H.E. Mr. Mikheil Saakashvili, President
23 September 2008
© UN Photo
Click for caption and to enlarge
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, President of Georgia, said that sometimes the most extreme tests of the United Nations’ lofty ideals arose in small, even obscure places, such as his own country, which, with fewer than 5 million people, had last month been “invaded” by its neighbour. However, despite Georgia’s small size, the legal, moral, political and security implications raised by that invasion could not be larger in their consequence, as those issues lay at the very heart of the Organization’s founding Charter.
He said the invasion of his country not only violated its internationally recognized borders, but the subsequent recognition of the so-called “independence” of its two regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia challenged its territorial integrity, while the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of its people did violence to the very idea of human rights. Asserting that developments in Georgia presented the General Assembly with a “general challenge”, the Georgian leader asked if, in the face of such a challenge, the Assembly would stand up for its founding principles, or allow those principles to be crushed under what he called the “treads of invading tanks”.
He urged the Assembly to refuse to stand silent in the face of armed aggression and assault on human rights, and instead stand united and immediately adopt a non-recognition policy towards Georgia’s two breakaway provinces. The Assembly -- and Georgia -- had both a moral and legal obligation to protect international law and world order. All parties had to comply with the full terms of the existing ceasefire agreement and resolve to create a meaningful United Nations conflict resolution process that would peacefully reunify his country.
He told the Assembly that, while the crisis posed grave challenges for the international community, it created specific obligations on his country, to its own people, as well as to the international community. To that end, he reiterated his call for an exhaustive, independent investigation into the origins and causes of the war, urging investigators to have unimpeded access to all officials, documents and intelligence. Georgia welcomed such an investigation and the Government stood ready to share all evidence in its possession and provide access to all witnesses sought by investigators. He called on “the other party” to the conflict to similarly cooperate fully with such an investigation, and not obstruct it in any way.
Continuing, he said he believed Georgia had been attacked because it was a successful democracy in his part of the world, and as such, his Government’s second initiative of openness involved making its democracy even more robust. To that end, he announced four categories of expanded democratic initiatives: strengthening the checks and balances of Georgia’s democratic institutions; provision of additional resources and protections to foster greater political pluralism; strengthening of the rule of law by introducing enhanced due process trials by jury and lifetime judicial appointments; and expanding and deepening the protection of private property.
He thanked the international community’s response to his country’s reconstruction needs, adding that reconstruction would also ensure that Europe continued to benefit from true energy security that came from diversification, and pledged: “And everything we do will be done peacefully.”