|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY GEORGIA
Russian recognition of a separatist regime was nothing more than full and unequivocal support of insurgents, and international acceptance of the Russian Federation’s actions would mean foreign-sponsored groups around the world could use violence and ethnic cleansing to change the world map and be rewarded with independence, Irakli Alasania, Permanent Representative of Georgia, said today.
Speaking at a Headquarters press conference just hours after his Russian counterpart had briefed correspondents on his country’s recognition of South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence, Mr. Alasania said the Russian Federation “has finally come out from the shadows” of the long war it had conducted against Georgia since its independence.
Calling for collective action to “oppose and reverse that brutal and appalling precedent”, he said it was in no country’s interest to see the Russian Federation as it presented itself today. Indeed, Georgia appealed to the free world to condemn and reject Russia’s dangerous decision, not only for Georgia’s sake, but for that of preserving the fundamental basis of international law and order. Georgia would use all possible diplomatic, political and economic tools to present to the rest of the world the “real fact of the Russian policies”.
Russia’s step had no international legal consequence and no impact on Georgia’s internationally established borders, he said, adding that it would not change the international community’s stand on Georgia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity or independence. The Russian Federation, through its “senseless act”, had eliminated itself as a viable peacekeeper in the conflict. Its decision to use military power indiscriminately, to continue to occupy Georgia in clear violation of signed agreements and to annex the territory of the neighbouring independent State continued to shock the international community. “There is no place in today’s world to attempt to redraw the boundaries of the modern international borders. It is brutally evident that we are dealing with the Russian-Georgian conflict instigated by the Russian territorial ambitions against my country.”
He said the Russian Federation’s unilateral recognition of Georgian provinces as independent was a breach of the fundamental norms and principles of international law. The Russian actions directly contradicted all United Nations Security Council resolutions and were contrary to the United Nations Charter as well as other international instruments. The Russian Federation was also abusing its commitments with regard to the six-point ceasefire plan, agreed through the mediation of the European Union presidency and French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s personal efforts.
In the current reality, the Russian Federation was using peacekeeping as a shield to occupy a sovereign, independent State and cleanse its ethnic citizens from separatist areas, he said. Russia continued the occupation beyond all acceptable norms through the massive expulsion of the local Georgian population, solely on an ethnic basis.
Detailing the ongoing use of cluster bombs, silently laid and waiting to bring more misery and destruction to the population, he said Georgian villages in and outside Tskhinvali had been ethnically cleansed by separatist forces, backed by the Russian military. The few civilians remaining in that region had been forcibly given Russian passports in violation of international norms and laws, and in a mockery of the principle of the responsibility to protect. More than 500,000 people of various ethnic origins were suffering a humanitarian disaster as a result of the conflict that was now replicated in the Tskhinvali region, where more than 150,000 people had become refugees or internally displaced persons.
Replying to questions, he said his country was building a coalition to counter Russia’s illegal actions peacefully and through diplomatic, economic and financial means. However, it was not building a coalition for military purposes. Georgia’s commitment to the peace deal and ceasefire was unequivocal and it would continue working through diplomatic channels and other existing mechanisms to stop the Russian aggression and occupation of Georgian soil.
He said in response to another question that Abkhazia’s future within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders rested not only with the minority now governing Abkhazia, but also with other members of the community before the conflict’s beginnings in 1992; it was their call and not the separatists’ call.
Asked whether the United Nations was the right place to resolve the conflict, he said the 14 years’ worth of Security Council resolutions affirming his country’s territorial integrity were still in force and Russia subscribed to them. There was no new document challenging them, but when the aggressor was a permanent Council member, it was very difficult to envisage any meaningful outcome of action by that body.
He added that he would be meeting with the Secretary-General later today, following which he would hold consultations with the other permanent Council members. Those talks would determine which way to go, “how we’re going to deal with the Security Council”.
Georgia was under attack and under an occupation that was clearly still going on, he said in response to another question, stressing that the world must stand united to end it. As for United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), it had the necessary Security Council authorization and international credentials to perform its monitoring tasks in Abkhazia, Georgia. It could be a very useful tool to identify what the Russian occupiers were doing on the ground. However, Russian peacekeepers had now been totally stripped of any credibility.
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