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RF MFA: Actions of Tbilisi Pose Real Threat to Peace and Security in the Southern Caucasus

09.07.2008 10:55

RF MFA Information and Press Department

Statement of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Concerning the Exacerbation of the Situation in the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian Zones of Conflict:

"The situation in the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-South Ossetian zones of conflict has heated up dramatically over the last few days.

In South Ossetia, the city of Tskhinvali came under massive mortar attack from the Georgian direction; there are civilian casualties. Repeated violations of the conflict zone’s airspace by fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the Georgian air force were noted. An act of terrorism was carried out, in which a member of South Ossetia’s law enforcement bodies died. Georgian troops arbitrarily set up a post on a strategic height near the village of Sarabuki. Without concurrence of the Joint Peacekeeping Force (JPKF) command, extra Georgian military equipment was introduced into the conflict zone, as recorded by military observers, including those from the OSCE Mission in Georgia. All of this points to the fact that an open, preplanned act of aggression has been committed against South Ossetia, an internationally recognized party in the settlement of the conflict.

Simultaneously with this, a series of explosions occurred in the Georgian-Abkhaz zone of conflict wounding and killing several civilians, including local staff members of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia. Abkhaz authorities designate these blasts as terrorist acts. The Georgian side, according to available evidence, may have had a hand in organizing some of them.

Evidentially confirmed information that the leadership of Georgia was planning in spring 2008 to carry out a military operation to seize Abkhazia is perceivable as proof of a growing danger. Particularly noteworthy are documentary materials showing the Georgian side’s intentions to forcibly block observation posts, checkpoints, and headquarters of the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Force (CPKF).

There is an increasing amount of the confirmatory evidence that Georgia’s leadership has taken the path of deliberately fanning tension in relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The aim of this is to destroy the peacekeeping architecture that has been in place in the region for decade and a half so as to replace it with new, suiting the Georgian side, mechanisms of settlement. The actions of Tbilisi pose a real threat to peace and security in the Southern Caucasus and could place the region on the brink of new armed conflict with unpredictable consequences. Those assiduously trying contrary to the facts to ignore this danger, and then also permitting themselves to shield the provocateurs and blame Moscow for everything do disservice to the present Georgian leadership, strengthening its belief in all-permissiveness. That’s precisely how the recent remarks of US State Department officials are to be interpreted.

In these circumstances the Russian Federation is submitting in New York a draft UN Security Council resolution and in Vienna a draft OSCE Permanent Council decision calling for signing without delay of documents on the nonuse of force in the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts. The leaderships of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are ready to do so, but the signing is blocked because of Tbilisi’s position. In addition, the Georgian side must also immediately bring the situation in the upper part of the Kodori Valley into conformity with the provisions of the Moscow agreement on the ceasefire and separation of forces of 1994, and UNSC resolution 1716. This means a complete withdrawal of Georgian troops from the Kodori Valley.

Russia is ready to conscientiously and impartially continue vigorous efforts to help the parties in finding ways of a political solution to the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia within the framework of the approved multilateral formats, including the Group of Friends of the UN Secretary General on Georgia and the Joint Control Commission for Georgian-Ossetian Conflict Resolution. But in the light of the new outbreak of provocations in the conflict zones it is hardly possible to continue “business as usual.” The chief thing now is to get firm commitments not to use force against Abkhazia and South Ossetia assumed, along with a de-escalation of the situation in the Kodori Valley. After this it will be possible to return to dialogue on confidence building, economic rehabilitation and other aspects of settlement.

We believe that at this stage the international community should concentrate on the containment of the aggressive manifestations that could send events in Abkhazia and South Ossetia developing according to a catastrophic scenario."