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Obama insists on Georgia’s territorial integrity being respected

By Temuri Kiguradze
Tuesday, July 7
Russia and the USA still have disagreements over the Georgia issue, stated US President Barrack Obama at the press conference following his meeting with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on July 6.

“I won’t pretend that the United States and Russia agree on every issue; as President Medvedev indicated we had some frank discussions in the areas where we still disagree,” said the American President on Monday. Obama noted that he had “some frank discussion” on Georgia with President Medvedev and underlined that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia must be respected. He added that “no one has an interest in a new military conflict” and he’s “committed to leaving behind the suspicion and rivalry of the past.”

The meeting in Moscow is the second between the Russian and Americans Presidents, both of whom have already announced that they are pleased with the results of their negotiations. Russian President Medvedev noted that “the conversation was open and honest.” “Each of our countries understands its role in the world, but under the conditions of globalisation we recognize and accept our responsibility for the processes happening in different countries,” added Medvedev.

The American President underlined that Russia and the US had found a common language on the question of global security and managed to sign very important agreements in “less than six months” after their first meeting in UK. “This is a first but very important step in improving the cooperation between our two countries. If both our states benefit, everyone will benefit from it,” announced the Russian leader, who also noted that Kremlin wants a relationship “which will ensure international peace and security.”

The agreements the Presidents mentioned were signed in Moscow just before the briefing and include the successor agreement to the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty, which commits the U.S. and Russia to reduce nuclear weapons stocks, and a joint statement on nuclear security which reinforced a pledge to work together to curb nuclear proliferation and prevent acts of nuclear terrorism. They also signed a military-to-military co-operation agreement and the terms of the framework of a U.S.–Russia Joint Commission on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, agreed the terms of a bilateral Presidential commission “to provide better structure” to the U.S.-Russia relationship and a memorandum of understanding on working together in the areas of public health and medical science. The US and Russia also agreed a scheme under which Russia will allow weapons and military cargo being sent to U.S. troops in Afghanistan to be transported through its territory.

“The attitude expressed in Obama’s statement [on Georgia] was easily predictable,” noted Georgian political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili, speaking to The Messenger soon after the press conference. The analyst considers the American President’s support for Georgia’s territorial integrity to be an “agreed disagreement.” “This disagreement was already quite obvious two weeks ago, when NATO and Russia reached an agreement on cooperation. It is quite clear that the problem of Georgia is not the most important problem in the world for the leaders of Russia and America and it will not stop them agreeing on other things important for global security such as the agreement on Afghanistan and the question of missile system deployment,” said Tsiskarishvili, adding that the positive aspect of Obama’s statement for Georgia may be the affirmation that none of the sides to the conflict wants another war. “This is very important now when aggressive speculations about possible military actions can be heard so often,” concluded the political analyst.

The US President will meet Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on July 7. “We expect Georgia will be discussed alongside other important issues. It’s known that the US position is different from Moscow’s. The US supported and for sure will support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally-recognised borders. We hope that this principle will provide the basis of negotiations on Georgia. Not only Georgia, but the whole international community expects a lot from this meeting,” stated Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Nalbandov on July 6 in Tbilisi. “This is the first meeting at such a level and such meaning between the leaders of the USA and Russia,” he added.

The meeting between the Presidents is also the focus of attention for the Georgian opposition. “I hope President Obama will state his support for Georgia during the meeting with his Russian counterpart. The visit of Vice President Biden to Georgia soon after the [Obama-Medvedev] meeting confirms this support,” Irakli Alasania, head of the opposition Alliance for Georgia, told Georgian journalists.

President Barack Obama leaves Russia on the morning of July 8 to participate in the G8 summit in Italy. His Russian counterpart will join him there.