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Bryza promises support to Georgia

By Temuri Kiguradze
Wednesday, December 17
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs of the US Matthew Bryza met President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, Chair of the Georgian Parliament David Bakradze and representatives of the Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary opposition in various locations in Tbilisi on December 16.

On arriving in the Georgian capital Bryza announced that he was going to discuss the issues of democratic reforms and preparations for the EU- and OSCE-mediated talks in Geneva on December 16. At a later press conference he stated that he had discussed a possible “agreement on strategic partnership and security” between the USA and Georgia that is being prepared. Bryza refused to reveal the intended terms of this agreement, but said it should help Georgia conduct the “necessary reforms” required for NATO membership.

MP Givi Targamadze, who chairs the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security, told Rustavi 2 TV that the potential agreement would “actually involve cooperation in all spheres.” “And, what is most attractive and important for us now, it also involves military cooperation, the further equipping and development of our armed forces. Also – I will put it in the words formulated in the draft – all measures to jointly tackle threats,” Targamadze said.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State made a statement once more expressing the USA’s “unbending support for the territorial integrity of Georgia.” He commented on the incident on December 12, when Russian troops reoccupied the Georgian village of Perevi, located on territory claimed by both Georgia and its breakaway region South Ossetia. He said the Perevi reoccupation was an example of Russia “not fulfilling it obligations” under the Sarkozy-Medvedev ceasefire agreement signed on August 12, according to which Russia has to withdraw its forces to the positions they had before the start of the conflict. Bryza underlined that because of the Perevi incident and others in the conflict regions it was important to ensure that “international observers have access to the whole territory of Georgia,” including breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Matthew Bryza noted that his visit preceded the third round of the negotiations in Geneva. “We must ensure that every single step [taken at the talks] leads to the restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia.” Answering The Messenger’s question about further possible Russian aggression against Georgia Bryza stated that “it’s hard to predict” Russia’s actions. However he expressed worry about the constant shootings on the administrative borders and recent attacks on international monitors. “Nobody want to suspect Russian soldiers or other Russian citizens of these incidents,” stated Bryza, “however the firing comes from territory controlled by Russian troops and Russia should be held responsible for it,” he added, noting that the Geneva talks is the mechanism which can be used to calm the situation.

The Perevi reoccupation and the various shooting incidents near the administrative borders will be among the issues discussed in Geneva by the Georgian delegation. The talks are mediated by the international community and involve the UN, OSCE, EU, USA, Georgia and Russia. Delegations from the separatist authorities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will also participate, but the Georgian side refuses to recognize them as full participants of the talks.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on December 15 that “concrete mechanisms for the prevention of a renewal of bloodshed in the region” should be elaborated during the talks in Geneva. It said these mechanisms were needed especially in the light of “dangerous actions undertaken by the Georgian side in the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, demonstrated, in particular, by the concentration of the Georgian troops and police forces in the border areas and by new provocations which are ‘on the verge of foul,’ undertaken with the participation of Mr. Saakashvili.”