Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis: Russia cannot have it both ways

“The unilateral recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian Federation violates the territorial integrity of a fellow Council of Europe member state. It jeopardizes prospects for a negotiated settlement of the dispute about the future status of these two regions. Russia cannot have it both ways. In the past, Russia has strongly supported the principle of territorial integrity. The decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia must strike any objective observer as being inconsistent with this principle. The ultimate victim of this decision is the international credibility of the Russian Federation. The Russians cannot invoke international law only when they feel like it”.

Angela Merkel insists on conferring MAP on Georgia and Ukraine

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has insisted that a NATO Membership Action Plan should be given to both Georgia and Ukraine. The German Chancellor met with Federico Reinfeld, the Prime Minister of Sweden, recently. “We discussed what the next step should be. It is clear that this should be conferring MAP to Georgia and Ukraine. This does not mean they will be given immediate membership of NATO, but the MAP leads to this,”Angela Merkel remarked at the press conference held after the meeting.

Merkel is convinced that Georgia and Ukraine should be members of the alliance. “I would like to cite the document agreed at Bucharest. All the NATO member states clearly declared that Georgia and Ukraine would one day become members of the alliance. My position is the same,” the German Chancellor stated.

Anatoly Nogovitsyn – 10 NATO warships are in the Black Sea

The number of NATO ships in the Black Sea has increased to 10. Russia has expressed concern that NATO is gaining a stronger presence in Black Sea waters, as Deputy Chief of the General Staff Alexander Nogovitsyn stated at a press conference held on August 26, RIA Novosti reports. According to the news agency, 7 more NATO ships are expected in the near future.

Georgian Damage Assessment Delegation and Government representatives meet in Tbilisi

A meeting between the Georgian Damage Assessment Delegation from the US and Georgian Government representatives was held behind closed doors on August 25 at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. US assistance for Georgia to address damage done by the Russian aggression was discussed at the meeting. As Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze stated, the Delegation is an economic entity visiting Georgia to determine what kind of assistance the country is in need of. According to Gurgenidze, America has been actively involved in these discussions since August 11.

The US Deputy Secretary of State forf Economy, Energy and Agriculture, Ruben Jeffrey, led the American delegation, and declared that he had had a very constructive and serious conversation with the Georgian Prime Minister. He mentioned that this is his first visit in regard to damage assessment, and it is being discussed how the two countries should cooperate to provide assistance to Georgia in terms of humanitarian aid, rehabilitation and economic development. The Minister of Economic Development Eka Sharashidze and the Minister of Energy Alexander Khetaguri also attended the meeting.

According to released information, American aid is expected to total more than USD one billion. The Minister of Economy emphasized that at the first stage the most important thing is humanitarian assistance, then the settlement of IDPs and the restoration of their living conditions and damaged infrastructure. The visit will last until August 27.

Thomas Hammerberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, meets Lado Vardzelashvili and Sozar Subari

Thomas Hammerberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has met with Lado Vardzelashvili, the President’s Representative, and Ombudsman Sozar Subari at the Shida Kartli regional administration on August 25. As Lado Vardzelashvili stated after the meeting, he had updated the Commissioner on the current situation in the region, adding that aresting the local population, robbery and kidnapping people to Tskhinvali have become common.

Subari and Hammerberg also met with population in Gori on August 24. They visited places bombed by the Russians. “The places which have been bombed are far away from military bases. We have spoken to the population. The Commissioner needs information, which will assist him in developing a clear picture regarding the situation. He has to present a report to the Council of Europe about current events”, Subari stated.

Lado Vardzelashvili mentioned that it isn’t yet possible for either the administration or local residents to enter 31 Georgian villages. As he stressed, he “asked the Commissioner to help with the issue of exchanging captives”. According to Lado Vardzelashvili, the Russians have been asking for criminals, sentenced long ago, to be exchanged for Georgian captives. He mentioned that the Georgian side does its best to free all the captives.

Armenian Diaspora condemns Russia's policy

''Viva independent Georgia – no to Russian aggression,'' – members of Armenian Diaspora, mostly actors at the Armenian Theatre in Tbilisi, chanted at a rally outside the Russian Embassy yesterday, while protesting against the Russian invasion. Georgian citizens of various ethnic minorities assembled outside the Armenian Theatre and then moved to the Embassy.
The protestors demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia and condemned Russia’s aggressive policy towards Georgia. They were waving Georgian national flags.

Separatists occupy five villages

Five villages which were under Georgian control until the Russian invasion are now occupied by separatists and Russians. Russian and Abkhazian flags are waving at illegal Russian checkpoints in the villages of Ganmukhuri, Khurcha, Pakhulani, Muzhava and Chale. The separatists and occupiers have plundered the administrative offices and medical centres in each of these villages before destroying them. They are also compelling the local population to take Russian passports.