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Tbilisi answers Moscow’s accusations

By Temuri Kiguradze
Wednesday, December 31
The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement on December 30, answering Russian accusations of violations of the Georgia-Russia conflict ceasefire agreement.

Tbilisi was reacting to an interview given by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in which he stated that Georgia is “far from fulfilling its obligation to keep its Army in its bases.” Tbilisi called this accusation “cynical” and stated “Russia is itself continuing to grossly and systematically violate the same agreement.”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia would like to remind Mr. Lavrov that Georgia complies fully with all of its commitments under the 12 August agreement. Reports of all international monitoring missions attest to this fact,” the statement reads.

The agreement signed on August 12 in Moscow put an end to the five day war between Georgia and Russia. According to this document, brokered by the EU, the military units of all sides should be returned to the places of their permanent location before the start of the conflict. Tbilisi accuses Moscow of violating this part of agreement by retaining troops in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“It has long become clear to the international community that the Russian side remains in permanent violation of nearly all paragraphs of this agreement. In this context reference should first of all be made to the failure to fulfill the commitment on the restoration of the Status quo ante, which means the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Georgia. Contrary to what is indicated by this commitment, Russia still continues its military build-up on the occupied territories of Georgia, paralleled with intensive construction of military bases designated for occupation troops on the territories of both Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region,” said the Ministry on December 30.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry further accuses the Russian authorities of constant provocations in the areas close to the administrative borders with the breakaway territories. Shooting incidents occur there on a regular basis, often causing human losses. “What provides particular concern for the international community is the increasing number of armed provocations from the occupied territories, which have already claimed the lives of ten Georgian policemen, as well as a gross and mass violation of human rights. In addition to the already conducted ethnic cleansing, the occupied territories have been totally cleansed of the local population. A good example to illustrate this point is that a total of 200 families remain out of a prewar population of ten thousand in the Akhalgori district. Both the Georgian and Ossetian populations have been expelled. “

In addition Tbilisi underlines that Russia hinders the work of international observers in the conflict zones. In December 2008 Russia vetoed the extension of the OSCE Mission in Georgia, arguing that it was now necessary to create separate missions for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Georgian regions which Russia recognized as “independent states” after the August conflict.

“It will come as no surprise if Russia tries to employ the same tactics with respect to the UN Observer Mission in Georgia as well, which will be yet another flagrant violation of the ceasefire agreement,” says the Foreign Ministry, adding that Moscow uses “cynical allegations permeated with the spirit of Soviet-style propaganda and its terminology,” trying “in the most shameless manner to shift the blame for its own culpable actions onto Georgia.”