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Russian Federation
H.E. Mr. Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs

27 September 2008

Statement Summary

SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said a “painful blow” had been dealt to the unity of the anti-terrorist coalition by the war in Iraq, when, as it turned out, under the false pretext of the fight on terror, international law was violated.  In a wholly artificial way, a deeper crisis was created, and it had not been resolved.  Further, more and more questions were being raised about what was going on in Afghanistan, he said, and asked if there was an acceptable price to pay for civilian deaths in the global campaign against terror.

“Who would determine the criteria of proportionality for the use of force, and why are the international contingents unwilling to engage in combating the proliferating dug threat that causes ever-increasing suffering to the countries of Central Asia and Europe?” he asked.  Those and other factors had led him to believe that the anti-terror coalition was in crisis.  It seemed to lack collective arrangements, such as equality among members in decision-making.

Mechanisms designed for a unipolar world started to be used, he said, and the outcome had been a “privatization of the global effort”.  The illusion of a unipolar world confused many.  In exchange for total loyalty, some expected a free pass to resolve their problems by any means.  The “all permissive” syndrome that developed had raged out of control, boiling over on the night before 8 August, when the aggression was unleashed on South Ossetia.  The Russian Federation had helped South Ossetia repel that aggression, and carried out its duty to protect its citizens, fulfilling its peacekeeping agreements.

Recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia by the Russian Federation was needed to ensure their security, he explained, adding that the “chauvinism of Georgian leaders” had begun long ago with a war driven by the slogan:  “ Georgia for Georgians”.  An end was put to that war, and peacekeeping negotiating mechanisms were put in place.  However, the current Georgian leadership had undermined them by launching a “new and bloody war” on 8 August.

“This problem is now closed,” he said, noting that the future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia had been secured by treaties between Moscow, and the respective [capital] cities of Sukhum and Tskhinval.  Moreover, he said implementation of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, to which his Government was strongly committed, would stabilize the two republics, though he was concerned at attempts to “rewrite” that plan.

Today, there was a need to analyze the impact of the crisis on the region, he said.  The world had changed yet again, and it was clear that solidarity expressed by all after 11 September 2001 should be revived and built on the rejection of “double standards” in the fight against infringements on international law –- either on the part of terrorists, belligerent political extremists or others.  Attempts to settle conflict situations by breaking off international agreements could not be tolerated.

In South Ossetia, his Government had defended the right to life -- the most essential human right.  The existing architecture in Europe had not passed the “strength test”; it had proven incapable of containing an aggressor, he said, proposing to look at the situation in a comprehensive way.  The treaty on European security proposed by President Medvedev could be “a kind of ‘ Helsinki 2’”, in that it meant to create a reliable security system in a legally binding form, to promote integrated management across a vast region.

Numerous challenges required the comprehensive strengthening of the United Nations, and he was, on the whole, satisfied by the reform process.  He welcomed proposals to expand Security Council membership that did not divide States, but facilitated the search for mutually acceptable compromises.  He reaffirmed a proposal to create a consultative council of religions, saying also that food, energy and security problems could be resolved by a new global partnership.  The Russian Federation supported further developing partnerships among the present Group of Eight members and key States in all developing regions.

In rethinking the responsibility of rendering honestly the events of August, and calling up the memory of the Cold War era, he warned that principles of international law urging restraint from wars of aggression should be followed to ensure that truth did not once again become “the first victim of war”.

[Source: GA/10757]

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