21 April 2008


21 April 2008
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Calling the Russian Federation’s recent steps towards his country “an open threat to Georgia’s Statehood and sovereignty that undermines wider regional stability”, the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations, Irakli Alasania, this morning called on the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) to expand its monitoring of the Abkhazian stretch of the Georgian-Russian border and on the United Nations Security Council to hold a special meeting on the issue with Georgia’s Foreign Minister.

“We call upon the United Nations to address this direct military aggression against Georgia and to fully exploit its own means and capabilities in order to keep the situation from further escalation,” Mr. Alasania said during a Headquarters news conference.  His comments come a week after he welcomed the Council’s decision to extend UNOMIG’s mandate for six months.

Mr. Alasania said that, following Georgia’s 28 March peace initiative with Abkhaz de facto authorities aimed at building a solid foundation for regional peace and stability, the Russian Federation Government had, on 16 April, “crossed the ‘red line’ and completely discredited itself as a facilitator of the conflict settlement” when President Vladimir Putin instructed Russian officials to directly cooperate with de facto authorities in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali without the permission of their Georgian counterparts.

By cooperating with that de facto regime, the Russian Federation was formalizing its relations with the main perpetrator of ethnic cleansing, motivating separatists to completely withdraw from negotiations and preventing Georgia’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) -- a move unanimously supported by Georgia’s citizenry, Mr. Alasania charged.  He added that, on 20 April, Russian Federation military aircraft attacked and shot down a Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, flying in Georgian airspace over Abkhazia.

“We are witnessing a new dangerous reality,” Mr. Alasania said.  “The Russian Federation is legitimizing annexation of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia -- integral parts of the internationally recognized territory of Georgia.”

President Putin’s 16 April decision envisaged legalizing documents issued by the de facto separatist regime, recognizing legal personalities of legal entities registered under the so-called legislation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and legally cooperating in civil, family and criminal cases, Mr. Alasania said.  Further, local representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Krosnodar district and the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania were assigned consular functions to assist people permanently living in Abkhazia and the Tskhinavli region, and there were plans to consider additional proposals to strengthen cooperation in that direction.

Those moves, Mr. Alasania said, contradicted the universally recognized norms and principles of international law, particularly States’ territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs, the inviolability of borders, the United Nations Charter and Council resolution 876 (1993).

A reporter asked when the Council would meet on the issue.  Mr. Alasania said it would discuss his Government’s request during this morning’s closed meeting under the agenda item titled “other matters” and that he hoped it would meet on the issue tomorrow or in the coming days.

Regarding disputing claims from the Abkhaz side that, in fact, Abkhazian military personnel had shot down the UAV, Mr. Alasania said Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze would present evidence to the Council that a Russian military jet had intruded into the Georgian airspace and destroyed the UAV.

As to what extent Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence was exacerbating the Georgian-Russian dispute, he said the Kosovo situation had affected recent developments, but that the Abkhaz conflict and the Russian Federation’s involvement in it began in 1992, long before the Kosovo issue was brought up in the Council.  “This is the policy of the Russian Federation to use this conflict to block Georgia’s development as an independent State and now Georgia’s accession to the Euro-Atlantic community,” he said, adding that “ Russia had territorial ambitions toward Georgia.”

Another reporter asked about Georgia’s demands that Russian peacekeepers leave the area of conflict.  He said that, during the Council meeting on the issue his Government would call for a new peacekeeping arrangement, because with its recent moves the Russian Federation had discredited itself as a facilitator and impartial mediator.  However, peacekeepers of the Commonwealth of Independent States believed that such a decision should be made under the Commonwealth’s mandate, not by the Council.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.