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Senior Georgian politicians answer questions about the war

By Temuri Kiguradze
Tuesday, October 28
The Temporary Parliament Commission established to study the events which led to the outbreak of the Georgian-Russian war in August has questioned State Minister on Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili and Kakha Lomaia, Chief of the National Security Council, on October 27. The public part of the session was broadcast.

Temur Iakobashvili stated that the Georgian Government took all possible steps to avoid the conflict. He said that Georgia had included the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in a conflict resolution plan developed by President Mikheil Saakashvili. “Differing from all previous plans, this one was very concrete,” said the Minister, pointing out that Saakashvili’s plan promised the separatists free economic zones in their regions, wide autonomy and participation in the governing of Georgia and guarantees for the protection of the Abkhazian and South Ossetian national groups. Iakobashvili stated that the Georgian side was ready to make any kind of compromise “except for damaging the territorial integrity of the country.” However, he accused Russia of spoiling the negotiations on these matters and starting the conflict.

“After Kosovo Russia decided to change its policy [towards Georgia], and its first step was to implement Putin’s order,” said Iakobashvili, referring to the decision of Vladimir Putin to cancel the economic sanctions against the separatist regions at the beginning of 2008. The Minister stated that from that point onwards Russia had prepared for military provocation in the region. Being asked by the Chair of the Commission Paata Davitaia about the warning of Georgia’s Western partners that Russia was intending to start a conflict, Iakobashvili answered that the danger has been known to Tbilisi beforehand and the Georgian Government had tried to avoid it by all means.

Chief of The National Security Kakha Lomaia stated that during the first days of the war Georgia was just answering Russian aggression. Members of the commission asked him about the famous statement of the head of Georgian peacekeepers Mamuka Kurashvili, who said on the night of August 7th that Georgia was going to “restore constitutional order” in South Ossetia. Lomaia replied that this statement “had not been sanctioned by the Georgian Government” and was Kurashvili’s personal initiative. He said that the statement of Georgian General was wrong and didn’t correspond to any instruction given. Lomaia also said that his office had information about plans by Russian military officials to “destroy Georgian villages” in the South Ossetian conflict zone. Lomaia’s attack on Kurashvili recalled the similar official comments previously made by former President Eduard Shevardnadze, in which he maintained that Tengiz Kitovani, then Minister of Defence, had attacked Sokhumi in 1992 on his own initiative, and thus sought to discredit this individual to deflect criticism of the administration as a whole.

The questioning of Iakobashvili and Lomaia followed the Commission’s similar grilling of Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Eka Tkeshelashvil and Intelligence Service head Giga Bezhuashvili on October 25, as reported in yesterday’s paper under the title “’War Commission’ holds first hearings.’