occupying forces reportedly remained throughout Georgia, including in Poti, Senaki and Gori.  Those Russian forces continued to destroy civilian infrastructure, block Georgian highways and impede the functioning of a humanitarian corridor.  There were reports that international humanitarian organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), continued to be denied access by Russia to South Ossetia -– the region hardest hit by the conflict.  By denying access, Russia was preventing what UNHCR estimated to be 128,000 internally displaced persons and other civilians from receiving assistance, despite the cessation of hostilities and repeated appeals by humanitarian groups.


Among other disturbing reports from the areas under Russian control, he sited looting of Georgian facilities and destruction of essential infrastructure by Russian forces, which also allowed paramilitary bands to do the same.   Georgia’s main rail bridge near Kaspi had been blown up on 16 August.  Russian naval vessels were destroying Georgian ships and disrupting civilian shipping.  That could not continue.  He was gravely alarmed by the humanitarian situation, particularly in parts of Georgia under the de facto control of Russian forces and their irregulars, where international human rights groups had reported serious human rights abuses.  He demanded that Russian forces fulfil their responsibility to prevent such human rights violations and called for an immediate investigation into the atrocities that allegedly occurred behind Russian lines.


He said that statements by the so-called South Ossetian “President” Eduard Kokoity and other de facto officials regarding their intention to displace ethnic Georgians completely from South Ossetia were reprehensible and should be condemned by the international community.  Such gratuitous incitement of ethnic hatred had no place in the twenty-first century.


His delegation was ready to engage in international discussions on the modalities for security and stability in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said. Whatever the outcome of those discussions, one thing was clear: South Ossetia and Abkhazia lay within internationally recognized borders.  The Council had adopted numerous resolutions concerning Georgia.  Those texts were based on the premise that South Ossetia and Abkhazia remained within the borders of Georgia and that their underlying conflicts would be resolved through international negotiations.   Russia itself had endorsed those resolutions.


When the armed conflict had erupted, the Council had heard from Russia’s representative that his Government was acting to defend its peacekeepers and civilians in the South Ossetia region of Georgia.  Yet, the military actions Russia had undertaken continued to belie that claim.  Even in the early stages, Russia’s military offensive and political objectives had gone far beyond any reasonable or credible limit consistent with its claims.  Those objectives suggested Russian intention to weaken and subjugate Georgia, a sovereign country with a democratically elected Government, which posed no threat to Russia.


Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, acting on behalf of the European Union, had launched a diplomatic effort to attain a ceasefire, an effort which had the United States’ strong support, he said.  After Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had agreed to the proposed terms of a ceasefire, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had travelled to Tbilisi to obtain Georgia’s agreement.  President Saakashvili had approved the ceasefire terms on the understanding that his Government’s agreement would lead immediately to a cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian forces to the status quo ante of 6 August.  That had not happened.  Despite the Georgian agreement, the Russian military offensive had continued to expand.  Two days after the Georgian President had signed the agreement, the Russian President had undertaken to begin Russia’s withdrawal.  Russian operations had continued in an effort to consolidate its occupation and destroy Georgia’s infrastructure.


The Security Council was meeting today -- seven days after President Medvedev had agreed with President Sarkozy’s plan, four days after Georgia had officially agreed to it, three days after President Medvedev had signed it, two days after President Medvedev had promised to begin the withdrawal and 24 hours after that last promise was supposed to have taken effect.  Against the backdrop of Russia’s continued military offensive and diplomatic delaying tactics, he supported the French delegation’s draft resolution calling for immediate compliance with the terms of the agreement, to which Russia, Georgia and other parties had subscribed, particularly the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia.


JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said the Russian Federation had failed to implement its obligations under the agreement negotiated by the European Union, even though it had spoken publicly of its commitment to that agreement.  Further, Russian Federation forces were still maintaining their positions way beyond the conflict zones of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Despite Russia’s assertions that it was keeping the peace in Georgia, he wondered what justification there could be for its destruction of civilian and military infrastructure.  What justification could there be for destroying railway bridges and blocking civilian highways, in breach of the accord that had been negotiated by the European Union?


Indeed, he said, it was hard to see how Russia’s actions were consistent with the claims for the cause of its assault.  It was clear that this was a conflict between Russia and Georgia.  Claims of Russia as a peacekeeper in the events “were always doubtful” and its actions since the fighting had begun had proved that Russia was a party to the conflict.  “Let’s not pretend that this is anything other than a conflict between Russia and Georgia, which Russia has clearly won militarily,” he said, adding that Russia was now an occupier and would remain so until it withdrew its troops to their early August positions.


He went on to say that the United Kingdom was also very disturbed by reports of killing and ethnic cleansing in areas controlled by Russian forces, as well as what now appeared to be the forced eviction of all ethnic Georgians from South Ossetia.  The Russian Federation’s actions raised questions about its intentions and commitment to some of the founding principles of the United Nations and decisions of the Security Council, which had repeatedly supported Georgia’s sovereignty and integrity.  The Russian Federation must withdraw its troops, and there could be no reason for further delay.


RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) welcomed the six-principle agreement to end the hostilities and reach a political solution to the conflict.  All military action must cease and all forces must return to the positions they had held prior to the outbreak of hostilities.  He called on the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw from those areas it had entered on 7 August and on Georgia to return to its usual bases.  He welcomed the decision of the Permanent Council of OSCE to deploy 20 additional observers.


Continuing, he expressed concern over the humanitarian situation on the ground, deploring civilian casualties.   Croatia had undertaken measures in concert with international organizations to provide assistance to the civilian population on the ground.  He called on the parties to make sure assistance reached those in need.  He also reiterated his support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, recognized by Security Council resolutions.   Croatia supported the draft resolution prepared by France as a first recognition of the six-point agreement.  He hoped it could be adopted expeditiously.


VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that at one of the previous meetings he had asked the representative of the United States what, in his opinion, the Security Council was supposed to deal with.  Today, it was clear why he had received no answer.  In the statements by the United States and some others, there was propaganda to the detriment of important political work of the Council.  The convening of today’s meeting had been initiated under the influence of today’s meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  The final statement of that meeting looked biased; it did not include a single word as to who had initiated the aggression, who had armed Georgia and who had consistently blocked Russia’s proposals to conclude a binding agreement on the non-use of force.  He had an impression that behind all that was the wish to distract attention from the Russian-French peace initiative, which aimed to end the conflict and open the way to resolving the issue.


Today, the Council had witnessed yet another attempt to turn things on their head, he continued.  Once more, Russia had been accused of the most carnal sins, including wild accusations.  However, he wanted to refer to the key issue, which France had raised regarding the draft resolution proposed for adoption.  Also, in light of the remarks made today, he could not fail to say a few words on the humanitarian situation on the ground; nobody was doing as much as Russia, not just in Tskhinvali, but also in some other areas of Georgia.  For example, in the city of Gori, in close vicinity of South Ossetia, his Government had been feeding the population and it had been calling on Georgian authorities to do the same.  As for international humanitarian organizations, Russia was in contact with them, and he hoped cooperation with those organizations would be established and that they would be able to carry out their humanitarian work.  Some points had been made today on the basis of unchecked information and misinformation.


The whole region had been destroyed, owing to the adventurist actions of Georgia, he said, whereas Russia bore full responsibility for its actions.  While some illegal actions could not be excluded, Russia sought to stop them if it bore witness to them.  Today, the Council was holding its sixth meeting on the conflict.  The first had been initiated when Russia had warned that Georgia was on the threshold of unleashing a military adventure.  Several other meetings had followed in the search for a settlement.  Following the presentation of the six-point peace plan, the task of the Council today was to support that plan.  However, the propaganda presented today was moving the Council away from performing its mission.


The essence of the matter was that Russia was carrying out its obligations in keeping with the Moscow six-point peace plan, he continued.  Its armed forces had guaranteed a pullback, and as of today, preparations were under way for peacekeeping posts, which had been set up as an additional security measure in the zone of the peacekeeping operation, in accordance with the Moscow agreement.  The construction of the posts was to be concluded by 22 August.  The pullback of Russian peacekeeping forces continued.  Among other things, roads were being cleared and a security zone was being created.  Once the peacekeepers took position at the border of the security zone, the forces that had supported the peacekeepers would return to their areas of deployment.  In that connection, he asked the United States if the 2,000 Georgian servicemen that the Americans had withdrawn from Iraq would return to that country.


Withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers would be commensurate with the effectiveness of the implementation of the obligations by the Georgian side, he said.  The Moscow peace plan envisioned the return of Georgia’s troops to their barracks.  Although Saakashvili had undertaken to withdraw his troops, that obligation had not been implemented.  On a daily basis, there were incidents when Russian troops in some part of the security zone detained Georgian military units that had not returned to their barracks, as well as some groups of armed individuals.  Such incidents hampered the process.


He called on all to be guided by objective criteria and not the desire to justify the initiators of the aggression.  The Council should focus on the approval of the Moscow peace plan, which had been worked out by the Presidents of Russia and France.  The six principleswere clear, consistent and logically interconnected, and were needed to stabilize the situation.  It was counterproductive to separate individual elements of that plan and to interpret them for political propaganda.  That was why Russia could not support the draft presented by France.  That country had referred to only two of the six principles, and even there, everything had been mixed up and additional epithets had been introduced.  During all the work carried out together, there had been an understanding that the plan should be clearly reflected in the text.


He added that, in a telephone conversation between Russia’s President Medvedev and France’s President Sarkozy, not a word had been uttered about any sort of new resolution that bypassed the agreement of 12 August.  He called on the Council to step up its efforts to work out an effective and viable text to regulate the situation in Georgia on the basis of the six principles of the Moscow peace plan.


Speaking in his national capacity, Council President JAN GRAULS ( Belgium) said his delegation was seriously concerned by the continuing presence of Russian troops in Georgia, despite that country’s repeated assurances that they would be withdrawn.   Belgium reiterated its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  It also called for the implementation of the six principles agreed by both sides, as well as for full respect of Georgia’s property and infrastructure.   Belgium believed the wider international community had a role to play and that the Council should remain seized of the matter.  It, therefore, supported the draft text circulated by the French delegation.


JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) briefly took the floor to say that his delegation saw the situation not as a European issue and neither as one that concerned only the great economic and military powers; it was a crisis in which small countries also had a stake.  Such small countries were a majority in the United Nations and, with that in mind, Costa Rica called for all countries to reaffirm their support for international law and the United Nations Charter, which guaranteed the safety and security of all States, including the smallest.


Mr. ALASANIA ( Georgia) said that the “massive humanitarian intervention” which the Russian Ambassador said his country was performing in Georgia was starkly revealed by the facts on the ground -- by the destruction, devastation and killing that was well reported by the international media.  He added that, while listening to Ambassador Churkin’s statement, he could not quite get a sense of whether the Russian Federation actually intended to comply with the agreement mediated by the European Union.  Was the Russian Federation planning to end its military action and occupation of Georgia?  And further, by refusing to support the French-backed draft, did that in effect mean that Russia was refusing to end its military action in Georgia?


Mr. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) wondered where the representative of Georgia had seen the ambiguity.   Russia was explicitly complying with the six principles proclaimed in the Kremlin on 12 August.  “We and the whole international community need the support of the Security Council,” he said, adding that the Council did not want to do that.  It was being distracted by propagandistic ventures.  Some members of the Council were taking a position that was not constructive, but was instead misleading.  As for the first question by Georgia’s representative about the tragedy that Georgian people were experiencing, he should say “a personal thank you” to President Saakshvili and those who had pushed him into his military adventure. 


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