Thursday, August 28, 2008

Separatists celebrate recognition by Russia

Shots were heard in Georgia's two separatist regions on August 26, but this time the secessionists were shooting in the air to celebrate their recognition by the greatest aggressor of the 21st century. The Russian President announced at 15:00 that Russia was recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Separatist leaders thanked the aggressors for their support and recognition. ''This is a historic day for our nation, we chose this road of independence long ago and we will always be with Russia,'' Sergey Baghapsh announced. Another separatist leader Eduard Kokoity said Russia had saved his people from genocide and had given them a chance to develop. ''We'll be with Russia forever,'' Kokoity announced. Following Medvedev's statement, it was reported that Russia was preparing a list of military agreements between Russia and the two separatist regions, which would be signed in the near future.

OSCE condemns Russian recognition of Georgia regions

The head of Europe's top human rights and security body, the OSCE, also condemned Russia's recognition of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Tuesday. “The recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia violates fundamental OSCE principles,” Alexander Stubb, Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, stated. “Russia should follow OSCE principles by respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and should immediately withdraw all troops from Georgia and implement the ceasefire agreement”, he stressed. The international community could not accept unilaterally established buffer zones, Stubb concluded.

Russia postpones NATO chief visit to Moscow

Russia is suspending cooperation with NATO on a range of issues, including postponing a visit by the military alliance's Secretary General to Russia's ambassador to NATO. “This will be postponed until a later time after we have reached a new understanding about our relations with NATO,” said the envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, referring to a planned visit in October by NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Rice says recognition of Georgia’s regions 'regrettable'

The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated that Russia's decision to recognize the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was “regrettable”. At a special press conference in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, Rice was positive that the United States would use its veto power in the UN Security Council to prevent any recognition of the two provinces because it saw them as integral parts of Georgia's internationally recognized territory. Rice also characterised the Russian move as “extremely unfortunate”.

Aggression of Ossetian separatists

After Medvedev's decision to recognize their “state”, Ossetian separatists have become particularly aggressive. According to reports they are looting Georgian villages and forcing people to leave their homes. The village of Shereti is already empty, its ejected population having encamped to Gori. According to a statement from Shida Kartli Governor Lado Vardzelashvili, the Georgian police needs to enter those villages immediately in order to protect the local population and establish basic order there.

Cindy McCain in Georgia

The wife of U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain is visiting Georgia on a humanitarian mission. Cindy McCain has met victims of Russian aggression who are housed in the old Ministry of Finance building. Prior to that, Cindy McCain visited hospitals accompanied by Sandra Roelofs, meeting people wounded during the Russian invasion and subsequently met the President of Georgia and shared with him the impressions she had gained. John McCain had announced his wife’s visit a week earlier.

Hamas welcomes Russian recognition for Abkhazia, South Ossetia

Despite the international condemnation of Russian recognition for Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia has been applauded by one political body. Palestinian movement Hamas has become the first organization to praise Russia for its recognition of Georgia's separatist regions. Its representative Aiman Takh told journalists that the Russian decision set a precedent which could help the Palestinians achieve their goals.

“We Palestinians are fighting for our rights and an independent state. We hope that Russia’s action is the beginning of recognition of small nations who fight for their freedom”, he stressed.

Ban Ki-Moon concerned about Georgia crisis

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed concern on Tuesday about Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. “The question of recognition of states is a matter for sovereign states to decide”, Secretary General highlighted in a statement issued by his spokesperson. “Today's developments may have wider implications for security and stability in the Caucasus”, it said. “The Secretary General regrets that ongoing efforts to find a common solution on the way forward in the crisis in Georgia within the Security Council may be complicated.” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had announced Russia's recognition of the separatist territories earlier that day.

Medvedev says recognition of Abkhazia, S.Ossetia was normal

In an interview with the BBC On August 27 Dmitry Medvedev said that the French-brokered six-point document had already served its purpose. The Russian President said that recognizing independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was absolutely normal, because it was aimed at avoiding humanitarian crises in these two regions. He also said he saw direct parallels with Kosovo’s recognition. ''We did as the other countries did with Kosovo and other places,” the Russian President told the BBC, without going into any further detail. Once again accusing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of organizing “genocide” in South Ossetia, Medvedev said that Moscow had had to react to protect its citizens in the breakaway region.

Statement by legitimate Abkhazian administration

The Chairman of the legitimate Abkhaz regional administration (in exile), Malkhaz Akishbaia, has released a special statement in response to the Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Akishbaia expressed the hope that the international community would not allow Russia to violate internationally recognized principles and ensure the victory of separatism in the Caucasus. ''By recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian President has unmasked the real face of Russia, which the civilized world has so far failed to see. The Russian move is legally and historically incorrect and immoral, which removes the chance the Ossetian and Abkhaz people had to develop freely,'' Akishbaia stated.

Churkin accuses Saakashvili of aggressive attack on S. Ossetia

Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has announced the decision of the Russian Federation regarding Georgia's breakaway regions to the international community. Churkin said that the decision was based on declarations approved by the United Nations Organization and the key role in the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia was played by the Georgian government.

Churkin said that the Russian President took into consideration the requests of the Abkhaz and Ossetian people, their Presidents and Parliaments and recognized their independence. ''We shall institute close friendly relations with these Republics. Saakashvili endangered the territorial integrity of his country himself when he launched an aggressive attack on South Ossetia on August 8 and killed numerous people, peacekeepers and other Russian citizens among them,' Churkin said, adding that Saakashili was preparing similar attack against Abkhazia.

Sarkozy reiterates support for Georgia's territorial integrity

France, the current EU Chair, has condemned the decision of Russia to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia's separatist regions. Its President Nicolas Sarkozy announced yesterday that the EU supported a peaceful resolution of the conflict and that France, as the current holder of the EU Chair, was declaring support for Georgia's internationally recognized borders.

Medvedev and Merkel have telephone conversation

Following considerable international criticism, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev provided explanations of his decision to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who telephoned him.

According to the Kremlin, Medvedev reported that Russia’s position on the matter was known to the whole world before the recognition; however, Russian sources do not report what the position of the German leader was after the conversation, or whether Medvedev managed to convince her that his decision was reasonable.

Angela Merkel has repeatedly urged Medvedev to follow the principles of the six-point ceasefire agreement.

Statement by Russian Foreign Ministry

The Russian Foreign Ministry has released a statement in which Georgia is accused of violating international norms. The statement says that the activities of the Georgian Government contradict high international standards. ''It is beyond doubt that the regime of Saakashvili does not meet the high standards imposed by the international community. However, we believe that Georgia will soon have worthy leaders, who will honestly care for their country and enter into kind and equal-neighbourly relations with the other Caucasian nations. Russia will always be prepared to take part in this process,'' the statement says.

IMF to lend 750 million to Georgia

The International Monetary Fund has being considering lending Georgia USD 750 million to help restore investor confidence after Russia's invasion. According to a representative of the IMF, “Georgia is dependent on foreign capital to finance its trade deficit, raising concern that the country's economy may suffer if overseas investment slows”. The IMF has sent a mission to the country to assess the damage and its board is likely to consider a loan or credit line soon.

Georgian Ministry comments

Georgia's Foreign Ministry has released an official comment on the question “How would you assess reports that the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations have joined Russia in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region?” “Against the background of Russia’s aggression against Georgia, their invasion of parts of its territory and the total ethnic cleansing conducted there, it is no exaggeration to say that the Russian Federation has gained the supporters it is worthy of. We are left with no other option but to congratulate Moscow on this gain”, the official comment says.

France fears war over Georgia

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has condemned Russia's actions in Georgia and accused Russia of breaking international law by recognizing the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
Questioned about a statement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Russia was not afraid of a new Cold War, Kouchner stated: “If it's only cold, that's not a problem, if it's hot, we don't want it”.