Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ukrainian MPs visit Georgia

A delegation of members of the Nasha Ukraina Ukrainian parliamentary faction is paying an official visit to Georgia. The Ukrainian MPs have so far met with Georgian Vice Speaker Mikheil Machavariani. Delivering speeches to Georgian MPs and the media afterwards, they spoke in Ukrainian, not Russian, as a protest against the Russian aggression.

During the three-day visit, the Ukrainian parliamentarians will meet with the Georgian President and Patriarch Ilia. The delegation will also visit regions damaged by the Russian aggression, where they plan to meet members of the local population.

Russian Foreign Minister to host separatists

Following the visit of European leaders to the Russian capital, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hosted Abkhaz and Ossetian separatists in Moscow on September 9 for negotiations on diplomatic cooperation.

Lavrov met with the Foreign Minister of self-proclaimed South Ossetia, Murad Jioev, and Sergey Shamba, the de facto Foreign Minister of Abkhazia. Russia drafted several agreements, which define the terms of the establishment of official diplomatic ties and military cooperation between Russia and the separatists.

Statement by US State Department

US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack has voiced the official position of the United States regarding the agreement reached between the Presidents of France and Russia. McCormack stated that any step which would speed up the pullout of Russian forces from Georgia would be positive.
“What we call upon Russia to do is live up to its original agreements. They made certain commitments to President Sarkozy, and we would expect that they live up to those agreements. They haven’t done thus far, notwithstanding comments from President Medvedev. We call upon him as well as the Russian Government to live up to what they said they would do in the aftermath of negotiating with President Sarkozy,” McCormack said.

Europe to bring Russia under control

Europe will bring Russia under control and this is the beginning of a great mission, said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as he commented on the agreement between French President Sarkozy and Russian President Medvedev after a meeting with President Sarkozy in Tbilisi. ”This is the beginning of the full implementation of the six-point ceasefire agreement brokered by France, and we can say it is a step forward,'' Saakashvili announced.
President of France Nikolas Sarkozy had arrived in Tbilisi from Moscow late on September 8 after four-hour negotiations with Dmitry Medvedev. The meeting between Saakashvili and Sarkozy in the President's Chancellery lasted two hours and was followed by a joint briefing, where the results of the negotiations were declared.

Sarkozy said that the European Union was moving forward in this crisis and that the pledge of the Russian President to finally pull the Russian Army out of Georgian soil proved this. The President of France reiterated Europe’s support of Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty and condemned the recognition of Georgia's two breakaway regions by Russia. During this month the European Union will strictly monitor the implementation of the obligations taken by Russia under this and a previous agreement on ceasefire and pullout.

It was also announced that in October Georgia would host a summit, where support for Georgia's territorial unity and sovereignty would be demonstrated once again.

Polish journalists released

Members of a broadcast crew from Polish television station Polska TV, who were detained late on September 8, have been set free. Russian occupiers and Ossetian separatists handed them over to Georgia, on Georgian-controlled territory, on the morning on September 9.

The Polish journalists say that they had arrived in the region to cover the post-Russian aggression humanitarian situation, but Ossetian and Russian gunmen detained them and brought to Tskhinvali. The aggressors tried to force the hostages to give them ''confidential information'' as they accused them of spying for the U.S., Poland and Georgia. The separatists eventually freed the journalists after diplomatic offices became involved.

The released hostages say they were given only water during their captivity.